Ryan Durney Illustration

& UNKNOWN TOME

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Representation ‘n All That Entails…

Representation ‘n All That Entails…

Posted by on Jun 11, 2015 in News & Thoughts | 0 comments

Representation helps me stay focused more on producing creative work, and less on marketing and beating the bushes. For that, it’s worth its weight in gold.

To my knowledge, if you are not a pre-existing client, and you are of the ilk of a Pearson or Scholastic, looking for work in the children’s genre, then go ahead and contact Gwen.

If you are someone I’ve been working with for years, or an independent author, or a startup imprint, or you want more mature audience sci-fi or fantasy, then you can contact me first and we’ll figure it out.

Thanks!

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Is There a Future?

Is There a Future?

Posted by on Jun 11, 2015 in Of Lore Series | 0 comments

Last week I sent a galley copy of Birds of Lore to my agent, post-haste. Since our relationship is relatively new, she had only seen scant imagery and heard me yammering on about it. I begged her to take it with her to the New York Book Expo, “just in case you meet with anyone who would find it interesting.”

She did. And from what she says, people did find it interesting. But ultimately, her appointments are with editors and directors of children’s books, so I’m pretty sure it was just eccentric eye candy–a momentary but then nearly offensive (bird women with boobs on some pages) collection of mature fantasy art.

As I mentioned before, I have about .37+ of Book II, and then .25 of Book III. There is more I want to say in the story, and hundreds of more bird monsters I need to show you, including sections like:

Birds Who Would Make Food of Men
Birds of Superstition & Protection
Birds of Reckoning
Birds of Prehistory
Celestial Birds…

…and also The Birds of Hades, where the Mythologist literally goes to Hell on his bird watch. I am very excited about the darker parts because so many myths and legends are actually warnings.

The first chapter of Book II is called Birds of Prescription, as we see the Mythologist’s inability to rest and heal from his exploits in Book I.

I can always find his voice and continue to write his adventures, when I have the time (never enough!), but I am uncertain where to go from here. I am considering asking my original backers what they think.

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Alice’s 150th Birthday

Alice’s 150th Birthday

Posted by on Jun 11, 2015 in News & Thoughts | 0 comments

That’s approximately 55,600 unbirthdays, if the poor girl were still stuck in the animated version of the Mad Tea Party.

Since Alice’s first tumble down the rabbit hole of Victorian times, there have been over far over 100 illustrated editions of Alice in Wonderland published. Why has this book been commissioned through the ages so many times? Do we need anything but Sir John Tenniel’s beloved, perfectly period illustrations?

If Alice editions had never started to become a tradition, I’d say, perhaps, that we wouldn’t, but Lewis Carroll himself changed the format three times in his career, coloring it and releasing a younger children’s edition. Then there were 8 editions released the year that its copyright expired in the UK alone.

The classic tale remains a staple of adolescent literature, landing in the hands of children between the ages of 9-12, and simultaneously collected and coveted by all ages, especially if the illustrations successfully convey the curious ambiance of her adventure through Wonderland.

Lewis Carroll’s tale is unique in that it captures the strangeness of dreams (and in parallel, the mercurial nature of adolescence) better than most children’s stories. The imagery in Wonderland sets an artist free in exactly the same way that our dreams do, each night. It’s not just another children’s book, but a keepsake kept as a treasured piece of ephemera.

I fully admit that it’s always been a dream goal of mine to create a “choice collectible Alice,” that looks the proper part of an heirloom book. I believe that very few titles are released this way today, making my planned edition worthy of attention, perhaps. Using the original text, I am highly motivated to create not just the illustrations–but an entire book, from cover to cover, as a high caliber work of art. With the recent film by Tim Burton being popular, but ultimately missing the mark, it’s high time to release an unforgettable version in print, true to the nature of the story.

It used to be an unspoken tradition for illustrators to be frequently paid to take on Alice in Wonderland, and reflect their times and their modern illustrative style in the work. For illustrators, this is like an art history imprint that we now seem to be losing.

I currently have finished 18 art pieces and 23 border and design pieces. Contact me if you are interested in working together to finish an extremely lavish version of this cherished classic.

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Birds of Beginnings…

Birds of Beginnings…

Posted by on Jun 11, 2015 in Of Lore Series | 0 comments

One day in 2011, I was walking with my wife and lamenting how I have never properly expressed my fascination with medieval bestiary books, as one often does.

“Come to think of it,” I said, “I have never finished any book that was entirely my own thing.” (Much stewing ensued. Important, because this moment led me to think of “a book” as a single, important, all-encompassing art piece for an illustrator. I see a single-creator book as = a fine art installation at a gallery.)

The next day, on the very same walk, there was a huge Mexican Eagle hopping nervously around roadkill. We have both admired them many times, for what they are and for the job they do for all. I said, “Birds of Lore. That’s what we’ll call it, because we’ll unite a history of fantasy birds, from every place and from all throughout time under the theme of ‘birds.'” (More stewing ensued. There seemed to be no good way to do this. Time and $…Time and $…Always the pin that bursts the bubble of an idea!)

After a whale-load of research and contemplation, we found some wonderful partners and launched a humble Kickstarter, which drew even more wonderful backers–or at least just enough backers (or so I thought).

The month of the Kickstarter was startling (because it was all up to me to find enthusiasts), grueling (because I was up all night trying to learn how to do that as I went) and a unique learning experience (because most artists are repelled by the challenge of marketing and I am no exception). I also tried to finish a lot of art work for the book, at the same time.

We made it, by the skin of our teeth. But an even closer call followed, when I realized that I was trying to print a full color, large-format, 100 page art book (it is costly, no matter how one breaks it down). Shipping was also, by far, the dragon that I failed to prepare for and failed to slay. By all accounts, I was eaten by that dragon.

Proper allocation of funds was not my strong suit. I tended to overpay (although I wouldn’t call it an “over-payment”!) the guest illustrators because I related to their effort so much, and I appreciated them.

When the dust settled and my backers understood that the project was being created, I sat down to write what I promised. To my horror, my precious theme, a history of fantasy birds, was truly nowhere near as interesting as the artwork we had made for the list. I was literally falling asleep at my desk, combing through their origins. While I don’t see myself as a professional author, I have been hired to write children’s nonfiction and to add flavor to fantasy. I asked myself if fiction had ever accompanied all-encompassing bestiary books? I had foggy recollections of “field-guides” and pretend “journals.” I tinkered with that, but found present-tense journal notes exhausting for a long book. I pulled an old, obscure book from my shelf called The Tourist’s Guide to Transylvania. That hit home. That book almost reads as if the authors were setting up the bible for an entire RPG game world before such things existed. The narrator is very serious with the warnings for the would-be traveler. The tone is that, “everything you relate to Gothic Horror is real, and you will most likely die in way(s) you never imagined.” But as the reader, you go there anyway, and you see all the things you are not supposed to see. THAT was my new center. I needed a narrator for my journal who was blithely venturesome and who was as weird as his quest to see weird monsters.

Thus we have the story of the Mythologist in Birds of Lore, (volume I). In the 408 days it took me to produce volume I, I actually created nearly 80 more pages of work, which is woefully waiting its fate if and when volume II happens

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This Blog of Mine

This Blog of Mine

Posted by on Dec 31, 2014 in News & Thoughts | 2 comments

On this site, I will mostly talk about my life and career as a full-time illustrator…as a creator, appreciator and adorner of books and stories.

UNKNOWN TOME is simply my publishing imprint. It is my personal playground to practice my art and release unbridled creations. You could say that anything I generate (book, game supplement, poster, fine art) outside of someone else’s contract, brand, label or vision falls under UNKNOWN TOME when it is published.

The name implies underground work. The logo that I made implies a love of books, be they ancient paper or fresh pixels. The bookworm is eating the book, which is symbolic of how I feel when I see artwork or writing that I like. I feel like I am eating something that I needed, and never realized it. The muzzle of the worm is a key, because consuming stories or knowledge is how I believe we advance together, as people.

Eventually, there will be some sort of store page here, where you could support my label, if you wished to be kind or wanted one of my creations. I will always try to offer work that I believe is the absolute best I can do. Thank you for being here.

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