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News . Feature Stories . Pushing myself: Q + A with Painting major Ryan Samples

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September 09, 2014

Pushing myself: Q + A with Painting major Ryan Samples

What's your earliest memory of making art?

My earliest memory would be in my parents’ living room. I was three years old, drawing and coloring multiple pages to create my first book, Star Wars.

Did you take a lot of art classes in high school?

In high school I took a few art classes my first two years. The last two years of high school I went to a vocational school to study engineering design.

Why did you choose to attend an art + design school?

I wanted to attend an art and design school to focus on being an illustrator for children's books. I knew I wanted to challenge myself to become better as an artist and that an art school could give me that.

What made you choose CIA?

I heard from a friend that CIA had really good programs for many majors, and I was interested in seeing the students’ works. After taking a few tours, I knew I wanted to attend CIA.

What made you choose your major?

I was originally going to choose illustration. Secretly, I wanted to go into painting. I talked to a few professors and students about both majors and felt if I wanted to be pushed, painting would take me there.

Is having your own studio important to your education? And how about interaction with classmates, is that important to your education?

I didn't appreciate my studio space during my first year in painting. I commuted, so I would always work at home. The problem with that was I wasn't surrounding myself in the environment that I should have been in. I turned things around near the end of the year. Junior and senior year, the studio started to become my home. The interaction with some of the classmates became better and so did my education. Being honest with yourself and being in your studio are two of the most important things I've learned through my studio practice.

How are your relationships with CIA faculty different than your relationships with your high school teachers?

CIA faculty and high school teachers are two separate groups of people. As a student, I believe it is important to build a relationship with your high school art teachers so they can guide you through the experience and become comfortable in that environment. As a student from CIA, I believe the faculty are great. They will support your decisions and help guide you to where you want to go (whether that is through your artwork, internships, galleries, master programs, etc.).

Have you had any internships? If so, where and how did you like it?

I had an internship junior year. The program was called "Putting Artists In Classrooms.” I taught sixth and seventh grade art at Villaview Community in Cleveland. I loved the experience I received. The program was designed to teach us how to create lesson plans and to teach a younger audience. We were able to select what age/grade we wanted (K-eighth grade). The experience helped me out with my public speaking and being a role model for others.

What one thing about the CIA experience surprised you the most?

Wanting more out of myself as an artist surprised me the most.

How do you like Cleveland?

I believe Cleveland is a great city. It is full of opportunities and discovery.

What would you say to a high school student considering attending CIA?


Build up your self-esteem to the level that might seem unwarranted. This will help you ignore both positive and negative responses to your works. Both are usually misguided, since they come from the outside. Be your most severe and devastating critic, while never doubting that you are the best thing since sliced bread.

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