Creatvity Talk on Culture Night (Sept 23rd)

I’m thrilled to announce that I will be participating in a panel discussion about creativity on Culture Night (Sept 23rd) at The Tara Building. I’m really looking forward to sharing some stories and learning more from other fellow creatives, and I have no doubt you will enjoy it too. It’s part of a broader night of carefully curated creative connections with live music, interesting conversations, art tours, and a DJ set. Best of all it’s completely FREE, but you will have to reserve a ticket here.

Details of my panel discussion below:

8pm: Creative Conversation #1 – How We Make It

A panel of multi-disciplinary artists and creatives share their journeys from idea to execution.

Feat: Kalle Ryan, Ruth Medjber, Ashwin Chacko, and Rob de Boer

Be inspired by people who have published books, released songs, planned exhibitions, designed brands and more.

Kalle Ryan: Irish-Swedish writer, songwriter, playwright, actor, and festival curator.

Ruth Medjber: Photographer and artist working on everything from music festivals through portrait projects and charitable partnerships.

Ashwin Chacko: Indian author, illustrator and motivational speaker based in Dublin. Champions creativity and empower people to find their inner spark.

Followed by Q&A and a very special live performance Rob de Boer

Full listing of the evening’s events at The Tara Building here

Lilies & Cannonballs – My first published work

Back in the early 2000s I lived in New York City and it was a brilliantly rich time of creativity for me. In addition to working on the now defunct arty website, and being in a band, I was beginning to explore poetry and spoken word in a deeper way. I had always written poetry, some of it quite traditional, but some of it quite odd and experimental. This writing was purely written for my own amusement and creative impulses. Not once did I think it would find a published home, but that changed in 2004 when I befriended the writer Dan Connor, who was setting up a new literary journal called “Lilies & Cannonballs Review” (LCR). The name always reminded me of the rock band Guns n’ Roses, but it actually takes its name from a phrase by the Chilean poet Vicente Huidobro – “Take a lily and a cannonball, mix them together, there you have my soul”. I was impressed by such an exciting vision for the journal, a place where the ridiculous and the sublime could co-exist. On Dan’s insistence, I submitted three slightly odd pieces to him as editor, and to my utter delight, they were selected for publication. It was my first time being published, and I would not have predicted that these would have been the ones that made it onto ink and paper. What’s more, my pieces were the closing selections in the debut issue of the journal (LCR Vol. 1 No. 1). In my mind I was the headline act. He was saving the best for last. Or perhaps mine were buried at the back for the more adventurous reader. Nevertheless, they were chosen and I was buoyant. One of the more offbeat pieces I wrote is reproduced from the journal below, and it doesn’t scream “publish me” but Dan had a wicked sense of humour, and was very supportive, so what do I know?

The rush of being published lasted for a while and gave me real hope that I could perhaps even make a career out of writing. In the end I did, albeit in a very different way in Corporate Internal Communications. Nevertheless, a fire was lit and I continued to submit pieces to the journal (which was published twice a year). And during that time I was rejected, which did sting, but it was also a good learning curve in the world of getting your work published. 

It wasn’t until three issues later (LCR Vol 2. No. 2) that I was able to get my next piece published. It would turn out to be my last publication in the journal. This time it was a quirky play/movie about two characters called Freddie & Jam-Jam, which was a prequel of sorts to my piece published in New Planet Cabaret some years later. I can see that my writing had gotten more focused and more precise by this time, but there is still the same quirky humour and mischievous spirit to it. 

I was so taken with the journal and the platform it gave to different voices, that I offered my services as a reader of incoming submissions. I soon joined the editorial reading group and I continued to do it for several years until I left New York. Being a reader was a terrific (and sometimes boring) experience, with real insights into what it takes to get published, and more eye-openingly, the standard of submissions that a journal receives. Ranging from full-blown masterpieces to embarrassing half-thoughts posing as literature. I loved it and it forced me to consider work that existed outside my relatively narrow reading habits & norms, as well as sharpening my critical eye for what good looked like. It was another layer in my creative journey that I look back on with great fondness. In particular I loved seeing it come together in the final stages of editing. There was real care and thought put into selecting the writing, and indeed the artwork that also graced its pages. In fact, my own father Tony Ryan had a couple of his etchings and monoprints published in LCR Vol. 2 No. 1, which was a special moment for him, and point of pride for me

Alas, the journal is no longer being published. It too was a casualty of time and money in an increasingly difficult creative landscape. But it will always have a special place in my heart as a writer. If it wasn’t for the encouragement of Lilies & Cannonballs, I may not have persisted. For that I will always be grateful. 

Rakattak – 14 guitars, 16 amps, 1 mallet

One of the most creative periods of my life was when I was collaborating on the website No idea was too big or too small to be explored creatively. One such idea was a series of pop up ads for fake products & services. We zeroed in on a series of fake musical instruments and equipment. 

The Rakattak was a wild concept whereby 14 Fender electric guitars are suspended by springs inside 16 amps (on high distortion). Each guitar is in an open tuning to a note on a musical scale (not sure why we didnt design it with 16 guitar to cover two octaves) and an accompanying large mallet to strike each guitar, as if it were a large  vibraphone or xylophone. We imagined an unruly, melodic sound that would make My Bloody Valentine smile quietly. The ads only show the instrument in glimpses, but here is the original design by Dave Bagnall

You may also notice in the ads that the company producing and selling these musical items is called ChickenScratch. This always tickled me. I believe it was one of Dave’s ideas that was thrown out there randomly. And it stuck. 

The accompanying ChickenScratch logo was designed to look like a vinyl record that is stretching (time and space?), as well as sparking thoughts of the belt in a record player, or some similar analog piece of equipment. 

We both had a deep affinity for analog equipment in a world that was becoming increasingly digital (ironically using a digital medium to say it). So, the ChickenScratch tagline is reflective of our love for all things analog – “Analog solutions for a digital world”. In this slice of creativity we managed to achieve that to the fullest.

Video Postcards from the Edgemont

Another road trip up into the Appalachian mountains, where we wound our way through the Pisgah Forest to a little parish called Edgemont. The sun was shining and we drifted lazily down the creek on inner-tubes, trailing our hands in the refreshingly cool mountain stream. I captured some of the trip on my Rayban Stories and tested out the montage feature once again. Here is the creative output from the AI editor.

Road Trip – Filmed and edited with Rayban Stories

We did a lot of driving during the summer in North Carolina. Without a car you would be lost. I should note, it’s also possible to get lost with a car sometimes. Nevertheless, given the amount of time we were in a car, I thought I would test out filming our travels with my new Rayban Stories, which allow you to film 30 second video clips at the press of a button on the side if the glasses. I stitched the footage together in the Facebook View app using the Create function, and the end result is the little film above. A creative work powered by AI. Not a Wim Wenders movie as the end result, but a pretty decent little home movie nevertheless.

Oh deer!

I am working remotely at the edge of the woods in the wilds of North Carolina for a couple of weeks, and my “commute” involves a short walk through the yard to a building under the canopy of several tall trees. This morning I was enjoying the sunshine on my face and breathing in the air, when I saw a fellow commuter on four legs walk through. I grabbed my phone and quickly captured the moment. In the spirit of creativity I added some music (Tupac) with a play on words.

Take this survey about creativity!

I recently joined a Creative Network here in Ireland and we have been exploring what makes us tick as creatives, as well as our relationship between creativity and work. As part of that, we are curious to learn more about fellow creatives around the world, so we built this little survey to understand your creative journey, especially as it pertains to your working life, creative process, as well as creative applications & inspirations. If you have 5 minutes, we would be super grateful if you filled in the survey (we will NOT share your information with any 3rd party, that is NOT cool) and if you could pass on the link to other creatives in your network. Happy to share the final results here once the results are tallied and made into pretty graphs and charts. Thanks in advance! 

Paschal Quigley – The greatest Irish singer-songwriter of all time?

Paschal Quigley is the greatest singer-songwriter that Ireland has ever produced. He is also a figment of my imagination. For over a decade I have been writing and recording a radio mockumentary about his storied career in the Irish indie music scene. The script for that is almost complete, but I will post more about that in the coming months.

Down the years I have recorded a selection of Paschal’s most vital songs, as he traverses through many musical genres and phases of disillusionment. The song above is his indie smash Damascus that chronicles a moment of blinding realisation about his place in the music industry, while on a road trip to Cork. It might be his best song. 

Throughout Paschal’s story he is a shapeshifter and reinvents himself. At some point in the late 90s Paschal pivots to punk and writes this rage filled reaction to his short-lived stint as an office temp. It also marks the moment he goes “electrical” at the first (and also last) Dungarvan folk festival. Play it LOUD!

Three Men Talking About Things That They Kinda Know About – Limited Edition 10th Anniversary

For anyone new to my website, I just wanted to holler about the recent publication of our award-nominated spoken word play, Three Men Talking About Things They Kinda Know About. A decade ago we staged this show at the Dublin Fringe and subsequently toured it around Europe to huge critical acclaim. It was one of the most fulfilling and important artistic experiences of my life, and you can read more about the genesis and creation of the show here.

As for the book itself, we put incredible thought and care into creating something that was a unique work of art in-and-of-itself, with a cover produced on a letterpress printing press, on high quality handmade paper, which gives it a really unique look and feel. Inside the pages we have lots of gold too, with new forewords from myself and the other authors, archival photos, and essays from our Director, Sarah Brennan, as well as Irish Times journalist Gemma Tipton.

This unique 10th anniversary limited edition book is for sale right now directly from this website, so please consider supporting independent artists by picking up a copy today!