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W.Ward Ryan Biography

W.Ward Ryan is an artist and designer, who is always at home with his work. His surroundings in the many varied places he has visited and lived around the world have provided the stimuli for a tremendous outpouring of creative product over the past thirty years. After studying architecture and design at Ohio State University and Columbus College Of Art And Design, Ward spent his military service as a Public Information Office photographer/writer with the 101st Airborne Division.

Upon discharge from the Army, Ward moved to Los Angeles where for the next six years he worked as a photographer with NASA on the Apollo project and MGM on many films and TV productions. Then, in 1968 Ward co-founded a commercial photo-studio in Hollywood where he designed numerous album covers for the recording industry (acquiring a Grammy Award for photography), and the advertising photography for many of the leading agencies and publishing companies.
In 1972, forsaking his career in photography for his first love, ART, Ward moved to Hawaii. For the next five years, he perfected his style as a professional illustrator, explored the Hawaiian Islands along with a three months sailing trip to Tahiti, and became deeply involved in the beginnings of the printed T-shirt industry. In 1977, after creating hundreds of graphics and the interior design of stores for the Hawaiian pioneer T-shirt company "Crazy Shirts", Ward was offered the position of Art Director for the giant national clothing company Champion Sportswear and moved to Grants Pass, Oregon.

It was his move to Southern Oregon that brought about the greatest change in Ward's art. "It is the heritage of America, the depth and beauty and wonder of its nature and a daily confrontation with our history that have influenced my work the most. Our past is not just written into history books and put on shelves, it is the beauty and pride of our country that should be touched, viewed and studied, so that by knowing the best of our past we may strive for the exceptional in our future", says Ward.

From 1977 through 1985 Ward designed and oversaw the design, with his 10 artist staff, of literally millions of garments for the international sportswear market. And, it was during this period, that he fell in love with whitewater rafting and became a whitewater guide on the spectacularly beautiful but treacherous Rogue River.

In 1985 Champion decided to move its production center to the East Coast and Ward decided to stay in Oregon and work as an independent artist/designer. Over the next six years Ward produced artwork for a long list of notable patrons while being the absentee graphics designer for both UCLA and Paisano Publications (Easy Rider/Harley Davidson). Both located in Southern California.

From his studio in Southern Oregon came a constant flow of clothing designs, magazine illustrations, book covers, jewelry... Even the University phone books. It was during this period, that Ward became deeply interested in the ancient art of Scrimshaw (art carved into ivory). With a limited supply of prehistoric (woolly mammoth) ivory acquired through friends working the gold fields of the Yukon Territory, he perfected this craft to the point that he is now recognized as a leading Master in the Art of Colored Scrimshaw.

Then in 1991 another turning point came into Ward's life. With the fall of Communism, and the opening of Russia to the outside world, Ward and a friend decided to take a vacation and visit that vast and mysterious ancient country. It was while on this tour that he found himself in the Far Northeastern mining city of Magadan, and discovered there the center of Russia's prehistoric ivory carving industry.

He promptly returned to Oregon, applied to the Russian Government for an extended visa, closed up his home and studio, and returned to Magadan, where he spent the next year and a half studying, exploring and learning how to live through a Siberian winter. Can you say -50 degrees below zero!!! Ward returned to Oregon in 1993 with a wealth of knowledge, a Russian wife, vast collection of carved prehistoric ivory and an even greater appreciation for the rights and freedoms of our Republic.

While expanding his extensive portfolio of Nature, native and historic art, Ward has created a line of limited edition hand Seri graphed/hand painted prints in the tradition and techniques developed by the famed artists James Audubon and George Catilin in the early 1800s. Ward now lives with his wife, and daughter in the picturesque little historic town of Ligonier in Southwestern Pennsylvania. He and his family travel extensively around the world pursuing subjects for his art and his second love, collecting antiques, with an occasional rafting excursion to stay in touch with Nature.

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