The following is an interview with Ryan Claytor regarding the Kickstarter campaign launch for One Bite at a Time, an oversized hardcover collecting 20 years of his work as an artist and university professor. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Claytor about his creative process in revisiting his life’s work to compile the collection, what he is most excited for readers to experience with the hardcover, what’s next for his work, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the launch of your Kickstarter campaign! What can you tell us about your experience in revisiting your life’s work to compile this collection?
Ryan Claytor: Before I get started, thanks for chatting with me about my latest publication, Barbra. I appreciate the opportunity to chat with the Fanbase Press community.
To answer your question, I’m an educator and I think a byproduct of that is my deep interest in process and seeing how people do what they do. With this art book, I wanted to provide that type of experience in hopes of pulling back the creative curtain and showing how each project came to light. Consequently, the reader can expect more than just a parade of pretty pictures. One Bite at a Time promises to provide a bit of context and a behind-the-scenes look at what it took to make the finished pieces.
Additionally, I’m a designer, and this book will be the most complex print project I’ve ever coordinated. With this being a celebration of my first 20 years of comics, illustration, and design work, I really wanted to make this a special publication. Not only will it feature over 240 pages of content, but it will push the theme of process in new directions with a number of production extras, like gatefolds, vellum overlays, and die-cut reveals.
For example, this is a piece of my original artwork that will be featured in the book…
…reproduced from a nice high-resolution scan…
…but I mentioned those production extras earlier, so here’s the spread featuring the original art shown above with some custom die-cut windows (holes) to display a “before” version of the image (rendered in raw pencil and ink on bristol paper) with an “after” version (scanned, cleaned, and colored) visible behind it:
The red circles above will not have red on them, that’s simply to draw your eye to the shape of those die-cut holes in the page. So, when the book is printed, you’ll be able to see the final image behind the printed original art.
Then when you turn the page, the holes will reveal the same type of before and after scenario for the finished page on the left:
I’m thrilled to showcase the process behind creating this work in a number of different ways throughout this book. This is just one of them.
BD: What are some of the fun backer rewards that are available to those who contribute to your Kickstarter campaign?
RC: Well, I know I’m partial, but I think the base, physical reward (the book itself) is going to be pretty spectacular. But for backers who might be interested in something more, I’m offering a tier that comes with an additional commemorative print and patch:
The prints will have a stunning raised copper foil treatment to them and the patches, which arrived in my hands not long ago, turned out exactly as I’d hoped.
Another tier that I’m looking forward to fulfilling is the “Book Club” tier…
…which gives the backer an invitation-only experience with me. I really enjoy having an opportunity to connect with readers, so I’ll meet exclusively with the folks who backed this tier, give a presentation on the making of this book, and answer any questions they’ll have after receiving One Bite at a Time.
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that your work may connect with and impact readers?
RC: The other day, my young son asked me, “Daddy, when did you know what you wanted to do when you grow up?” I proceeded to tell him a meandering tale of several positions I held on my way to becoming a “Professor of Comics”. The moral was, I didn’t always know precisely what I wanted to do, but allowed myself to continually and passionately move toward my interests and eventually opportunities arose. When I step back and examine this book as a whole, it is essentially the story of how one illustration led to another and before I knew it, I’d formed a fulfilling career. That adventure can feel long, plodding, and even scary when experiencing it in real time, but a fulfilling life is not made overnight. I hope there’s a similar take-away for readers, young and…less young…who might need a reminder that fulfillment is often found in the act of pursuing it.
BD: As you look ahead, are there any next projects or artistic avenues that you plan to pursue in the next 20 years?
RC: Oh, yes! The book is very deliberately subtitled, “THE FIRST twenty years of Elephant Eater Comics.” Ha-ha! The next projects I’ll be working on are both with my Coin-Op Carnival co-writer and best bud Nick Baldridge. First, I’ll be tackling art duties on a scratch-build electro-mechanical inspired arcade game we’re collaborating on. Once that’s finished, I’ll jump back onto art duties for the second issue of our illustrated magazine about the fascinating history and people behind pinball and arcade games, Coin-Op Carnival.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find out more about One Bite at a Time, the Kickstarter campaign, and your other work?
RC: I’ve got a custom URL to make it easy for interested parties to find the campaign for One Bite at a Time, my new art book…
Otherwise, my website is a great place to find out more about my work:
Thanks, again, for your time and interest in my work, Barbra. Sincerely.