As his sketch process is integral to his artwork, Ryan McGinness is an avid activist of his early designs. His latest book, "Sketchbook Selections" (Gingko Press) is a culled collection of his sketches and notes from the past thirteen years. Presented in a non-chronological order, he revisits and revises his early drawings to see a greater sense of continuity across his body of work, which includes painting, sculpture, installations and exhibitions.
With the launch of "Sketchbook Selections" at Art Basel Miami this upcoming weekend at The Standard Spa, we're happy to be celebrating the release with Ryan McGinness this Friday, December 6th. We sat down with him beforehand to talk about his sketchbooks, as well as the process of putting together such a comprehensive anthology of his creative practice.
Hi, Ryan. What role does role of the sketchbook play during your process of creating new work?
All my work starts with sketching. Every single element in a painting, for example, is the result of a sketch process. Exhibition concepts begin as notes, painting compositions start as thumbnails, installation layouts take shape, and ideas are logged in the sketchbooks. The sketches are the seeds, and the sketchbooks are the seed banks for my studio practice. They are the most valuable things in my studio.
What was it like going through over a decade's worth of material to put this together?
The process of combing through thirteen years of sketchbooks was therapeutic. Like most compendiums, this project is all about editing. As a result, this is a “best of” book and is a way to efficiently back-up the original sketchbooks.
From what I've seen, there seems to be a sense of continuity to the the sketches — do you see an overriding theme within the thirteen years depicted here?
There are a few threads that are sewn together through this collection of sketches, but yes, one overriding theme that has emerged is expressed as curiosities about representation.
In the "Sketchbook Selections", there's a lot of little notes and copy, how do these text pieces figure into your process?
The texts are notes to myself, ideas for titles, and slogans that their way into the typography-based works — primarily the buttons posted on Instagram that are building toward larger pieces for an exhibition at Pace Prints next spring.
It seems like the process of "Sketchbook Selections" has provided an opportunity for ordered chaos, would that be accurate to say?
This is a RAM collection (Random Access Memory), not unlike how we store information in our brains. New interpretations for contemplation are gained by juxtaposing the ideas out-of-order. What is lost is a sense of progression and a sense of historical development, which is worth losing in exchange for a more dynamic presentation — but yes, it's totally ordered chaos.