Featured Artist Ryan Jones creates fractured cinematic scenes on canvas.

Known for his contemporary realist paintings, Ryan Jones creates paintings that refract our modernity through lenses of the past—re-contextualizing archival imagery as a means of telling new stories.

Primarily self-taught as an oil painter, Jones worked as a matte painter for George Lucas on scores of Hollywood films. Thus, his eye for cinematic intrigue helped mold a distinct lens through which he viewed the world.

With references spanning film, advertising, and media across several decades, Jones’ fracturing and reassembling of the subject matter speaks to both the relentless passing of time as well as the perpetuation of cultural memory.

Jones's talent for painting for the silver screen echoes in his paintings’ luminous highlights and manipulated depth. His signature use of a divided canvas (evoking storyboards created for scripts or screenplays) also allows for disparate scenes to accumulate towards a larger narrative.

Artwork Archive got the chance to ask Ryan Jones more about his creative process, his career in Hollywood, and how he uses Artwork Archive to manage his continued success. You can see more of his work on Discovery and learn more about it below. 

Ryan Jones, 'Candy', 60 x 48 in

 

Has your work changed over time—do you find yourself understanding your art career through different periods of expression?

Definitely. Each year brings themes that come and go. In their wake, new ideas are born in different directions. 

Age, life events, and cultural changes all factor into what I focus on in my daily life so, naturally, my art practice comes along for the ride.

 I’m not an artist who paints the same thing over and over again—I like exploring. 

 

Do you have a favorite or most satisfying part of your process?
 

Finishing a painting and feeling like there is nothing left to do—the work is complete—is my favorite part of my process. 

Exhibition openings are thrilling in an entirely different way. You get to bear witness to the accumulation of all your hard work in a space for others to appreciate. For an artist, there is nothing quite as special as that.

 

 

What has your artistic education consisted of (formal or not)? If you did receive a formal education like an MFA, did you find it necessary for your artistic growth, or did you find that elsewhere?


The most important part of any education is the relationships you have with your peers in that environment. That is what continues on and serves you later in life. 

I studied art as a minor at Stanford and took additional classes at CCAC during the summers. At the time, my focus was computer graphics oriented and I only had a couple of fundamental painting classes. 

Years later, I started painting again. From that point on, everything was self-taught as trial and error. Hundreds of paintings and thousands of hours later, it doesn’t really feel like it was learned anywhere—the style and method just evolved over time. 

Getting out, seeing art in spaces, and being around other artists is important. The more exposure to classes, teachers, history, books, galleries and museums, the better.  

Ryan Jones, 'Always Wanting More​'48 x 60 in

 

Can you speak a bit about the path you took to get into the Hollywood film industry? What did that journey look like for you after college? 

I graduated college in 2003 and digital special effects were becoming very popular in Hollywood films. Being a Bay Area native—and a lifelong fan of Star Wars—I had naturally heard of Lucasfilm and Industrial Light & Magic (ILM). 

I started to really become interested in working there and, with the increasing popularity of computers in the VFX industry combined with my love of art, a job in that space seemed like a perfect fit.   

I had an internship at Pixar throughout my Junior year of college. This was great exposure and further fueled the fire. After graduating, I was accepted as an entry-level Technical Assistant at ILM and that's where it all started. 

Many years later, and I've worked on over 40 feature films as a Technical Director, a Matte Painting Artist, and a Senior Generalist Artist. All of which are different disciplines that use digital special effects and artistry to make movie magic on the big screen.   

 

How has your experience working in Hollywood impacted your creative practice?

In the film industry (and particularly with visual effects), the goal is usually to have the work appear realistic. So, you start really examining things like reflections, specular highlights, and the way lighting affects shapes differently. 

While I may not aspire to be a photorealist in my personal art practice, parts of that process have definitely informed my eye and my work. 

It's probably most apparent in my paintings that have cars and objects up close. Composition, framing, hazing, focus, and vignetting are all other film elements that undoubtedly can be applied in the painting realm.  

Ryan Jones, 'Daytona', 60 x 72 in

 

Why did you decide to use Artwork Archive to inventory/manage your artwork?

After a couple of years of relying on my personal record keeping, I realized it just wasn’t cutting it. 

A Google spreadsheet would not be enough, and I wanted photos with detailed data stored for each piece on a platform that could organize it all. 

I started searching online for a solution and voilà, Artwork Archive

With Artwork Archive, I now have detailed records on where my artwork goes, when, how much it sells for, and to whom.  

Ryan Jones, 'Last Night'72 x 60 in

 

How do you use Artwork Archive on a daily basis?

Whenever I complete a new work of art, make a sale, or move inventory, I make a note of it in Artwork Archive. 

It's been invaluable for record-keeping and cataloging transactions. 

Additionally, being able to make Portfolio Pages for myself or clients within a given set of criteria is incredibly convenient as well. 

At the end of each year, I generate a Sales Report and a Catalog of that year’s work, which I save digitally and also print out to store in binders in my studio. 

It’s a great way to look back and see what was accomplished in a given year.

 

What advice would you give an emerging artist during this time?
 

Pursue your passion, listen to your inner voice, and believe!  

Have fun.

Ryan Jones,'Big Split', 60 x 60 in

Ryan Jones uses Artwork Archive to track his artwork, sales transactions, and build his own artistic legacy.

You can make an online portfolio, catalog your artwork, and generate reports like inventory reports, tear sheets, and invoices in seconds with Artwork Archive. Take a look at Artwork Archive's free trial and start growing your art business.