STAY SAD

14702300_553586204839702_3886352104856210670_n-2
Many of us that suffer from mental health issues have been told to “stop being sad” or a variation of comparison to sadness. For many, this is frustrating because sadness is definitely not depression, it’s so much more in every way. For many fighting the stigma, there’s a conversation to highlight this difference. We here at #depressedmonsters want to embrace this sentiment of sadness and move to empower the statement of #staysad in a way that emboldens those of us suffering from depression/anxiety. So the next time someone says, “you’re depressed? Just stop being sad” we can empower ourselves and use this to seek balance and seek creative ways to fight depression. For me, it’s Yerman that helps. For you, it may be something entirely different. If you’re feeling down right now and riding the waves of depression in a ship that seems to never find anchor anywhere stable, I want you to “Find your #Yerman” and find your balance. We are all in this together. Stay sad, stay creative, stay living. You are loved. – Ryan

#STAYSAD

Secret Walls

Processed with VSCO with x1 preset

Last night I had the privilege to partake in a 6 person battle royale alongside Eric Vozzola, M!scre8, Manny Fernandez, Skewl94 and Acebooncoonart. The battle which is part of Secret Walls, a world-wide organization, was held at Gold Spike and was a 90 minute, black and white illustration comp in which no one is allowed to use references, tools or any color but black paint; to say it’s intimidating is an understatement. However, I had no idea just how hard this was going to be or the pressure that the event would bring.

In the days leading up to Secret Walls I was focusing on painting jackets and watercoloring to get my chops up. I had spent a few days in San Diego with my family where my sister was looking at colleges and enjoying the beach. Sabriel and I came home on Sunday and I started the week trying to mentally prepare for the busy week of work ahead. Tuesday morning I got a call from my sister that my family had been in an accident and I immediately rushed to California. Without getting into too much detail, this was the worst few days I’ve experienced; not knowing what’s going on with your family is an insanely surreal experience I wouldn’t want to wish on anyone.

Wednesday at 4pm, we left California to try and make it home in time for Secret Walls. The entire drive home I was trying not to freak out and just focus on getting in the zone. We pulled up to Vegas at 8pm and had 30 minutes to get ready for the event. As it started, I stood there staring at the canvas as I heard “We all know it’s going to be Yerman” from the crowd. I chuckled a bit and tried getting started. Every line didn’t feel right, every brush stroke felt off; it was 90 minutes of feeling uncomfortable as the crowd was yelling and I could feel my skin start to itch.

I reached down for more paint and ended up spilling it all over the ground, the crowd immediately yelled “OHHHHHH!” I started to sweat and shake and tried to play it off. As I started mixing new paint with water to thin it out, I dropped my headphones and cell phone into the paint. “Great now I don’t have music,” I thought to myself. Anyone that knows me knows that I depend on music to get in the zone and now I felt really uncomfortable. Eric looked over and noticed I was having a hard time and offered up his paint, bless his heart man, he’s one of the kindest people I know.

I eventually got my shit together and stopped thinking about how I should have been in California with my family and started to get in the rhythm. The 90 minutes went by fast and when it was all said and done I was ok with what was on the canvas. It wasn’t my favorite thing I’ve ever painted but it’s pretty hard to get perfect brush strokes under those conditions regardless.

The crowd was littered with friends and Yerman shirts and the crowd was the judge. I was so thankful to have such an amazing support system around me screaming for me when they called my name. I didn’t think I’d win, but I was hoping to advance to the next round. Turns out, I won first place and I couldn’t believe it. In a daze, I started cleaning up my paint and not knowing what was happening; it felt fuzzy. In the midst of screams and smiles, I felt shaky and dizzy. This was the most intense event I’ve ever been apart of, I felt like I survived. Thank you to everyone that was there whether you were there to see Yerman or one of the other amazingly talented artists. Furthermore, I can’t thank the friends in Yerman shirts enough; it brought me down from a very high bridge when I was having a panic attach in front of 50 people.

That win was for my family who are the strongest group of people I know. That win was for the family that has united around Yerman and made me feel like part of something bigger than myself. This is Team Yerman, we are all Depressed Monsters in it together and I’m so thankful to be a part of this journey with you all.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Photos by Dalton Campbell and Hew Burney

Yerman Is Going On Tour!

A few months ago, my buds in Priory (2013 Life is Beautiful alum) asked me to paint their lead guitar; a custom Telecaster. I was over the moon excited to work on this bad boy and after some long hours, it’s finally done! Brandon Rush will be bringing this on tour with him so be on the lookout for Yerman when Priory plays a town near you!

I used mostly acrylics with this one, but also utilized some glow in the dark ink so it’ll shine bright like a diamond on stage.

FullSizeRender (2)FullSizeRender (1)CFom0O0UkAAaQdN

Designercon 2014!

YermanThis past weekend Pasadena was flooded with avid toy collectors as Designercon celebrated another year! I was lucky enough to exhibit for my first solo showing (last year I exhibited with The 80s Kids) and what a whirlwind weekend it was! If you’re not familiar with the show, it’s basically a tradeshow for unique, weird and random things of every variety. Most vendors bring vinyl toys, custom and pre-molded, but you can find so many different varieties of creative trinkets. Along with these oddities, you can also meet with some of the world’s biggest artists. During the first day of set up, I walked in to the bathroom with the legendary Frank Kozik which was surreal to say the least!

10689689_10100877392630208_5771871705711718002_n

Las Vegas artists came to the show in a very big way! With the exception of a few (Ninjabot was tucked away in a corner unfortunately) we made up a row which we affectionally called The Vegas Strip. In attendance was Juan Muniz, Mr Biggs, Lil Art Bodega, Das Frank, Snipt!, Dan45, Dillon Boy and Happy Panda Toys (all pictured above) with Jeanette Hall, Vision and Paco Alvarez attending to complete the Vegas domination. It was a blast hanging with friends and meeting new ones from the city of sin.

d

During the con, Juan Muniz and I spoke on a panel at the main stage moderated by Las Vegas arts commissioner/Zappos.com Arts Curator Paco Alvarez. The panel was called “Depression in the Arts: A Character Study” and it was a discussion on how our work is influenced by depression and isolation. If you’d like to read a little about what I spoke about, you can read my last entry about Yerman that I wrote for Suicide Prevention Day (click here for that.)

1383859_10100876643227018_5359215924231131921_n

It felt really good to speak out about what influences my work while sharing the stage with two friends but what really inspired me the most was seeing Juan unload a weight that he’s been holding onto for a long time; he shared with the crowd exactly what influenced Felipe the Bunny and it was a bomb drop. There wasn’t a dry eye in the crowd after Juan shared his story and it was an amazing experience. Once the video goes live on Designercon’s website, I will share a link on my blog. Fellow Zappos muralist, Jeanette Hall, sketched this amazing piece while watching from the audience and I absolutely adore it. She has such a way of capturing moments.

Over the weekend I was visited by a few dudes that I haven’t seen in a long time. Blake from Workaholics stopped by the booth and took home a pink Depressed Monsters shirt. JJ Villard, creator of King Star King on adultswim. also stopped by and took home a black shirt along with a comic my brother and I wrote together.  I haven’t seen Blake since Comic Con last year where we hung at the Comedy Central party with Ders and Adam. It was good seeing him again especially after last year when he hung out with Steve at our booth. JJ made this year’s Comic Con a blast after Shahab, Jacob and I hung out with him and he took us around San Diego and adultswim parties. Hopefully they like the new shirts!

10410124_10100876644180108_6832852000389502187_n10609567_10100877392754958_7836951738090929435_n

Thanks for reading and more updates to come very soon! :)

 

 

 

National Suicide Prevention Day: The Story of Yerman

07bf87ba7e1c11e290cd22000a1f90d7_7

I woke up this morning in a weird mood and I couldn’t figure out why. Life is great right now, like really ridiculous great right now, but still, I could not for the life of me shake this weird feeling. Outside, the birds were chirping and the sun was shining but all I wanted was to crawl back into my bed burrito. I haven’t felt this way in a while, this sense of emptiness that causes me to shut down and feel all alone in a crowded room, but it’s something that used to feel so commonplace in my life and the rearing of its head is definitely not welcome, nor is it easy to figure out. I sat on the edge of my bed and tried to figure out where these feelings were coming from and was instantly brought back to the darkest time in my life; a time I didn’t think I would survive, let alone birth a character you’re all familiar with now, Yerman.

In early 2012 my world was destroyed. My grandfather was struck with cancer that ultimately took his life, I surrounded myself with excessive partying and friends that didn’t care about me and I ultimately stopped recognizing myself in the mirror. I had become a shell of who I once was and at one point locked myself in my house for two weeks, creating a cocoon of isolation that I could protect myself in from the outside world. During this time I experienced feelings of self-imposed isolation, anger toward the world and honestly not thinking I would make it out of this alive. At one point, after a week and a half of not leaving my house, I started hanging dryer sheets on open windows as a sort of cleansing protocol. It wasn’t until a friend came over and pointed them out that I realized just how odd it was. Not realizing how much damage I was doing to my psyche and not fully coming to terms with my grandfather’s death, I resorted to drawing characters that reflected my mood.

45768192966011e282d422000a9e516a_7

 

I started drawing self portraits (see above) of what I thought I looked like or isolated monsters with somber faces and putting them on instagram and twitter to help myself cope with the outside world before coming out of my lonely nest of a house. During this time, I started using the #depressedmonsters hashtag and talking openly about depression with others who had these feelings. For me, social media became a way for me to speak openly and honestly about a problem that isn’t always quite so easy to talk about with friends or family because most don’t understand depression or worse, they try to compare theirs to yours and that’s not fair; just because you went through a sad time doesn’t mean you understand another’s sadness. I found that I just need to talk about what I was going through free from judgement and let it all out, it helped me to cope with my reality without knowing it. Also during this time I started really coming into my own art style and experimenting with new mediums I hadn’t touched before which allowed me to really express myself in new ways. I remember one day I was aimlessly going through storage boxes and found an old painting I found at a thrift store. I took the picture out and behind the picture was gold leaf paper. I spent the day throwing paint at it and drawing a character on it. By the end of the day I realized it had extremities about myself calling myself names and the glass had broken in the franticness. That glass breaking was my breaking point, that’s when I mentally decided I need to change something because I was on a path of destruction. I still have that painting today and it still reminds me just how bad that time period was.

After the glass incident, I started leaving my house again. Nothing crazy, I’d mostly drive to the local coffee shop, Grouchy Johns, and put headphones on and pretend to myself I was assimilating even though I was basically blending into a crowd. The self portraits I was drawing started turning more gruesome and self deprecating, they were reflecting the monster I thought I was becoming. The more I tried to get back to normal, the more I realized nothing was changing and the worse I was missing my grandfather. I continued to surround myself with crowds of people and started to move to different locations, slowly I began to open up more and more. One day I woke up and sat at my drafting table and started drawing another self portrait as it had become and indicator of how I was feeling for the day and this little guy came sprawling out.

debf3e5faefb4cedb03f54ebf87dc591

I sat back and stared at this little guy and realized he was everything I felt inside from his somber look to his fuzzy exterior, he was me. This is the day that Yerman was born and every day since has been a natural progression of feeling better and better. He truly saved me from myself.

Depression is a huge problem in this country and there’s no clear cut answer as to how to fix it. For some, it’s a mental health issue, for others it’s caused by death, life events or any number of triggers. There’s no easy way to deal with it and it’s life consuming, oftentimes isolating one from living a normal life. If you or someone you know is going through this, please speak to someone or find a healthy outlet to deal with these emotions because they’re not going to go away. I realized through all of this that my journey would be one that spans years as I didn’t deal with my grandfather’s death until a year later and I’m still having a hard time. If you need someone to talk to, Suicide Prevention Hotline can be reached 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255. They’re specially trained individuals who can help you come to terms with what’s making you sad. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to a hotline, please DM me on twitter at @vegasryan, I’m not a professional but I know how it feels to be sad.

——

Written as a part of Suicide Awareness Day 2014