Ryan Atkins is a Seattle-based video artist and the director of PAACHN’s first two video campaigns: “The Boxer” and “What’s The Story.” A self-trained videographer and photographer, Ryan enjoys exploring the intersection of art, communication, and technology.
Our team sat down to talk with Ryan about how he chose his artistic path and what he does to stay inspired. The interview covers:
- How a surf and culture magazine from the 90s inspired his style
- What it means to communicate
- The 3 things Ryan does when he’s looking for inspiration
- 5 things he can’t live without as a creative professional
- How he came up with the concept for “The Boxer” video
- Why his end-of-day routine is as important as his morning routine
PAACHN: Hi Ryan, we’re excited to chat with you today about creativity, inspiration, and art. We’d love to know how you developed your passion for photography and videography…
Ryan: My passion for photography developed out of a desire to understand all the topics and terms my photographer friends would discuss.
When I finally got into shooting, I learned by taking my brother’s Canon 5D out on climbs I was making in Washington State’s backcountry. I loved photographing mountains, glaciers, forests, rivers, and anything else we would encounter on our climbs. My best friend, a professional photographer, has been a great inspiration and mentor to me.
I love printing my photos too. I mostly print large panoramas, and it’s such a sense of accomplishment to see them framed and hanging on the wall after all the hard work.
My passion for video developed from watching my brother work as a videographer and wanting to understand that field more. I enjoy how combining music, color, and motion lets you tell a story and convey emotion.
PAACHN: What were your early influences, and how did they shape how you created content?
The way he used texture, color, imagery, and typography has inspired much of what I do. His magazine layouts were more art than anything else. The effect was to tell a story in such a way that the reader became an active participant rather than a passive observer. You have to look at some of his layouts to understand what I mean.
One of his quotes I always go back to is, “Don’t confuse legibility with communication.” This quote reminds me that to truly communicate, content creators need to engage their viewers at the subconscious level. The more we understand our viewers’ unverbalized desires and speak to those desires, the better we can communicate our message.
PAACHN: What did your day-to-day look like when you started out? What does it look like now?
Ryan: Ha, every day I’m just starting, it feels. I’ll probably figure things out at some point.
PAACHN: What are the top 3 activities you do when looking for inspiration?
- Get out in nature and do something that makes me forget what I’m working on. Inspiration strikes when you stop trying so hard.
- Listen to music, usually punk rock, while I work on photo processing or other graphics-related side projects.
- I get a lot of inspiration by listening to books and podcasts. I like audio because I can play with ideas in my mind while I listen.
PAACHN: What are the things you couldn’t live without to live your life as a creative person?
Ryan: I’m going to answer this more abstractly…
Limits: They force you to think in non-conventional ways.
People: Because what’s the point of being creative if no one is there to experience it.
Nature: It helps put things into perspective and raises my emotional energy.
An open mind: Creativity is the ability to realize undiscovered relationships, which requires an open mind.
Tools: You need tools to realize your vision. For me, that usually means a computer and software.
PAACHN: What was your inspiration for the first PAACHN Story?
Ryan: “The Boxer” had a unique challenge because we couldn’t do an in-person interview with Campbell himself, so we had to get creative.
I had the idea of filming projected video footage and imagery as I had seen in a surf movie a few years back. I had always wanted to do my own version of this. And because I knew we had video interviews of Campbell La Pun, this was the perfect opportunity to finally use that projection concept.
It was a great experience to work with PAACHN’s founder, Daniel, to figure out what shots we wanted, and how to piece the narrative together. Post-production was a lot of fun as well.
PAACHN: What are you listening to these days?
Ryan: I listen to lots of different music, from rock to country, jazz, and rap—I even had a box seat at the opera for a few seasons.
However, I grew up listening to blink-182, Green Day, Offspring, and every other punk band from the late ’90s. Those types of bands are still in heavy rotation for me. The reason is that it’s just fun music to listen to and keeps me in a good mood. I always seem to be discovering “new” music from back then.
PAACHN: What gets you up in the mornings?
Ryan: Progress is what gets me up in the morning.
If I feel like I’m killing it and creating opportunities, it’s easy to get up and attack the day. If I feel like I’m in a rut, it’s tough to get moving.
I’ve learned to use journals and various scoreboards to help me keep a sense of day-to-day progress. I need a goal, objective, or ideal to always work towards. If I don’t have that, I get bored.
PAACHN: How do you start your day?
Ryan: I enjoy going on walks first thing in the morning. I’m fortunate to live on an island only 20 minutes from the water. That’s a great way to start a day, or something to do midday.
When I’m really organized, I make time for a walk and breakfast, and I take time to review the day before it begins. That level of organization comes and goes in phases. Ending my day is just as important as how it begins. That usually means a workout and some form of journaling to close out the day.
PAACHN: How do you stay inspired?
Ryan: Living your passion is a constant struggle. Failure is a day-to-day thing until it is not.
I’m inspired by the process of learning to be better than I was the day before. And I like being around like-minded people. Folks who understand the struggle because they are living their own passion. Over the last year, I’ve been inspired by the journey of some very close friends, and that’s helped me out tremendously.
PAACHN: What do you think you will be talking about in 5 years?
Ryan: The common thread in most of what I do is an emphasis on the viewer’s experience. The next five years will be centered on enhancing that experience by leveraging technology. Some emerging technology like augmented and virtual reality and conversational AI, but also discovering creative uses of tech we’ve been living with for years.
This is why I’m so excited about the connected clothing that PAACHN is producing!
*This interview was first published for PAACHN’s initial launch in 2020.
Every story worth telling starts with an obstacle, and ours was launching one month before the COVID-19 pandemic put the world on lockdown. We didn’t give up. We believe our story is worth telling. We spent the last years re-evaluating our strategy, finding new suppliers, and developing new products. And now we’re ready to help you live with passion.