Artist of the Month: ARCY

by Dr. Jessie Voigts /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture
Dec 01, 2016 / 0 comments

I first spotted them as we drew into the parking lot of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore's Visitor Center. Stunned at this unexpected, extraordinary beauty, I hopped out of the car almost as soon as Ed had put it into park. I ran around and spotted an owl, deer, fox, trout, and sandhill crane - all enormous murals of local animals, beautifully painted by artist Ryan ARCY Christenson.  

After we got home, I dug in - and fell in love with ARCY's art. His work? It redefines what art is, and can be. I have a feeling you'll love it, too. 

We were lucky enough to chat with ARCY - here's what he had to say...

Self-portrait, Dubuque, Iowa. From Graffiti Artist ARCY
Self-portrait, Dubuque, Iowa

How long have you been an artist?
Well, I will be approaching 30 next year, and I have been actively pursuing art since I was a child, so it’s been a while!  

Chapel Hill, NC. From Graffiti Artist ARCY
Chapel Hill, NC

Is your art your full-time career?
Absolutely! No day passes me by where I am not reminded of how lucky I am to be able to do what I love, and support my family doing it.

San Diego, CA. From Graffiti Artist ARCY
San Diego, CA

Manhattan, NYC. From Graffiti Artist ARCY
Manhattan, NYC

The trajectory of graffiti as art is an interesting topic - how did your art morph (or how people saw your art?) into what it is now? How do you teach others graffiti art? 
Graffiti as an art form has been constantly evolving since its pioneering days on city blocks and subway train cars. I was heavily influenced by this culture at a young age, and attribute my career success to this form of art, stereotyped or not. With that being said, the works that people know me for today display significant emphasis on my graffiti roots, infused in the photorealistic skills that I have come to perfect over the years.

In my honest opinion, graffiti art cannot be taught, rather embraced. Growing up, I relied immensely on my crewmates. I observed, and reflected, and over the years, my style developed. My number one piece of advice: never be afraid to stand on the shoulders of giants.

Chicago, IL. From Graffiti Artist ARCY
Chicago, IL

Duuude. From Graffiti Artist ARCY

What materials do you prefer?
Two words… SPRAY PAINT! All of my large scale work is completed entirely in spray paint alone, it is my number one go-to medium, and the one that I have grown to be most comfortable working with. Montana Cans (based in Germany) is my paint partner - the best paint in the world.

Chicago, IL - Grandstand Mural. From Graffiti Artist ARCY
Chicago, IL - Grandstand Mural - above and below

Chicago, IL - Grandstand Mural. From Graffiti Artist ARCY

Where/How are you inspired?
As mentioned previously, my largest source of inspiration points directly to my graffiti roots. Each and every piece that I create emphasizes paint splashes, splatters, and drips, which I attribute to the raw nature of the art form. Although I dabbled with photorealism in my earlier years, it became more relevant to the focus of my work when I started touring nationwide. It’s one thing to create amazing abstract pieces, but throw photorealism in the mix and you have that ultimate wow factor for the crowds.

Ambition Within, Rock Springs, WV (ARCY's son Sean, 4). From Graffiti Artist ARCY

Ambition Within, Rock Springs, WV (ARCY's son Sean, 4) - above and below

Ambition Within, Rock Springs, WV (ARCY's son Sean, 4). From Graffiti Artist ARCY

Ithaca, NY. From Graffiti Artist ARCY
Ithaca, NY

How do you choose your painting subjects? 
Wildlife is definitely my number one go-to for my live event murals when touring the country as ARCY Live! simply because, who doesn’t love animals? There will always be a certain group of people at every stop that I make that will be infatuated with that piece’s particular subject matter. My larger projects will entail more flexibility in size and content, which allows me to focus on additional dynamics in my photorealism subject matter.

Channahon, IL. From Graffiti Artist ARCY
Channahon, IL

Circus Circus, Reno, NV. From Graffiti Artist ARCY
Circus Circus, Reno, NV

Freedom, Memphis, TN. From Graffiti Artist ARCY
Freedom, Memphis, TN

What are the challenges of creating large-scale art?
What aren’t the challenges! When you are dealing with large-scale murals, the most important thing to pay attention to is correctly scaling your subject matter. Whether you are using a projector, a grid system, or free-styling from scratch, it is very, very easy to confuse yourself with properly scaling the mural if you don’t exercise vital preparations. Secondary concerns that come to mind would be the need to order/maintain enough project inventory so that you don’t run out of key colors on large scale walls. Weather is also a huge factor, especially when you are working with a tight schedule with specific deadline dates and projects that abut one another.

Colorado State Fair. From Graffiti Artist ARCY
Colorado State Fair

Whale of a Wall. From Graffiti Artist ARCY
Whale of a Wall

If you were not an artist. what would you do?
Well, if I stuck with my childhood dream, I would be playing professional basketball for the Chicago Bulls! In all reality, if I didn’t have my art to rely on, I would be working alongside my father at his lawn care business.

Larger than life. From Graffiti Artist ARCY
Larger than life

Into the Jungle. From Graffiti Artist ARCY
Into the Jungle

How can our readers find and purchase your art?
Anyone interested in acquiring original works or booking me for their next event should reach out to my management at

My Windham Project, Willimantic, CT. From Graffiti Artist ARCY
My Windham Project, Willimantic, CT

Venice Beach, CA. From Graffiti Artist ARCY
Venice Beach, CA

Would you like to share anything else with us?
Don’t forget to spot the Hidden Mickeys! I have been hiding mouse ears in all of my pieces since taking my work worldwide. They are a nice connection I have made between myself and my two little boys back home. A piece of them are in every mural I create.

New Haven, CT (ARCY's son Sean, 4). From Graffiti Artist ARCY
New Haven, CT (ARCY's son Sean, 4)

Wallingford, CT (ARCY's son Connor, 2). From Graffiti Artist ARCY
Wallingford, CT (ARCY's son Connor, 2)

Walt, Marceline, MO. From Graffiti Artist ARCY
Walt, Marceline, MO

Find ARCY online:

Wyoming's Big Show. From Graffiti Artist ARCY
Wyoming's Big Show


All photos courtesy and copyright ARCY