By Tammy Scileppi
Raw emotions often play a part in making awesome, conversation-sparking art.
That’s certainly true of Ryan Castrillo’s dynamic creations. Each of his works seems to exude a raw, almost palpable, vibe.
“I began drawing and painting as a means of coping after my grandmother’s passing [a few years ago]. At first, when I lost her, it didn’t sink in; I was in shock for a few months. I kinda just got the urge to draw at some point,” the young artist from Forest Hills recalled.
“I kept honing my craft over the years to create an experimental, raw and tactile style, influenced by a mixture of manga, pop art and avant-garde animation, to create something magical.”
A game design major at Drexel University in Philadelphia, the 22-year-old Castrillo uses acrylic and water for his paintings. But digitally, he employs a variety of tools like Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, or a sketching app called Paper by FiftyThree.
And there’s no doubt that his obsession with and knowledge of video games ties in to his other talents, as a “new age” artist.
“A lot of up and coming games aren’t the typical Call of Duty or GTA (Grand Theft Auto); they are more artistic pieces that come together in an interactive experience. The new era of indies [independent games] is one of avant-garde experimentation rather than rinse and repeat,” Castrillo said.
“What I mean is they don’t necessarily fit the standard mold of a shoot’em up game — the most mainstream title being Call of Duty, or standard open world games like GTA,” he added. “They tend to either take a new spin on different genres or be more stylized and artistic and have movie caliber writing to their stories. The artistic aspect and innovative nature is certainly true for independent titles.”
Castrillo was inspired to paint and draw shortly after starting college and wanted to expand his artistic horizons. He said that creating art has been a way of “coping with the curveballs life has thrown at me” and with “glum day-to-day life.”
While he enjoys painting in open, grassy parks around his school, when he’s home, the artist finds inspiration at McDonald Park in Forest Hills or Washington Square Park in the city.
Describing his artwork, Castrillo explained that with his ‘skeleton in a hoodie’ piece — “a self-reflection of isolation” — he experimented with compositing his sketches onto photographs.
“It’s a digital painting symbolizing internal conflict and accepting one’s self,” he said. “Personally, my favorite one is the stitched-up [fragmented] heart with an arrow pointing upwards, simply saying, ‘Everything will be okay.’ I made it shortly after a messy rejection.”
Besides playing video games and sketching, the artist said he likes listening to vinyl, playing guitar, and skateboarding.
Being the only other creative in his family besides his grandma, who painted as well, Castrillo said he feels he has “a responsibility to kind of carry the torch along.”
“What pains me is that no matter how far I go with this, she’ll never see any of my art. But I always manage to keep the necklace she gave me as a way of her possibly watching me, even though she’s gone,” he said. “In a way, making art helps me by keeping a connection with her…from one artist to another.”
You can view this up and coming artist’s masterpieces, which will be on display March 13 at 6:30 p.m., along with 30-to-40 other New York City artists’ works, at a hip exhibit called RAW Brooklyn presents REFLECT (Brooklyn Night Bazaar — 150 Greenpoint Avenue).
The event is for ages 18 and over. Tickets are available for $25 (pre-sale) or $30 (at the door).
For tickets and more information, visit rawartists.org/brooklyn/reflect.