New Smyrna beach Florida is commonly known for it’s vicious sharks, the Indian river and well…..taxidermy? Well not really taxidermy but after reading this interview with underground subculture icon Ryan Hanley you may change your mind.
The art to skin has become a life passion for Ryan, his works range from exhibition pieces to roadkill. So next time your about to bury your pet 6 ft under think again…..
Check out Ryan’s intriguing Q and A for THRILLS below….
Q: Firstly, at what age did you become interested in dead things?
A: Since grade 4 when i first went to science camp, I started roaming the woods looking for bones. Then my teacher let me order things such as hydraulic acid and a pig's fetus out of the science catalogue. Then I started collecting bones from the old abandoned smashed up cemetery.
Q: Can you name one defining decision or moment in your life that changed your future?
A: Visiting the taxidermy shop for the first time several years before I finally went in as an apprentice.
Q: Is it difficult juggling financial reality with creative fantasy in your work?
A: Luckily I also have my own business that allows me all the time and more to be as creative with taxidermy as I want.
Q: Where do all the animals come from that you re-master?
A: Most of the animals I have been doing lately are road kill scores. I just found a coyote the other day and last winter we found a wild boar. All the others are for customers who bring me their catch/kill.
Q: Do different jobs of species demand a different head space to get working on?
A: Just having a good album on with put me in the right space, lately it’s Vivialdi or Slayer.
Q: Do you choose your soundtrack carefully depending on the job at hand?
A: Like, listening to Samhain while making the bondage raccoon? No, I just have to always have music playing, doesn’t matter if it's classical or classic rock or classy trashy tunes.
Q: What are some of the most difficult animals to get right?
A: I wouldn’t say it’s difficult but certain animals, like pigs, you have to really work at their shoulder because of the shield they have. All animals you have to flesh out down to the nose, finger, ear, eyelid. Alligators require a sawsall to get the brains out and meat from the head and a grinder to remove the flesh from the hide. I suppose it could be difficult painting a fish to look exactly right but that’s something you can always fix and perfect. Taxidermy requires a lot of carving on the forms to get the muscle looking just right beneath the skin of the animal and getting the eyes completely set.
Q: Do you find some beasts more messy and gory than others?
A: Regarding roadkill, it all depends how the animal died. If they got hit by a car and how bad. Sometimes a neck is snapped, other times, like the coyote we just found, they have a huge gash on the side that I’ll have to sew up. some of them shit themselves and if the wound is bad, it is definitely more bloody than say a squirrel. All of it can be washed, cleaned up or mounted to hide the imperfection.
Q: What’s the one animal you roll your eyes at when you pull it out of the freezer?
A: This has yet to happen and I don’t see it really ever becoming something that would. I like doing taxidermy too much and if that day I want to roll my eyes at something, I’ll just save it for another day. We have three freezers full of animals from bobcats to snapping turtles. I am always up for a new challenge and if it’s something I do a lot, like squirrels, I’m definitely not rolling my eyes because I know how easy and fast I can get it done. That’s part of the fun about my work, it will never get boring or old because there’s always something new on the table.
Q: Do you ever ad a little quirk to the facial expressions on some projects just for your own kicks?
A: For sure. Some I make smile and others i add a snarl. For pigs you can use wolf eyes to give them a really mean look.
Q: Who have influenced you and your refined art-form of taxidermy?
A: The 65 year old crazy motherfucker who taught me, took me in at his shop and showed me everything his grandfather showed him. He tried to be a hard ass, which scared away a lot of apprentices and had a lot of guys quit but once he realized this wasn’t just a job to me, it was something I love to do, he treated me like I was his own son. Gave me old animals from the freezer, like a mink and gator heads and taught me lots of tips and tricks. He told me all taxidermists are crazy fuckers, he’s been in and out of prison his whole life and grew up a craze rockabilly hillbilly so we got along real well. When I go out to his shop there are loads of questions from new students there who have all heard him talk about me, which is cool to hear. He is proud of where I’ve taken it.
To see more of Ryan’s work check out this link LINK
And what the hell I thought I'd throw a Samhain clip in for good measure.....