Tell us why you're the best applicant in under 50 words
My fondness for design and art history blends with my rigorous technical skills, allowing me to have a fresh outlook on aesthetics and the problem solving skills to create them. I am a natural leader with a strong set of interpersonal skills; I am detail oriented and eager to learn.
Give us your bio in under 500 words
My name is Ryan Olsen. I went to school in Harlem, NY at the City College of New York for Mathematics. Along the way, I started two minors in Studio Art and Computer Science. While at school, I focused on the overlapping of art and mathematics, exploring the ways both fields exert an influence on each other. Some examples of this include the tessellations of MC Escher informing the world of mathematics about tiling the plane, as well as the beauty to be seen in certain objects like fractals and how these forms spring up in nature.
The focus of much of my artwork is defined by SOFA, or Sculptural Objects Functional Art. These types of work bleed the lines between decorative and fine art, functionality and design. Through my work, I ask a number of questions: Can we consider functional artwork in itself art? At what point does functionality cease to be art? When does artwork cease to be functional? I enjoy toeing the line between what I consider to be fine art and what has practical everyday purpose. I breathe my obsession with geometric forms and other bits of mathematics into these pieces to create something wholly unique.
1. What's the most courageous thing you've ever done?
We tend to think of courage as these big bursts of effort, but perhaps it’s not just one moment that grants someone courage, but moreover consistency that promotes bravery. So while I may not have a singular “thing” that is very courageous, I believe that my efforts to diligently and persistently act as a leader are worthy of note. Everyday we face a great number of fears, be it failure, judgement, rejection; it takes a truly brave person to not only wade through these fears themself, but to also guide others along the path. I always find myself looking to help my peers and setting the example of a hard worker for others to follow, not because I am trying to make myself feel better or above others, but because it is the right thing to do and we all grow from it. To talk about leadership is to talk about courage, and I believe that my consistent actions have given me these traits.
2. How are creativity and innovation related?
Creativity and innovation both build on top of foundations. With innovation, you generally start with an existing product and work it, flipping it on its head, molding it, until you get something new from what you started with. Creativity builds on practice and information: layering paint on a canvas, mixing various media in a collage, layered ways of thinking. On top of that, these two things inform each other. You need a healthy dose of creativity to get an engaging end result with an innovative product, and if you do not invent new ways of looking at your goal, you will creatively flat line.
3. Why do companies need clarity and creativity?
Clarity is necessary for insight, and companies need this insight in order to distill what is essential and formulate strategies for their products. Companies also need clarity for the public, as customers need to be able to see the companies’ values, merits, and potentially any ills. Clarity helps the company build trust and a relationship with the customer. Creativity, on the other hand, is what draws these customers in. Novel products, alluring ads, and reinvented services all use creativity in order to attract the public.
4. You have 30 minutes of free time. What do you do with it?
In thirty minutes of free time, especially when taking a break from working on something, I will generally take time to think. I think about ways of tackling issues, different solutions, and coming up with new ideas. If I want to clear my head, I’ll most likely either be listening to my music or going on a quick bike ride.
5. What is one risky and bold goal in life you have? Or, if you could dedicate your life to solving one problem, what would it be?
Applying to a team full of artists, this perhaps may not seem very risky, but creating a brand for myself and choosing to focus on art is one of my biggest risks. While it is currently a hobby of mine, one has to consider that every minute I spend with sculpture or other artistic endeavors is time (and money) not spent on something else. Moreover, choosing to focus my career path on creative arts is far from the perceived comfort of a desk job: income will fluctuate depending on your market, and burnout can become a serious problem for makers and their income. Yet, even so, this remains as one of my bold goals in life: to make and sell artwork, living off of my brand.
6. Explain your creative process
My creative process initially begins with a lot of play. Especially starting in a new medium, I like to get a firm grasp on what I’m working with and the various ways I can transform it. It is also in this stage where I am paying attention to the color theory inherently present in the medium so that I may apply it later. After this experiential learning phase, I then create a fuzzy, vague idea of a goal and begin to work towards it. Having a broader vision allows the project to develop naturally and room to breathe when problems inevitably arise.
7. What is the best advice that you have been given?
One of my friends sent me a psychology video about how intelligence leads to avoidance. Those who were told they were smart chose only to do easy things, for failure isn’t what a smart person would do. This concept also had me toy with the idea of perfectionism and the fear of failure as well: this fear of ruining something leads to procrastination and abstaining from progress. Some of the best advice I constantly think back to is that anything worth doing is worth doing poorly, and it serves to remind me that it is okay to mess up; challenging things are going to have their pitfalls, so I should not beat myself up when things do not go as planned. Furthermore, any amount of time and effort spent on something is always better than none at all. Telling myself this helps me get over this hump of inaction, especially when considering the finite amount of willpower we possess.
8. What is your definition of creativity?
To me, creativity is this explosive and experimental, yet controlled and practiced force. It can be sort of like a chemist in a lab at times, testing certain variables and slowly working out which inputs give an unfavorable result, and which are surprising revelations that you might utilize and continue to tinker with. We tend to describe it as thinking outside of the box, but it is important to understand the amount of learning it takes to get to that point.
9. What 10 songs are on your favorite playlist right now?
Whispers parts one and two by Culprate are psychedelic and experimental rock pieces that blend and melt genres together seamlessly all while taking the listener on an adventure through soundscape. A few songs by Passion Pit are on repeat, as their pop synths are sickly sweet like sprinkles on candy. Mort Garson’s Mother Earth’s Plantasia has such soothing and mysterious electronic sounds, despite being designed to be played for your plants. Lastly, the album Gist Is by Adult Jazz is rather hard to describe, but its fantastic instrumentation has quickly made this one of my all time favorites.
10. How do you want people to remember you?
I would hope for people to remember me as understanding, collected, patient, and most importantly, as an open minded learner. I want to learn as much as I can about people’s experiences and opinions. However we may differ on how we view the world around us, listening to others gives us a chance to grow and see things from a different perspective. I hope that those around me know me for my interest in others.
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