Ryan Jude Novelline Is A Fearless Fashion Designer Who Transforms Trash Into Treasure

 This interview was originally published by The Huffington Post on 4/3/2017. An excerpt is reposted here with permission.

By: Christine Henseler, Contributor

Co-authored with Dr. Yasmine Van Wilt, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Mellon Fellow at Union College, NY, Kobalt/AWAL singer-songwriter, dramatist, academic, and contributor to Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global.

This is the fifth of a series of interviews with extraordinary people who are working in partnership with or using their skills and training as artists and humanists to improve their communities, challenge assumptions, and advance our understanding of the human condition.

Ryan Jude Novelline is a Boston-based contemporary artist whose experience includes work for Amazon, Sony, Universal, Diane Von Furstenberg, GAP, & Walt Disney Imagineering, amongst others. His work has been recognized domestically and internationally by the Huffington Post, New York Magazine, Fashion Police, Yahoo News, Asian Geographic, and a host of others. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Illustration from Rhode Island School of Design.

Artist, Ryan Jude Novelline, model, Emily Grondine, and painting by Dennis Michael Jones


CH: Your work is so whimsical and imaginative! Can you talk about your creative process?

Whenever I am looking for a new pair of shoes or a chair or a lamp or a doll, and I cannot quite find what I want, or when the piece that I envision doesn’t yet exist, I make it myself. I am also a romantic at heart and believe in the magic of art. In this chaotic and hurried world, I want to think that there is still a place for dreamers to illuminate the stars. Fairy tales have also always been a huge inspiration to me, and I love blurring the boundary between fantasy and reality. I also enjoy reviving antiques with character. I briefly made a living restoring and reselling vintage dolls on eBay. It was remarkable restoring or recreating a dusty, unwanted object into a striking and beautiful heirloom. There is a power in that transformation.

CH: What does being an artist mean to you? Has your artistic vision changed over the years?

I speak with honesty and integrity through my work; this aspiration or vision has not changed. I have a colorful and sensitive voice that is also unique, bold, and worthwhile. Against all of the odds, I think daring people stand out and inspire fearlessness in others. If my art can impact others like that, then I will feel fulfilled. When I release new work out into the void like a message in a bottle, what happens to it afterwards is beyond my control. That is thrilling in itself. Anything can happen.

“ZAM!” paper dress made entirely out of the pages of recycled comic books for actress, Maisie Williams


CH: I love your reference to the impact of daring and fearless people. I think this bold confidence you reference really transpires through your work.

I believe the fearlessness in my own work comes from tremendous self-awareness. I was raised in such a way that I know who I am. When I express myself, I feel empowered. I know what I want to say. And I use my medium to say it. That gives me the freedom to operate without the fear of criticism or judgment.

My mom always let me choose the Barbie over the Hotwheel at McDonalds. It may sounds silly in this decade, but it meant everything to me that she was strong enough to do that in the early nineties. I did not know then how significant her openness was to forming my sense of self and identity. I am so grateful to her for allowing me the freedom to choose. You know, the fact that I played with dolls as a child embarrassed me as a teenager. So those Barbies collected dust in storage for years while I worked on my self-esteem and identity. In retrospect, of course I can see that my fascination and love for fashion dolls became the vital link between my innate childhood interests and my adult pursuit of fashion design. But I had to undergo a lot of pain and struggle before I could stand behind one of my gowns and say, “I made this!”

When people lack self-awareness and are unsure of what they want to say, they make art with trepidation. And you cannot make art cautiously. There are too many people already screaming in the world. We can’t afford any room for timid art.

Jump over to The Huffington Post for the full interview.

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