Quitting 9 to 5 with Ryan Duggan

duggan_filmstill_winterbeachprod-2Photo credits: Winter Beach Productions

Printmakers, quit your day jobs and join the ranks of self-employed artists including Chicago’s own Ryan Duggan. Specializing in gig posters and head of Drug Factory Press, Duggan’s work caught my eye due to his somewhat minimalistic and cleverly hand-drawn approach to the all too technical world of graphic design. Having quit his day job nine months ago to enter the wild world of self-employment, Duggan is floating along just fine while kicking off his “Print of the Week” series this past January.

“Once you start doing what you love for a living, you begin to realize how easy it is to have a job,” said Duggan. “There were days when I would sit in front of the computer and do nothing, and then I’d go home and get paid. Now, if I’m not working I’m not getting paid. I was the senior graphic designer laying out magazines, and I’d be doing concert posters on the side. Over time I was working every weekend and most nights on the posters, and before I knew it I needed to choose between my day job and making posters. Eventually I was offered a bunch of poster work and was unable to do it with my day job.”


Having entered the printmaking world out of necessity, Duggan began producing posters as a result of the interplay of music and print. “I’ve always played music and have been in bands which is how I got into making band posters. Either I was living with a band member or I needed gig posters for a show. It seems that there are two schools of people who make posters; there are the people who are graphic designers and the people who do it out of necessity,” added Duggan.


Launching his “Print of the Week” project, expected to continue for a whole year, Duggan explores editioning fine art prints debuting a new piece each week. “I’m doing a fixed edition of 15 prints and it’s nice to have something where I decide what colors and how complex the print will be,” explained Duggan. “I came up mostly doing gig posters and album art, but over time you start to make prints out of the art from posters without the band names. From a fine art perspective, screenprinting is like the ugly stepchild of the printmaking world. I did some formal printmaking when I was in college, but without the facilities there’s no way you can keep doing it. Screenprinting is very much a people’s art to be able to produce cheaply and to spread a message. I began making stuff that people would tape to a record store window, but in the fine art world you might pay hundreds of dollars for a print. There are a lot of aspects that go into pricing a print, but realistically you have to figure out how much people are willing to pay for a piece of paper.”

For more information and more visual art, visit www.ryanduggan.com





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2 Responses to “Quitting 9 to 5 with Ryan Duggan”

  1. Anne Forte says:

    I loved yor article, but don’t agree that screen printing is the ‘ugly stepchild of printmaking’. Many artists have utilised its fantastic qualities, which include layers of colour and flexibility. It can have a painterly effect, or a photographic one, plus can be used very simply or with great complexity. There is practically no end to the ways in which you can experiment , using stencils, photo-emulsion, MMR, water-based inks, oil- based inks, etc.

  2. Julia says:

    I agree, screen printing is incredibly flexible as far as an artistic medium goes. I think what Ryan meant is that screen printing can also be shoved into the “craft” realm because it’s such a DIY process, thus it possibly loses some of its merit as a medium in the fine art world. We sure are glad you see otherwise.