It’s only Week 3,564 of The Quarantine, but some days it feels like it’s been more like 18,566 weeks, right? If this collective experience has taught us anything, it’s that we can find enjoyment, comfort, and delight in life’s minute details – like better understanding the maintenance cycles of our household appliances, chronicling the different styles of your neighborhood’s house numbers, and analyzing how frequently the guy across the street mows his lawn.
Chicago-based artist Ryan Duggan’s quarantine hobby is backyard birdwatching, and he’s designed a new shirt that pays homage to this rather unique period in The Quarantine Birder, which is available right now in the Mondo Apparel Collection.
The Quarantine Birder T-Shirt. Original artwork designed by Ryan Duggan. Printed by Impact Merchandising on Bella + Canvas 3001 White tee, available in unisex sizes XS-4XL. Polished with a Mondo brand hem tag. Expected to ship August 2020. Ships worldwide. $25.
Ryan's been active for over a decade, designing concert posters for Jenny Lewis, Sturgill Simpson, and Bob Mould, and creating original designs infused with (occasionally ironic) nostalgia and Americana. His most recent Mondo work was last month’s JAWS t-shirt “Farewell & Adieu”, and the original watercolor & gouache piece “Alan, deep in the enchanted forest.”
We wanted to get to know Ryan (and his bird friends) a little better, so here’s our five-question Q&A.
#1 ) Which bird species do you get the most amped up to spot in your backyard?
During the migratory period I was getting all kinds of interesting ones! I had a couple Ovenbirds that were around for a few weeks – I had never heard of an Ovenbird before Quarantine, but they’re little warblers with orange mohawks. I was also pretty psyched on the Orioles that came through.
#2) How are you staying creatively engaged in quarantine?
It’s been an adjustment but some aspects have been relatively unchanged. Most days I head into the studio/gallery I work out of (@paperhatchicago) with my partner (@saltybroadpress) and try to make use of my time. Concert poster work has obviously dried up for the foreseeable future which is a bummer for a multitude of reasons, but we’ve been making art prints, some of which have been reflections on current life (like the piece that’s going on this shirt)!
#3) From where do you draw your aesthetic inspiration?
I really love the visual aesthetic of mid-century America. The saturated colors and idyllic illustrations of that period are a huge source of inspiration but I try to pair that visual with a flawed or less-than-perfect setting (for example a defecating dog somewhere in the image).
#4) Is there one piece of advice you wished you'd received earlier in your artistic career?
The main takeaway I have from 14 years of making posters and artwork is to just do it however you can. Don’t wait for validation from a gallery or art scene – start your own gallery. Make things that you find entertaining. Some of my most popular pieces have been a silly idea that made me laugh and I decided to just make it a real thing.
#5) What would be your dream project (in a perfect world)?
Oh, that’s easy: I want an investor to mysteriously appear and hand me a mountain of money to design and build a miniature golf course. I’d close up the print shop tomorrow, haha.