One of the most creative and innovative artists in the tattoo industry, Ryan ‘The Scientist’ Smith requires no introduction. Head honcho of The Kaos Theory Project and one of the busiest collaborators on the scene, Ryan earned the title of UK’s favorite tattoo artists at the 2017 UK’s Tattoo Industry Awards. It’s no surprise really!
Ryan has been winning the biggest accolades across the industry in many different style’s over the last few years. Regularly scooping best of show awards across the world, including events such as, the Number 1 expo. the London Tattoo Convention.
Since Ryan ‘The Scientist’ Smith’ burst onto center stage in 2013, his social following has grown to over 250,000 and his work has been shared around the world. We wanted to know a little more about what makes him tick, the forward thinking technological approach he’s taking, and just what the future holds for Ryan ‘The Scientist’ Smith’.
Behind the Scenes
Throughout his life, Ryan ‘The Scientist’ Smith has always been into all mediums of art, be that drawing, painting or creating scenery! An avid music lover, he worked as a DJ and music producer during his twenties, he even studied music production and sound engineering receiving a First Class Honors degree.
After graduation, Ryan was offered a job in the University as a lecturer of music production, however a long time dream was presented to him: the opportunity to learn tattooing, which was something he’s always wanted to do. He couldn’t turn it down, and jumped right at it.
The Making of An Artist
The ability of expression is a common characteristic of the talented artists we interview here at Inked Cartel and with Ryan ‘The Scientist’ Smith, this isn’t any different! With a passion to please and make others happy, Ryan finds himself happiest when he inspire others. He says “I like making people happy! I know first hand, as a tattoo collector of 22 years, how happy people can be when they get a new piece“.
His addiction to DJ’ing was fueled by the joy people felt from listening to his sets. This sentiment is how Ryan feels whenever he’s tattooing. He adds “except it’s every day now and not just at the weekends. Instead of a hazy nightclub remembrance, people have a lasting memory that they can look at everyday for the rest of they’re lives“.
“Also with tattooing I can push myself, I make goals and I go for them! Becoming a tattoo artist really has been the making of me as a person. I’ve grown, matured and pushed myself to do things I thought may not be possible. I set goals and not stopping until they’re achieved. For every goal that is gained more are made“.
The Kaos Theory Project
The Kaos Theory Project is a huge collaboration project, where six world class artists get together for a week long event, collaborating and fusing different styles together to create unique masterpieces. “Every day the artists are paired up with one client to work all day on creating a bespoke piece, then next day all the artists swaps pairs to have a new partner and a new client. This goes on through the week until all artists have had a chance to work together” explains Ryan.
Collaboration with Jay Freestyle
Doing plenty of collab work this past year, Ryan says his favorite was to work with Jay Freestyle. In his own words “We work so well together, we both like to think outside the box, we’re both fast artists so we can cover a lot of ground together on our sessions and we make the craziest stuff sometimes!” Ryan and Jay have won multiple trophies in the many conventions they collaborated together. It’s not hard to see why when you view the epic pieces they’ve created.
Collaboration with Jay Freestyle
One tough question to ask an artist is who they would like to collaborate with. Ryan told us his top 5 picks: Nikko Hurtado, Filip Leu, Ad Pancho, Joseph Haefs and Roman Abrego. He adds “I would love to see what we could create together“.
With a continually evolving style, his designs can be described as 3-D ornamental realism, though Ryan prefers to call it “Ornamental ‘Hennism’, a mixture of ornamental, henna, geometric and black work with realism facets within the pieces. It’s a very ornate work which pays close attention to structure, composition and flow”.
He’s gotten amazing responses to his work since he started tattooing. The most memorable was one by Nikko Hurtado “your work is insane, your line work is immaculate, and those jewels, wow“; Rich Pineda also said to he’s “an inspiration and one of the most creative artists he’s ever come across“, and Marco Manzo told Ryan to “stop what I’m doing because it’s just too good“. I bet you to hear words like these from some of your biggest ‘heroes’ can be quite humbling.
In today’s world of innovation, we ask ourselves how we can implement more technology into the tattooing market. You won’t believe this, but Ryan, alongside NR Studios, is bringing Virtual Reality into the industry. Are you asking yourself ‘how?’, yeah, us too. Here’s what Ryan had to say about this “I’m doing a lot of work bringing Virtual Reality into our industry alongside NR Studios. Together we’re creating virtual tours and experiences so people can get fully immersed into a tattooing situation or environment”.
“For example, this year at the London Tattoo Convention, we showcased the VR Headsets we built. The viewer was transported into our London studio, where they were able to walk around and view our gallery, which included amazing photography of Harris Nukem”. This is pretty wild! I’m picturing myself walking around the art gallery, and then checking out the tattoo artists working on custom pieces all via virtual reality? That’s freaking rad.
Ryan tells us they are also developing projection systems, to include full body mapping onto potential clients. Body scanning? Yeah, you read that right. The Scientist says “I use body scanning equipment so I can scan clients bodies and create realistic 3-D mapped body images, which I find helpful during the design process. We’re always trying to evolve and develop what we do. Keeping up and making use of modern technology is the way forward. If you can present what you do and make things more interesting for people to engage with your artwork and business, then why not make use of it?!” We always find it amazing when we see artist using new mediums and technology to move the entire industry forward, much respect to Ryan and NR Studio’s.
Who is Ryan ‘The Scientist’ Smith?
Are you asking yourself if Ryan ‘The Scientist’ Smith is a superhero? Because we are! In fact, we literally asked him which superhero he would be and why. Here’s what he had to say “I’d probably be a speedster so I can get more work done. And create bigger, better pieces. There’s never enough hours in the day haha!” No argument there bro.
Dream project? Oh he’s got them “to create a tattoo documentary/show that airs on TV. Something which is not only informative, but interesting. A program which paints the tattoo industry in a good light, instead of using below par artists and relying on drama to make it interesting. A show that displays how good tattoos are and not how bad they can be. We need to be promoting our art industry in a positive way to attract new collectors, not putting them off”. Couldn’t agree more there.
Ryan, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? “Regardless of anybodies’s tattoo technicality, a poor design will always be a poor design“.
The Scientist is based at the NR Studios in the UK and is the lead artist at their Exeter location. Sometimes, he also works from the London location where he hosts the Kaos Theory Project. Every now and again, he will do a guest spot at the NR Studios in Cheltenham. He tattoos with Cheyenne Tattoo Equipment which to him, are the best machines and needles on the market. The craftsmanship on the needles are second to none.
A Big Thanks
We’re so pleased and honored to have met and interviewed Ryan ‘The Scientist’ Smith. He’s a humble human, whose innovation and creativity will take him far. Hopefully not too far where I can’t get a tattoo by him : )
Check out the amazing work of Ryan ‘The Scientist’ Smith below and don’t forget to follow him on social media!