The Vintage Anthropomorphic Portraiture of Ryan Berkley Brings an Imaginative World to Life
For nearly nine years, self-taught Portland artist Ryan Berkley has been accumulating a vast portfolio of vintage anthropomorphic portraiture, reminiscent of Aesop’s fables or the best of Roald Dahl and Wes Anderson seamlessly worked together through beautifully illustrated prints. Berkley first premiered these animalistic faces on his Etsy shop, Berkley Illustrated in 2007 to a receptive and almost immediately loyal fan base. Since the launch of this online shop, Ryan’s animal portraits have shown no sign of losing momentum. Ryan’s technique of turning the centuries old medium of classical portraiture into colorful, fun, ardent creations is to thank for this well deserved popularity.
Serious and sophisticated animals in profile proudly strut their best attire and their straightest poker-face. The longer you look, the more details you’ll notice about each character. In what appears to be zoological accuracy, Ryan has captured the biological details of the animals. But it is Ryan’s knack of creating personalities for these animals that make his work stand out. The portraits are jaunt and solemn but at the same time it’s hard not to remark on how just plain adorable these creations are.
Take the flamboyant cheetah – he appears to be a gentleman at a ball, or the panda – one could presume him to be a sommelier, or the dinosaur – on vacation in the tropics. It is great fun to admire the beautiful craftsmanship and fantastical stories about each creature. With each print, Berkley Illustrated even attaches a short story telling of its particular animal and their exciting lives, all written by Lucy Berkley, Ryan’s wife and powerhouse executive who is in charge of day-to-day operations.
This husband and wife duo has embraced the digital age by establishing a strong online presence and you can also catch them in person at numerous craft and art fairs around the country, such as the upcoming Renegade Craft Fair tour.