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ENJOY A BURGER & A PINT IN OUR BEER GARDEN!

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of what they do,” he says. We pass one of the posters for “Supper + Song” that features a golden beehive oozing honey with the Imogene + Willie emblem tucked within. As I study his creative space, I’m bombarded with tokens of Ryan's obsession with pop culture and all things nostalgic. “I'm a big collector—old arcade games, old Coke machines, old metal signs. I have a problem,” he admits. He’s been surrounding himself with these things since he was fifteen years old, and they have wedged themselves into every piece of his work. “People try to make things look vintage, but it looks fake—like it belongs at Walmart. I make it, and it looks like it was sitting at a flea market and you found it in the dirt,” he says, holding both of his hands up, grasping an invisible treasure. One of his dearest treasures is CocaCola—McDonald's Coke to be exact. All of a sudden, he becomes strangely serious. “If you really want to get down to it, there are three Cokes: Mexican Coke, McDonald's Coke, and regular Coke.” Leaning back in his chair, he continues,

“To me, McDonald's Coke is the best by far. I've said this since I was seven years old, and everyone I've ever met thinks I'm crazy.” But I don’t think he’s crazy. After years of unintentional research on the subject, McDonald’s Coke definitely stands out among the crowd. I never really gave a second thought as to why that is, though. I just drank it. Ryan tells me about the time he met a guy that worked for Coca-Cola. It was his job to drive around to every McDonald’s and recalibrate the soda machines, ensuring that every McDonald’s Coke tasted exactly the same. Aside from Ryan’s appreciation for good marketing and branding, perhaps this is the reason why he likes Mickey D's Coke so much. Like his passion for collecting, Ryan's interest in art started when he was just a young boy. Since his mom was a teacher, Ryan would often find himself with hours to kill as he waited around for her after school. So he started wandering into the art studio. It wasn’t long before he started taking art seriously. By the age of thirteen, he realized he could use his talent to make money. “I kinda got my start bootlegging,” he admits. His friends were in punk bands, and at their shows he would set up shop, selling his printed shirts for ten bucks apiece. “I was in the straight edge, hardcore scene, and I would come up with some stupid, straight edge shirt. I did one with Chewbacca that said, ‘Let the Wookiee win—Go vegan,’” he recalls.

Profile for Native

Native | February 2013 | Nashville, TN  

Featuring Nashville's Justin Townes Earle, Karoake Cab, Kangaroo Press, Poetry Sucks, Odessa Rose, The Stone Fox, No. 308, Chucklet and Hone...

Native | February 2013 | Nashville, TN  

Featuring Nashville's Justin Townes Earle, Karoake Cab, Kangaroo Press, Poetry Sucks, Odessa Rose, The Stone Fox, No. 308, Chucklet and Hone...