An interview with Ryan Kerrigan about his love for art, family and Phish

Ryan Kerrigan is a long time Phish goer and artist on the scene. Having been on tour for many years and seeing him and his work all over the lot, I caught up with him to get the scoop about his love for art, his family and Phish! Ryan is from Berkeley. California and has a great website for his art, check his Facebook page Here! Ryan is really talented and does an array of art, from prints, pins, stickers, clothing and cards to 60 second sketches.

Kelley Zilembo: How long have you been seeing Phish?

Ryan Kerrigan: July 18, 1991 was my first live Phish show.

KZ: How many shows have you seen?

RK: Before I got to 100 shows, I made the conscious decision to purposefully stop keeping track of how many notches were on my belt…I didn’t want to add any arbitrary significance to a particular show…but if I had to guess I’d say in the neighborhood of 300 shows.

KZ: What is your favorite year of Phish and why?

RK: 2013 because we still get to experience it live.

KZ: What has inspired you to be an artist?

RK: Saturday morning cartoons and baseball cards when I was young….as I sauntered into the college years I quickly understood that music would become (and really had always been) my greatest source of inspiration.

KZ: When did you start selling your Phish and music inspired art?

RK: Summer tour 1998 was the first time I shared my Phish inspired artwork, the ‘Technicolor Dreamcoat’ print.

Trey's Technicolor Dreamcoat
Trey’s Technicolor Dreamcoat

KZ: How did your signature happy fish come about?

RK: I had a teacher in grade school who created a project where we had to illustrate different words in the shape of what that word was (like banana, or football). I loved it and it always stuck with me, though I never really did anything with it. There were four shows in 2010 (Hartford, Utica, Amherst and Worcester) that I did posters for where I contained all the words (city, state, and date) within the contour of these big sleepy looking fishies.  My mother really dug them and said I should do a whole tour of them … so I did! And summer tour 2011 started what has become the happy fish series of posters and pins!

Worcester December 27 & 28, 2010

KZ: You have a variety of art that you are making, from 60 second drawings to baseball cards to posters to clothing to making pins; what is your favorite form of art and why?

RK: Whenever I attend a show, or any event really, I have a 4″x6″ sketchbook on me and a black micron pen … just black ink on paper … something about it makes me feel most content.

554848_453870151319395_1347171871_n60 Second Sketch- Charlotte, NC August 26, 2012


Happy Fish Leg 2, 2012

307302_529568517082891_1113599765_nParty at the Lamppost- 100% preshrunk cotton

KZ: Do you have any plans for expanding to other forms of art that you haven’t tackled yet? If so, is there anything you can share with us about your future plans?

RK: I designed an electrical box in downtown Berkeley!  It’s always fun to see my work end up in so many forms, but truly I’m in love with my marker/watercolor/pencil combo, as far as creation goes…but ya never know what will happen!

Ryan showing his daughter his art on the electrical box he did in Berkeley

KZ: What are your thoughts on the resurgence of lot art at Phish shows, especially now that we have Facebook and Twitter to promote art?

RK: It’s fantastic! There are so many remarkably talented people expressing themselves on tour, as well as an equal amount of art-lovers eager to support the artists.

KZ: You seem to have such a wonderful connection with your daughter, art, and music. How has fatherhood influenced your artistic style?

RK: Not so much the style, but in just about everything I draw, I feel I’m creating for her, kind of like keeping a journal. She’ll be able to look back and see what d’ah was doing when she was three. A greater responsibility perhaps? I’ve always taken pride in my work but with my daughter, everything feels like it has more purpose.

Hard at work with Dad!

KZ: Living in Berkeley, what Bay Area bands and causes have you worked with in the past?

RK: I have worked quite a bit with ALO, Tea Leaf Green, Hot Buttered Rum, California Honeydrops, The Bay Recorders Organization, The Earth Island Institute, High Sierra Music, and many more.

California Honeydrops- Summer Heat Tour 2012

KZ: Do you do any art for local bands or businesses? If so, who and what was your inspiration to work for them?

RK: All the time! I like to have a connection to the people I am working for, it’s fun to see your work around town too!

KZ: Do you ever find yourself facing artists-block (ala writers-block), when it comes to Phish?

RK: Never.

KZ: Do you have any plans of music festivals this summer that you plan on attending to sell your work?

RK: Most likely a good deal of tour! I’ll be at High Sierra Music Festival for the 13th time. I’ll be taking part in the annual Rock Poster Society’s show in San Francisco and there will most likely be a few other things popping up!


Keep your eye out for Ryan and his work throughout summer tour!

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