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Artist John Ryan Creates Signature Design for 2015 Atlanta Jazz Festival

Jazzman“We are proud to announce that the signature artwork for the 38th Annual Atlanta Jazz Festival is ‘Jazzman’ by artist John Ryan,” states Camille Russell Love, Executive Director of the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs. “The exuberant, whimsical image of a trumpet player is so evocative that you can practically hear the music flowing from his horn. It perfectly aligns with this year’s festival theme which is a ‘journey in jazz.’ The artwork transports you into a colorful world of improvisation, discovery and joy.”

John developed a love of art early on. His mother was an art teacher and encouraged her son to experiment with painting and drawing. “She gave me the tools and confidence that I needed to get started,” explains John. “Creating art is in my blood.”

After high school John had to decide between a scholarship to play lacrosse, or pursuing a degree in art. Again it was his Mom who persuaded him to go for art, suggesting he apply to the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design. He was accepted and the rest, as they say, is history. He thinks it was fate because he fell in love with his wife Joyce at school. An artist in her own rite, she is a renowned sculpture and jewelry designer.

Next the couple moved to St. Louis where John received his Masters in Graphic Design from Washington University, and opened an animation studio. During their 18 years in St. Louis the Ryans had their son, Lucas, who is also an artist.

In 1990 John’s animation studio was bought by Crawford Communications and shortly afterwards Crawford closed the St. Louis office and moved everything to their Atlanta location. After a few visits, the Ryans decided to relocate to Atlanta where John continued working in animation and design.

John started his current company, DAGNABIT! Animation Studio, in 2001. The studio’s work is known for originality, creativity and a wicked sense of humor. Clients have included Hallmark Entertainment, Delta Airlines, Disney, Coca Cola, Gulf Power and Black & Decker. Animation Magazine has recognized John’s talents four times with the Anicomm Award for Top Animated Commercial. He’s also earned numerous television awards including Tellys, Addys and Emmys.

John’s art marries drawing and graphic design. It’s a process that grew out of his early work at Rhode Island School of Design in the 1970’s. He was in a unique situation where artists were paired with programmers in art and computer classes. Starting his animation work by drawing on cells, he then used a computer to refine it. He is one of the original nine Painter Masters, employing Corel Painter as a component of his animation design and production. He still starts each project drawing images by hand using elk bristle brushes, before transferring them to a computer.

John Ryan and Mayor Kasim Reed at press conference - photo by Matt Alexandre“The way I work is really like playing jazz,” explains John. “No matter if I’m painting or doing animation, I start with brush work. That part is very organic, particularly if you are working with watercolor which can be unpredictable. It often has a mind of its own and you don’t know where it’s going until the colors and shapes reveal themselves. The surprise and discovery is part of the fun.”

For more information about John and DAGNABIT! visit their web site at

Sponsors for this year’s Atlanta Jazz Festival include Bank of America, PUBLIX, PNC Bank, Loews Atlanta Hotel, MARTA, Cantoni, The Coca-Cola Company and the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The 38th Annual Atlanta Jazz Festival is presented by the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs. The mission of the Atlanta Jazz Festival is to educate and entertain a diverse audience of jazz fans and to nurture the next generation of jazz musicians. The festival is partially supported by Atlanta Jazz Festival Inc, a 501(c)(3) cultural, non-profit. The festival includes 31 Days of Jazz beginning on May 1 and a huge festival weekend in Piedmont Park from May 22-24. Like AtlantaJazzFestivalon Facebook for all the latest news, and for more information visit the official web site at

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Bottom photo: from left to right is John Ryan with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and the 2015 Atlanta Jazz Festival poster. Photo by Matt Alexandre Photography.

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