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Beach Meets: Ruan Van Vliet

Ruan Van Vliet’s another (after Fuchsia Macaree, who we Beach Met a few weeks back) member of Ireland’s really exciting, burgeoning illustration scene, fuelled by grads of NCAD – under the tutelage of another Beach fave, HYT Studio. Ruan’s work is colouful, loose, and stacked full of humour. We popped by his studio, on the banks of the Liffey (which he shares with Fuchsia, two birds, one stone ;)) , to chat snacks in Dublin, inspiration, and sweeping up Xmas trees.
We’re working with Ruan, and It’s Bigger, at the opening of Vans’ new store in Dublin on the 16th Feb. There’ll be a selection of artworks designed by him applied to pins and patches, which you’ll be able to use to customise pieces bought in store! 
Hey Ruan! What are you up to today?
Hello Beach. I’ve just been sweeping up bits of Christmas tree since getting home but before that I was in my studio where I think I might’ve finished making something, a print of some sort, it remains to be seen. 

Whereabouts is your studio? 

My studio is in the dead centre of Dublin city above a BBQ restaurant in a building rumoured to be owned by a famous musician. I like to imagine them checking their online banking before bed to make sure I’ve paid my rent.
I’m sharing it with fellow illustrator Fuchsia MacAree, costume designer Saileóg O’Halloran, photographer Cáit Fahey and designer Conor Lumsden. We were all pals before moving in together and they’re all honestly the best at what they do, I’m lucky to be around them.   

How’s Dublin treating you? Give us your top 5 spots for snacks?

Dublin’s not really treating anyone right but I won’t let that derail this opportunity to talk snacks. Here’s five I eat on a regular basis. 
  • El Grito – There’s nineteen thousand Burrito places in Dublin but this is the only one doing it right.
  • The Bakery – You can get the best sandwich of your life here but there’s a challenge. They keep their deli hidden, no ingredients in sight. All you can see is bread. The panic it provokes can lead amateurs to make bad decisions but if you are well rehearsed and prepared to keep it simple you can walk out with a ham, cheese and coleslaw sandwich that tastes as pure and good as ice cold water from a spring. It’s elemental.
  •  J. O’Connell’s – Guinness is a snack.
  • Brother Hubbard – I go here once a week to get their veggie soup and a bottle of green juice and I believe it offsets all the rubbish I eat.
  • Passion 4 Food/Zaytoon – An age-old conflict, where do you buy your kebabs, Passion or Zaytoon’s? I recently tried both in the space of 8 hours and still can’t decide so I guess I must try again. 

There’s a great illustration scene over there; whose work are you digging?

I met lots of great people through the Good Times News Team, set up by Steve McCarthy. Each week he’d gather a bunch of us together in his studio at 8am and we’d read the papers, drink coffee, eat pastries and draw the news. Rob Mirolo, Holly Pereria, Izzy Rose Grange, Conor Nolan, Mick Minogue, Francesca Saunders, all big time jammers. Then there’s the UsFolk gang up in Belfast. The godfather Fuchsia MacAree, Ross Carvill, John Slade, Stephen Maurice Graham, Eimhin McNamara, Ben Hickey, Jim Fitzpatrick. Bono’s an Illustrator.

What’s your go-to in the studio for inspiration?  

I’m lucky to work beside a window and even luckier that there’s a river outside that window. It’s a good thing to look at when you’re thinking of ideas or trying to not think about thinking of ideas.

Talk us through your books…

Well, it’s a shared bookshelf, I tried to bunch mine together and padded it out with a couple of Conor’s, a couple of Fuchsia’s. While rearranging them it dawned on me that an entire shelf was being held up by one big book (the 1968/69 Graphis Annual, not pictured), before I knew it I was holding up a shelf holding up 20 or so big Art books with one hand while rapidly emptying said shelf with the other. All in all, a very stressful ordeal just to get a fairly inconsequential photo. 

Thanks, Ruan. Have a nice day!

If you’d like to see more of Ruan’s work, you can check him out here.