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Under Cover Artist: Ryan Lee Boultbee

7 July 19 interview: LeftLion

University of Nottingham graduate and Midlands-based artist Ryan Lee Boultbee tells us how he put together the nuts and bolts of this issue’s cover… 

Tell us a bit about yourself…
I’m trying to establish myself as a visual artist working across the Midlands and beyond. I was slightly lost and thought there was no better time to try and follow my passion, so, I am trying to make a living out of it. I like to describe it as a Tate or break scenario. Designing a LeftLion cover was a cracking opportunity and I couldn’t really think of a better way to get my work into every gallery and cultural hub in Nottingham at the same time…

What was the inspiration behind this month’s cover? 
It’s inspired by the fantastic work of Margaret Humphreys. Have a flick through the magazine, she has been interviewed as part of this issue. The cover is adorned with jelly babies, a stereotypical British baby themed sweet you can find exported all over the world. The childish and colourfully styled illustration with sinister undertones is a reference to the Home Children, the secretive child migration scheme.

How does it compare with some other projects you’ve worked on?
I’ve never created a magazine cover before, however, being a bit of a LeftLion fan I have seen the issues lurking in various corners around Nottingham. I designed this cover to pop, to catch your eye even if it's hidden away or been pushed to adorn the fire-exit. Most of the projects I have been involved in recently have been gallery-based and need a fair amount of organization. As bad as it sounds, it’s nice to participate in a project where I can just do my part and sod off!

Tell us about some projects you’ve worked on in the past…
I don’t really have that much of a creative past. I have been lucky over the last six months to have had exhibitions across the Midlands and to have been supported by charities such as the UK Young Artists. My first solo exhibition was at the start of this year in Nottingham’s Focus gallery – they rent out a wonderful toilet space if anyone is looking for something cheap. Every opportunity from that just kept getting bigger and bigger. As I write this, I’m prepping for a group exhibition titled Made/unmade that will be ongoing at the Quad in Derby until Sunday 29 September. 

What do you think about Nottingham’s creative scene?
I love it. There is always something going on. Almost too much – I end up missing so much stuff I wish I could attend or be a part of. We have so many amazing galleries that operate across a diverse range of the arts. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, have a search for the Nottingham Art Map.

What have you got planned for the future?
Good question. I’m gearing my practice towards supporting other grassroots and emerging artists. I’ve just got my hands on a studio in the high street of Newark-on-Trent through support from Axisweb. I’m going to use the space to run a series of projects aimed at re-enlivening the dying high street through the arts and various collaborations. If you have any ideas, would love to be involved, or are able to support the project please feel free to email [email protected] 

Have you got anything else to say to the readers of LeftLion?
Stop wasting your time reading about me. There are some way more interesting articles in this issue.

Ryan Lee Boultbee website

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