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Ryan Foerster, Interdisciplinary

Ryan Foerster is photographer. Born in Newmarket, Ontario, he currently lives and works in New York, USA. Ryan creates abstract photographs by embracing chance and the transformative effects of time, weather, and other organic processes. His work has appeared in various exhibits in Toronto, New York, Miami, Paris, Stockholm and Melbourne. We caught up with Ryan at Art Toronto’s #ArtsyTakeover to talk about growing up in the suburbs as a creative process.


Growing up in Newmarket started everything. We went to punk shows at the youth centre and made merch to sell. My friends and I had a table with patches and t-shirts. At some point, the centre got tight about letting bags in. You had to check everything at the front. Out of protest, we filled up huge luggage bags with garbage and just left it there. We knew the guy who worked at the centre and he was like, ‘What the fuck is he matter with you guys? You check all that wet garbage and never picked it up.’

We made so many zines. We knew someone who worked at Business Depot and we’d get free copies. The zines were about stuff we found in the dumpster behind Business Depot–fax machines, cordless phones. We would also interview our friend’s band Excretion. That was the entire content.

Then we got into spray painting and used to spray paint ‘Val Kilmer.‘ We killed Newmarket with ‘Val Kilmers.’ In November, I’m putting together a show in New York and I’m going to bust out all these Val Kilmer photos. We have photos of someone spray painting a Winnebago camper in a Loblaws parking lot. It was bad. I didn’t do it, I took the photo.

Val Kilmer started as few of us but I did it all in Toronto and thenI did a bit in New York. Newmarket was covered in it. We wanted to get into graffiti but then it was such a serious thing and we were way more into fucking around and joking with things. It was also hilarious because we really liked Willow.


Not much as changed, which is hilarious. I’ve worked lots of other jobs but I always got bored and made stuff. There were times when I thought, ‘You should just get a job and stop making art,’ but then I would do a project anyway. I took photographs to document my friends. It was pretty straight-forward. We’d go out to take photos. We wanted to remember things and record it.

When I moved to New York, I worked at a darkroom co-op. I had no money and people gave me old film, old paper and old chemicals. When I used it, I’d get dots on the paper or the film would corrode. I used everything leftover. Photography with insane production value really grossed me out. I didn’t want to need thousands of dollars to make art. It was more satisfying to make art out of nothing, out of things other people didn’t want.

When I was a kid, we didn’t have video games. My parents told us to go outside and do shit. At the time, I probably wanted to watch more TV but now I don’t. I don’t want to sit on a computer all day. For my Artsy booth at Art Toronto, I made these benches outside and it was raining, which kind of sucked because I was wet. The next day, it was sunny. It felt good to be outside, in the streets, making some benches. What the fuck else can you ask for?

–Ryan Foerster, as told to Studio Beat

Photos by Alex John Beck for Artsy

Visit Ryan Foerster’s Artsy profile here.

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