Born and raised in Durham, NC, Ryan frequently finds himself bouncing between his many interests, including cartooning, mountaineering, climbing, and the occasional invention. Life is meant to be lived, and Ryan tries to do that at least once a day.

Ryan Who?

I graduated Tufts University with a degree in Engineering Psychology, and a strong focus on illustration and comics. Engineering Psychology, or Human Factors Engineering as it is commonly called, is an interdisciplinary study that approaches design and engineering from a human perspective. It lives at the intersection of psychology, ergonomics, design and engineering with the goal of creating intuitive and efficient designs with a focus on the whole user experience. It could be applied to the design of a backpack, the layout of a website, the programming of an autopilot system or the advertising and customer experience strategy for a retail chain.

Though I have a variety of very different interests, I find more often than not that they tend to converge on a single theme. From cartooning and illustrating I developed a keen interest in communicating with pictures alone. I was fortunate to take Neil Cohn’s class on visual language and the grammar and syntax of comics (see more of his theories and research on his website). I think there is a huge application for this kind of research to the human factors field, especially with regards to graphical interfaces and instructions in an increasingly globalized and language separated world. In 2010 I took a semester off from school to pursue mountain climbing, learn spanish and to meet interesting people in Patagonia. While there, I took to illustrating my adventures and the people I met as a near wordless comic. I am currently exploring publishing options of the 120 page final version, which is excerpted here on this site.

Currently, I have been interning as an Envisioner at Continuum (a Boston based design consultancy) which has been the most incredible opportunity to learn from some of the best practitioners of user centered design. My role in the design strategy department has been rich and varied — On Monday I may find myself interviewing users in the field, Tuesday organizing and brainstorming ideas onto post-it notes, Wednesday doing illustrations and graphics for our presentation and Thursday doing research to better understand emerging design fields and opportunities. Fridays are mostly spent by the candy drawer, but that’s neither here nor there. The dynamic nature of Continuum and the passion everyone there shares for solving real world design problems has truly impressed upon me the importance of nurturing and developing ideas that are based on real observations and that lead to actionable plans. I have seen the power of solid qualitative design research, insightful critical thinking and illuminating illustrations and storytelling, and am hungry for a career that will be full of the same.

When I’m not at work (really, you can’t honestly call being an Envisioner “work” in any traditional sense of the word) I really enjoy exploring and bringing various random ideas to life. I can usually scratch my exploring/adventure itch by heading to New Hampshire on the weekends, where I enjoy multipitch rock climbing and ice climbing (a hobby I have enjoyed sharing through VICEfest, an annual ice climbing festival that my climbing friends and I put on in Franconia, NH, viceaxe.com). Recently, the “making things” hobby has expressed itself as a bike made from entirely found parts, an ice climbing backpack, an ultralight tent/bivoiac sack and teal slacks for work. When making and doing overlap (like in a backpack), I really couldn’t be a happier camper.

Notable Accomplishments

  • 2008 Student Affairs National College Cartoonists Contest 1st place winner
  • Summited Aconcagua (22,841) via the False Polish route (self guided)
  • Teaching full credit Mountaineering class focusing on the history, skills and ethics.
  • Currently seeking a patent for the unique design of my ergonomic alpine climbing backpack
  • Illustrated 25+ t shirts, for a total print number of 1000+
  • Illustrated a book on earthen oven construction while in Argentina
  • Completely rebuilt a 1963 Austin Healy MkIII
  • Designed and helped install a green roof for Duke Hospital

Past Work

  • Continuum design consultancy, Envisioner Intern
  • VOLPE National Transportation Research Center, Human Factors Researcher
  • Consultant in graphic design, usability, user experience, interface design, illustration, manufacturing, soft materials prototyping (Roof For Two, Junctions, the Meeter, Green Link, Mike and Cody, and more)

Illustration Resume |     Resume with a focus on my past illustration work

HF and Illustration Portfolio |     Combined portfolio including product design, interface design and artwork samples

Get to know me a little better. Send me an email!

use the link in the upper right of this page to contact me