Sunday, September 16, 2007

Superstar Draughtsman

THE street artist behind the cover for Scots rockers The View's bestselling album has a new sideline - flogging shoes to rock stars.

Top chart acts are rushing to order trainers specially inked by former graffiti artist Ryan McPhail.

Clients include Lily Allen, Spice Girl Mel C and indie rockers Dirty Pretty Things.

The 19-year-old's talent was given a global audience when used on the covers of The View's album Hat's Off To The Buskers.

He grew up with the band - singer Kyle Falconer, guitarist Pete Reilly, bassist Kieran Webster and drummer Steve Morrison - in Dundee.

He accompanied them on the road as they shot to fame with tracks such as Superstar Tradesmen, Wasted Little DJs and Same Jeans.

And Ryan - who was once fined for tagging walls in his home city's Hilltown and Dryburgh areas - is thrilled he is now making as much of a mark as his old pals.

He said: "When I was growing up my only artistic outlet was graffiti.

"I'd get into big trouble for tagging walls, and was even fined £100 on one occasion.

"Now I realise there are other ways to express my art and this time I'm getting paid for it.

"The guys in Dirty Pretty Things and Lily Allen love my shoes, which are individual works of art, and I'm busy working on a pair for Lily now.

"Mel C was fascinated by my artwork and my tattoos. I'm also busy with a range of T-shirts.

"I'd describe the designs as real 'street' and the response has been phenomenal."

Ryan did not go to college or art school because it was "too stifling" but found a positive outlet touring with The View.

He now works from Dundee's indie studio The Doghouse.

He said: "I grew up with the guys in The View and when they started the band I went with them.

"It was an absolute blast and in-between gigs I'd sit and draw.

"The guys really believed in my art and they used it for all their releases.

"They've supported me and encouraged me and now others are getting into it too.

Touring with the band allowed me to meet a lot of other musicians, such as Pete Doherty, Mel C, Lily Allen, Dirty Pretty Things and The Pigeon Detectives. It's opened up a whole new world for me."

Ryan was arrested last year in Birmingham while hanging out with troubled Babyshambles singer Doherty.

The rocker was held on suspicion of stealing a car and being in possession of drugs. He and Ryan were cleared.

Ryan said: "Pete gets picked on because of who he is. But I still got into trouble from my mum."

Last night, Richie Cumming, Educational Co-ordinator for Dundee Contemporary Arts Centre, praised Ryan's work.

He said: "While most people don't understand or appreciate graffiti because it can be destructive, some of it does have a strong social message and artistic merit.

"Man has scribbled on walls going back to the stone age. It's refreshing to see Ryan pursuing this as a positive career and we wish him success."

Ryan's shoes and clothes cost between £30 and £100 and you can see his work on his website,

'The guys in Dirty Pretty Things, Lily Allen and Mel C all love the artwork on my shoes' Ryan McPhail

Sunday Mail, 16th September 2007

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