Born in the small village of Chimayo in Northern New Mexico, Ryan was raised in a family in which almost everyone is an artist. He spent much of his youth helping on his family’s farm, as well as watching his father create sculpture and painting, and his mother draw and play piano. This immersion into the aesthetic world allowed Ryan to develop a sense of creativity, innovation, and (adventure) which would later inform his approach to jewelry design and craft.
When he was a young teen, Ryan spent a year living in Hawaii, where he (spent time) with his aunt Gayle Bright, a talented sculptor and jewelry designer. Seeing the skill and care with which she made her art inspired him, and he began to cultivate a love and appreciation of jewelry making which would lead him to his life work. Upon returning home to New Mexico, just after his 16th birthday, Ryan secured an apprenticeship at a local jeweler’s studio. There, driven by the potential of the craft, Ryan would stay after hours, expanding upon the foundations he’d already gained. During this time of experimentation, virtually every method that he developed on his own was improvised- born of a youthful desire to innovate and expand the limits of his art.
By the age of 19, Ryan was hired by one of Santa Fe’s most talented local jewelers, Mario Chavez. In this environment, the young artist was exposed to an expanded array of complex tools and techniques. This proved invaluable to his burgeoning style and ability. Serendipitously, Ryan also was able to travel through Europe that same year, returning profoundly influenced by the art and architecture that he’d seen. He saw a connection to his aesthetic, and this helped him codify his vision even further.
Ryan’s reputation grew as one of the finest jewelers in Santa Fe. Shortly, he opened his own studio gallery on the famous Canyon Road, and continued to establish his presence internationally. He soon began winning awards for his pieces such as the Best of Show for the NMJA awards. Also during that time, Ryan met the only person he had ever taken as an apprentice- his future wife, jeweler Robin Waynee. The two would both go on to become celebrated jewelers.
In 2010, Ryan realized his career-long goal of winning the AGTA Spectrum Award, considered to be the most prestigious honor a North American jeweler can receive. In 2011, he won yet again, and in 2012 he one once more. In 2013, Ryan took the Grand Prize in the Saul Bell International Design Awards, making him one of a rare handful of jewelers to ever win the jewelry industry’s top two design awards. After achieving Grand Prize, he decided to accept the honor of being a judge for the Saul Bell Awards the following year. Also in 2014 Ryan won the MJSA Vision Award (another of the top North American jewelry awards), and this year has already won the AGTA Spectrum Award for 2015.