Jump into this super-detailed mini art by Ryan Thomas Monahan, and get a taco while you’re there!
Believe it or not, lots and lots of people like things small. Meet Ryan Thomas Monahan, who goes by @what_thehell on Instagram, an outstanding creator of mini art working in Chicagoland, where Crixeo is based. A local boy.
Ryan originally began creating his highly detailed mini art scenes — grimy back alleyways and bodegas — because he wanted them on his own walls. Now he’s surprised to have so many fans and customers who enjoy the pieces as well.
We dropped by his studio and asked Ryan about his inspirations, creative process, hidden references in his work and more.
In a video interview, Ryan tells us about how he begins every mini art piece. He says he always starts with a box and asks himself what fits inside. He then layers and weathers his pieces. After using tools to create divots and details, he then paints the mini art, bringing the weathering effects to life.
Ryan typically creates urban scenes, but he’s contemplated branching out into fantasy scenes, like what you’d find in Lord of the Rings. He says he’s inspired by practical models in film, such as the Star Wars ships, and he’s especially intrigued by the “Bigatures” created by Weta Workshop, as well as the White House model design in Independence Day.
Ryan reveals some of the secret references hidden within his miniatures, including nods to Shepard Fairey, the creator of OBEY posters. He also discloses which of his pieces are his personal favorites and which one was the hardest to release to a buyer.
While Ryan’s work appeals primarily to viewers’ sense of sight, he’s thought about extending the reach of his work to more senses. For example, he’s considered adding noise features, such as a siren, to his mini art pieces. Perhaps his fans and customers should listen up for further developments.
Recently Ryan’s been working on making even smaller pieces of mini art with the same amount of intricate detail. At the time of our video interview, he was wrapping up work on an amazing newsstand. Unlike many of his pieces, it’s not in a frame, so you can look at it from all angles.
If you love mini art, you will love the man, the legend, Ryan Thomas Monahan. Check out the interview.