When artist Dave Ryan paints portraits, he doesn’t use a typical canvas.
He prefers old albums.
"I paint pop art on recycled stuff,” he said.
He’s immortalized everyone from Clint Eastwood to Pee Wee Herman, using nothing more than handmade stencils, spray paint, and vinyl records.
His work is showcased and sold in a dozen stores, from Bremerton to Seattle.
But the art hasn’t just given Dave an income. A few years ago, it helped heal his broken body after a swimming accident on a road trip. He unwittingly dove into the shallow end of a swimming hole.
"I remember getting pulled out of the water and I was looking down at my feet, and I could wiggle my toe, so I thought that was good, and I went to make a fist and all I could do was barely move my fingers,” he said.
The fall had broken his neck. Emergency surgery fused his broken vertebrae, but he suffered a serious loss of his fine motor skills.
"The main thing was my hands,” Ryan said. “I lost 60% strength in my right hand and 40% in my left."
He could have given up on art.
Instead, he pursued it with more passion than ever before. It became a form of physical therapy.
"Finding my strength through just those little movement with the hands,” he said. "It wasn't what can't I do, but what can I do?"
After many months, Ryan regained almost all of his dexterity. And a year to the day after he broke his neck, he returned to the swimming hole and finished his trip.
All these years later, the injury that almost robbed Dave Ryan of the ability to create has helped him become the artist he was meant to be.
"It was a tough thing to go through, but it was one of the best things that ever happened to me,” Ryan said.
Check out more Dave Ryan Pop Art on his website.
He’ll also attend Rose City Comic Con on Sept. 10-11.
Copyright 2016 KING