When They Were Kids: Ryan Berkley


It’s new feature time, folks!  This one is a good one too…if I do say so myself. I’ve asked some of your (and my) favorite indie artists/designers/crafters to share what they were like as kids. Maybe it’s the history major in me or the museum curatorial experience  coming out, but I love the stories behind the artists.  Were they always creative, when did they grow up, did they want to be an artist when they grew up???

This new feature will appear periodically and I will share a ‘then’ & ‘now’ picture as well as a short interview with questions about what they were like as kids.

Ryan Berkley of Berkley Illustration is the first artist to participate.  Ryan is probably best know for his animal portraits, but he does other stuff as well. See more in his shop and on his blog, both of which he runs with his wife Lucy. Plus,  if you are in LA, visit him at the Renegade Craft Fair this weekend, July 11th & 12th!


Ryan Berkley won a drawing contest back in his elementary school days!

1.  Did you have an imaginary friend? Was he named Kenny? 😉

– No, I never did. And I don’t think I knew anyone who did growing up, either.

2. What was popular on TV when you were a kid and did you watch?

– He-man, G.I. Joe, Thundercats, Transformers, Go-bots, Silverhawks, Tiger Sharks. Back when Saturday cartoons used to be important.

3. Were you a good student in school or a little rebel?

– I was always staying out of trouble and I was a great student, but as I got older my grades got a little worse.

4. Were you an artsy-craftsy kid? if so, what types of things did you enjoy?

– I think I just drew all the time. On anything with a paper surface. Mom was very encouraging.

5. What have you learned as an adult that you wish you knew as a kid?

– Eating meat is horrible.

6. Were you a comic book reader and if so, what did you read?

– Yes, I was. I remember reading random titles as a kid, but when I got into them hot and heavy in junior high, I was really into the Punisher.

7. Share one of the best things about your childhood.

– I’d say moving out of grimy, scary North Hollywood into a mountain town when I was 8 and just playing in the woods close to my house. Fresh air. Wild animals. Swimming holes. Getting grass stains and red volcanic dirt in my clothes. Playing with my best friends everyday- my brother and my dog Maxie.

8. What are you up to now?

– Nowadays, I guess I’ve become a pretty-well known artist on Etsy.com, drawing animals pretending to be humans. I’m also keeping busy with editorial work, participating in traveling art/craft sales, and gallery shows.



  1. Love this! Berkley Illustration is my favourite Etsy shop. I buy way too many of his animal portraits! I can’t wait to see them at Renegade SF!

  2. Ryan Berkley is an absolute legend! I am already a proud owner of his work and am looking forward to adding to it! Thanks for the interview – it’s great!

  3. Great new feature — I especially love it as I too am fascinated with the question of where/when/why when looking at art and the artist!

  4. I LOVE this new feature and Ryan Berkley’s work! I have 4 of his animal portraits in my hallway. I love the stories he writes on the back. Just awesome.

  5. Yeah! Jen, this feature is awesome, and so is Ryan…I just hung three of his bird portraits in my dining room yesterday.

Comments are closed.