In the nine years since Ryan Callis (’02) graduated from Biola University, the Long Beach, Calif.-based painter has had his work shown in galleries across the country and featured in publications like Artweek, OC Weekly and the Los Angeles Times, where he was included in the article “45 Painters Under 45” in 2007. Callis — who received his MFA from Claremont Graduate University in 2007 — has also been the studio assistant of actor Jim Carrey, and recently launched a canvas shop in Seal Beach. He recently shared some of his story — and art — with Biola Magazine.

I graduated with my B.S. in Art Therapy in 2002. Biola was a good place for me to live in a college bubble and focus on work. My friends that went to other schools didn’t have the same experience as they either commuted to school, or got wrapped up in the city where the school was located, where at Biola you live on campus in urban sprawl so you are stranded with good friends, and your schoolwork.

Painting chose me at a young age. I was always interested in art as it is one of the few things about the physical world that makes sense in multiple ways.

My painting “style” changes with whatever project I am working on. I would say overall my style is a “make do” style, as I think one of my favorite aspects of art-making is taking disparate elements and turning those into a new combination. So I don’t get stuck on a certain brand of paint, or a certain procedure of painting. I make it a game.

I have been very fortunate to have had a lot of exposure and have had work shown nationally and abroad. I have had gallery representation, and played that whole art world game, but recently quit my gallery (Taylor De Cordoba in Culver City) and decided I’m bored with those soulless shenanigans.

My favorite show was one that I did last year for my friend Amanda up in Idaho at Northwest Nazarene University, where she got a great group of her college students to help me make the work for the show on the gallery walls for a week leading up to the opening. It was a blast.

Kids, kids, kids, and our business occupy my time these days. My new project is my shop in Seal Beach which will be a beacon of hope and good vibes in an otherwise terribly dull world.

Canvas Shop is our new undertaking. There is a history of artists opening shops as an art project so we thought we would give it a try. Like a giant installation. We do custom canvas (boat covers, patio covers, etc.) and classes, and retail, events, art, etc. It’s a whole thing.

I have designed album covers, T-shirt design and posters. I love doing “design.” It’s way more fun than making boring, cerebral paintings. But mostly I insist on making boring cerebral paintings as it allows me plenty of time to be alone with my thoughts.

Jim Carrey has been making art since he was 10, and he’s obsessed with it. I am his studio assistant.

I’ve also taught, done a lot of gallery and museum work, owned a gallery in Los Angeles for a while, and made a lot of art. It’s been fun.

I live in a small town, surf almost every day, go to my shop and make things out of canvas, sail, paint, have great community, and go to a great small church. My life is made up of work, work, work, but it’s a blast as I’ve been blessed with a commitment to make my life mine and make my work count. Each activity leads to the next thing, and God is always winking on my wife and I, and it has been really fun. Hard work, but fun.