I LOVE YOU WINNIPEG
Artist Ryan Klatt painted Winnipeg with I Love You and spread the love coast to coast.

 
 

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INTERVIEW WITH RYAN KLATT


Artist's Statement by Ryan Klatt (2006)

My I Love You project is an art and text based public service. I install signs and write three simple words--"I LOVE YOU"--on public surfaces across North America. I have discovered love through my exploration of life's meaning. Love is the nature of the universe. I strive to create a positive shift in our interconnected group consciousness ... towards a loving environment.


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Poet Hugh Thomas, visiting family in Winnipeg, was first to report Ryan Klatt's work there. Hugh saw two or three ILYs on a bridge and thought there might be more. In 2006, Ryan heard me talking about the Toronto I Love You graf on CBC Radio and emailed.

In 2006, I met Ryan in person when he traveled to deliver art for Paint The Town Read, a show of text-based street art I curated as part of The Scream Literary Festival. He contributed three large beautiful photographs, a series of boards painted "I LOVE YOU," and infectious cheer. He even braved quivering ladders (too rickety for my nerves) to help hang the show.

During his visit to Toronto, Ryan installed "I LOVE YOU" boards around the city. We saw one nailed to a pole in Kensington Market. After some folks from the show's venue saw the same sign, they removed it and brought it back to the show. These well-meaning people thought that it had been stolen!

In January of 2008, I asked Ryan a few questions about his work. Excerpts from this interview can be found in New York street art magazine Overspray's forthcoming issue about love ("Street Heart").



SHARON HARRIS: How did you approach the series of ILY's? Did you paint one, like it, and continue? Or was it set out in your mind as a series?


RYAN KLATT: I saw the importance of the words "I LOVE YOU" while overlooking the ocean from a high cliff in St. John's Newfoundland. It was the concept that drew me in, knowing that people need to feel loved and be told that they are loved. I had been searching for years for the right thing to say in the public art context, while writing things that weren't totally satisfying. I just knew that the streets were a great place for art and concepts.



Any idea how many you wrote? Did the repetition affect you in any way? If yes, how?


Maybe a thousand, more or less, From Newfoundland, where I started, all across Canada coast to coast, and throughout some cities in north-central, and north-eastern America. Oh ya, and a bit in Alaska. The repetition meant that more people saw it and that people saw it many times throughout their days. I heard that people felt there was love in the air and in the streets when they saw them all over the place. I think that if it occurred in singularity, people might think that it was a personal message to someone in particular, as opposed an art piece promoting a loving environment.



Why, "I love you"?


I think that people are searching for purpose in their lives, and in loads of cases, that purpose is to be loved. I feel the work I do with the words "I LOVE YOU" lets the viewers know that someone out there is loving them. Maybe they create the love within themselves, by thinking of someone loving them when the read the text. I hope that these positive and optimistic words thrown out on the streets can play even a small role in creating a positive shift in our group consciousness. Also I think that positive graffiti subverts the general public's stereotypes that graffiti is bad, and a societal problem.



Do you do any other street art? And/Or was the ILY series something that made sense in that media, and you're expressing yourself in different media now?


I work in a plethora of different media, but I mostly focus on the "I LOVE YOU" theme when I work on the streets. I used to write directly on walls and various public surfaces, but these days I make paintings on boards that I cut out in different shapes, that include the words "I LOVE YOU." I screw these paintings/signs up, in back alleys, forests, highways, parking lots, anywhere public. I don't want people to feel like I am vandalizing of damaging their stuff. I don't want to get in trouble. I want to create positive vibes...I want to persuade the public to accept public art, and to evoke thought about the ideas in the art.



When did you start painting the ILY's?


It all started when I was hitch-hiking across Canada in the summer of 2005. I am still actively working on the "I LOVE YOU" series.



How did you choose the sites?


I install the work, as a component in the composition of the landscape. I try to choose a variety of sites. Some sites are chosen because they will be seen by many. Others are more obscure, where I hope someone can discover them and have it feel like a special experience. Some, I install with the intention of longevity, where they would be a pain in the ass to remove.



What do you think of the response to your work?


I am totally honoured by the response. I have overheard people talking about the work, saying that they feel good every time they see one on their way to work, for example. People have told me that my work really brightens their day, or shifted their mood during hard times.



Is there anything else you'd like to say?


I just want to say that I feel like public places are great venues for art, and the dialogue of the people.



For more of Ryan's work, please visit Klatt Gallery. Additional graffiti images can be viewed here, here, and here.