There’s an abundance of self proclaimed creatives out there, but only a handful are actually worthy of such a title. Meet Baltimore native, Ryan Antar, one of the few genuine creatives with an admirable artistic caliber. Antar dabbles in everything from photography, graphics, design and more, ultimately reckoning him as a jack of all trades. He’s ambitious and all around, traits that are sure to undoubtedly launch him into success.
Explore Antar’s works, ARVADA, and more below.
“I believe if you do something, that thing that you do has to have life and purpose behind it. It has to come to life. People need to genuinely believe in it, get inspired by it. If people aren’t inspired by me then I have failed, and that’s what I stand by.”
Who is Ryan Antar and what is it that you do?
I’m a freshman at the University of Maryland – College Park. I’m currently a Cellular Biology and Genetics major on the pre-med track with a minor in Global Poverty. I’m also the founder of Arvada Creatives & Co. I do a lot to be honest, from trying to get medical internships to continually doing photo shoots and designing product. I’m just trying to do my best and live a fulfilling life.
“The people around me heavily inspire me. I’m surrounded by so many like-minded, talented, and genuine people, it makes me happy.”
Tell us a little about Arvada and the team.
Arvada is a creative company that focuses on a wide variety of things, but mainly concerned with empowering people to pursue whatever creative expression they may have. From design and product to music and fashion, I feel like we can do anything. The team is a bunch of my homies. We chill in houses all day making music, having long conversations, and playing 2k. We very often get into situations that are either extremely hilarious or dangerous, mostly both.
How was Arvada started?
I’m originally from Arvada, Colorado and to be honest that name continually ran through my mind all throughout my life. In middle school, I had this blog where I would post my photography on there and also write reviews about music. It was something I did for myself and no one else, my goal wasn’t to have it public or anything. Eventually, I closed that blog up and just lived my middle school life and dabbling in production a bit. I wasn’t too bad at producing either, but I really don’t think I could continually grow with it. However, in the future I wouldn’t mind doing some production here and there. My freshman year of high school, I made a clothing brand that I ended up making one shirt, and I was the only person that had it. No one bought anything and I honestly quit. When I was younger I struggled with expressing myself and I would be shy when it came to anything creative. Back then, this creative stuff just wasn’t “cool” to people, and people used to pay me no mind whatsoever. Anyways, Arvada was put on hold for four years since that time and I would do things secretly, mainly keeping ideas in my head. It was until my senior year of high school where I really started to feel comfortable with myself and the people around me. I get a lot of love from my high school to be honest and it’s a blessing, but that comes with lots of unneeded drama. Me and my friends always did photoshoots and had ideas for the future and we called this “Arvada”. I feel like being so young, it’s really difficult to have a clear-cut purpose behind something when it’s so natural to you. I worked at Chipotle for a few months and racked up some money, then last summer I randomly went on Twitter and told everyone about my first collection release and we sold out in like two weeks, which to me was amazing. I feel like Arvada has always been in my head but it had to take months and years of growing and learning to finally be able to come out publicly with my ideas.
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Did you have a vision for Arvada when you started it? Has it changed?
Of course. Without an organized plan of attack or precise execution, you have nothing. I think it’s very important to be able to speak your words into existence and I feel as though I’ve done that each time. As much as I believe in a specific “vision”, I also believe it’s important to acknowledge the fact that we don’t know everything and that there’s no way to predict the future. That helps me appreciate every glimpse of success. I’ve kept enough room for mistake and learning with Arvada, I value my failures very heavily and they weigh a lot on me. It makes me better, to really feel that pressure. My vision for Arvada has not changed, everything around me has for sure, from moving away to college to losing touch with very close friends and lots more. It takes a huge toll on me, but I never let it affect my passion. I have lots in store for Arvada that no one knows about or could predict, I just really feel like I can apply it to many industries and change the world eventually once I get a few degrees and build relationships. Those that know me know about my very grand imagination and refusal for dismissal from others. I don’t take “no” for an answer, ever.
What/who influenced you to get into the creative scene as far graphics, photography, design, etc.?
I don’t think it was ever a single source, it seems to be an accumulation of events in my life. People coming in and out of my life, the highs and lows, and the environment around me at the time I create something. I’ve been through lots in my life that I can look back on and remind myself that I deserve this blessing of being able to inspire others and be in a position to really make a difference. I’m influenced by lots of things and I can find inspiration in literally anything I see, hear, or feel, whatever it is I can find a way to manipulate it and get inspiration. I’m usually influenced by music, from Kanye to whatever I can find through SoundCloud… yeah, the same old thing every creative says, but I also am really influenced by travelling and like trips to IKEA. I think influences from experiences are much more meaningful and lead to better results. As far as trying new things and getting involved in more, I do attribute a lot of that influence from my girlfriend. She truly pushes me to keep going with whatever I’m doing, even if I don’t see it as I should. She shows me perspectives to things that I could never have thought of. I really like to stay reserved at times but she tells me I can do anything, and that means the world to me. The people around me heavily inspire me. I’m surrounded by so many like-minded, talented, and genuine people, it makes me happy.
collages created by Antar
You mentioned being a pre-med student which is interesting considering you’re also an established creative. How are you managing both?
It’s something that is hard to explain. I feel like I have to sacrifice much of my life to my craft whether it’s in academics or for my creativity. As my semester goes on, I’m constantly reminded about how school truly kills creativity. However, it is something that I chose to pursue and I know will succeed in both. I’m going after multiple dreams and people always give me a hard time about it, telling me to focus on one thing. It’s just not me. I’ve learned that the people that tend to question your every move and have any amount of doubt in them usually don’t last very long in my life. Anyways, I find myself always doing something. I’m usually studying for long hours in the library during the week, then focus on my creative ventures during the weekends. It’s honestly a very hard balance, but I’m doing well in both. There are times where my health is put to the test and I have to deal with real serious anxiety to the point of finding myself with chest pains in a hospital. Lots of things happen behind the scenes that people don’t know about, that’s why I keep the people that care about me, very, very close to me. They keep me going, even when things get overwhelming. At the end of the day, I’m human and I’m trying.
“I have more challenges ahead of me I know for a fact and I’m ready to take those on. I’m very excited to see how things play out to be honest.”
Have you faced any challenges throughout your artistic endeavors? Are you facing any challenges currently?
I’ve faced too many. Lots of them are not known to a lot of people and things will probably stay that way, but my perspective on life never changed. I love life and remain happy to this day because every day I wake up and do what I love. No matter what, I always keep the end result in my head. Out of all the things I’ve been through, I think the worst feeling is feeling left out and worthless. Many nights I felt like it was just me in an empty room with my thoughts scattered all over, that’s when I knew I needed to do something about it. I hated feeling dismissed by everyone around me, it didn’t make me feel good, especially when it came to my artistic endeavors. My current challenges are just getting through a very rigorous work-load with my academic life and keeping everything stable. I have more challenges ahead of me I know for a fact and I’m ready to take those on. I’m very excited to see how things play out to be honest.
You’re involved in various forms of artistic expressions. Out of all of them, which do you find that you’re most skilled in? Which are you most familiar with? Which do you enjoy the most?
Out of everything, I always find myself most passionate about photography. Once I perfect my skill and feel like I’m satisfied with the product I make, I might show people some other aspects of what I can do, but until then I’m going to keep delivering on things I promise. I really do enjoy designing as well, but it can become frustrating when spending too much time on it. Mainly, this is because if I don’t create what I want, I’ll get frustrated with it and if I spend too much time on it, I can make things worse. So, when it comes to design, I need lots of time to create, take time off, reflect, experience some things, get inspired again, and come back to it.
“I have more challenges ahead of me I know for a fact and I’m ready to take those on. I’m very excited to see how things play out to be honest.”
Loads of people have clothing brands now which is cool because of the flourishing entrepreneurship in the youth. However, there is a lack of originality. How do you set Arvada apart?
This is a great question. I think as a generation we haven’t had the time to step back and reassess all the things around us, which I think is part of the reason why some of these “brands” still exist to some degree. This applies to a lot of things too. Everything is go, go, go. We don’t take time to reflect on what’s really making a difference. It is amazing to see people finally feeling comfortable with doing creative things, it just sucks when I see unoriginal things or people that create with no actual passion. Trends suck. They literally drain from real talent and devalue the work of others. I’m not here to hate, only here to reflect, and I think that’s something we all need to do a better job at doing. Arvada is very much different in that it is not a brand in the first place, eventually it will be multiple companies or divisions each with different missions from non-profit charity to whatever else I might want it to be in 10 years. Arvada is here for life. Anything unoriginal and without passion is temporary. I believe if you do something, that thing that you do has to have life and purpose behind it, it has to come to life. People need to genuinely believe in it, get inspired by it. If people aren’t inspired by me then I have failed, and that’s what I stand by. Arvada is also different in that I’m trying to revolutionize the way we make differences in the community. I really want to fuse creative ventures with philanthropic opportunities and help communities of people locally and around the world. So, who knows what’s in store for Arvada. I’ve kept it free enough to transform into many, many things.
What’s a dream project of yours? Who would you love to collaborate with?
I can’t really pinpoint one specific dream project that I have, but I have multiple for sure. I really want to be in the position to build my own medical clinic one day after graduating medical school and excelling at my profession. I feel like that may be a long ways ahead of me, but it is something I always find myself thinking about. However, in the meantime while I work on achieving that goal, I want to have pop-up shops and art workshops all over the world. I want to be able to give people the resources to express themselves, whether that’s through funding for free softwares, teaching how to use different softwares, or providing with supplies for art. People may say I’m spreading myself out too much, but I know my limits and I know my potential and I definitely feel like this is very achievable, it just takes immense dedication and gradual growth. Nothing is ever overnight, ever. As far as collaborations, I want to work with a lot of non-profit organizations and host events for communities of people and have “ARVADA” volunteers as I would say, I’m not too sure how it will work at the moment but it is something I will work towards. Creatively, I really would like to work with Heron Preston, who is one of my role models, I feel as if me and him would agree on many things and I really hope our paths fuse one day.
Any advice or wise words you’d like to share? Shoutouts?
A lot of things are regurgitated in the realm of “advice”. People really like to say things to say them and don’t truly stand by them. As for me, I think staying true to oneself is essential for maintaining success and growing as a person. Lots of things will come up and could be possible deterrents, but if you don’t let those things affect the intentions you set out for, you will find lots of growth because you’re able to see the flaws and the different perspectives that comes with each event in your life. I also really like reflecting on my life periodically, like I constantly find myself setting small goals for each little period of my current life, whether its the semester I am in or it’s the week ahead of me. By tackling my smaller goals, I am being more satisfied with myself being productive and I am able to gauge where I am in my life. I think a lot of people keep dreaming big, which is necessary, but they lose sight on the present and they miss out on their own journey to that overarching goal. There isn’t much else to say because I feel like each person has their own insight on their path that there’s no one rule that could apply to everyone. Success isn’t a one way path and certainly isn’t a straight shot road. It’s really rough and often times I feel like we get overwhelmed when we find ourselves at a dead end or make a wrong turn and get lost. A lot of it has to do with how you go about finding your way again and dealing with any troubles, that what defines character.