Meet Ryan Steiskal, the artist behind WBCP’s new logo
Late last year our logo art competition garnered 60 submissions from dozens of artists around the state. But only one design came out on top, delivering a sharp, fresh look for WBCP as we move into a new era of bird conservation. Congratulations and thank you to Ryan Steiskal of Milwaukee for his bold design emphasizing the species and scope of our work. We sat down with Ryan to ask him a few questions about his art and the inspiration behind his winning design.
When did you become interested in art?
I think it’s pretty accurate to say that I’ve been into art all my life. It started around age two, when I could first pick up a marker or crayon and has continued to be a passion into adulthood. I graduated from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh with my Bachelor of Fine Arts a few years ago and have been working to put my skills to good use by focusing on commissions, producing illustrative work for research papers and taking up graphic design work.
How did you find out about our logo art competition?
I actually found out about the contest from a friend. I mentioned to her how I’m trying to branch out more and teach myself graphic design. A few days later, she sent me a link to the WBCI logo contest and strongly encouraged me to enter. Despite my initial hesitation, due to my amateur knowledge and skills in graphic art, I inevitably took the chance and gave it my all. I ended up making a design that I felt very proud of. When I learned that my design had won, I felt a further source of pride and validation, too. I suppose there’s an important lesson to be learned here about taking chances to pursue your passion. And with that, I should ultimately thank my friend, Melissa, for showing support by referring me to this contest.
What inspired your logo design?
The inspiration for my design comes from my parents and the birds that I associate with childhood memories that I have growing up in Wisconsin. The hummingbird I used in the logo is associated with my mom. She adores hummingbirds and we would always work together to setup the feeder each summer; both of us eagerly waiting to see if any hummingbirds would visit. It’s such a wonderfully, bizarre bird (not unlike my mom), and having the opportunity to observe and feed them always brought both of us joy. The level of excitement my mom experiences whenever she sees a hummingbird approach her feeder is still infectious to this day.
The goose is associated with my dad and the hunting trips we would go on when I was very young. I honestly never really had much interest in hunting, however, I was always excited to accompany my dad to his duck/goose blind out on the water, learning about how delicate a ecosystem, like a wetlands, can be and the responsibilities we have to mindful on how our presence can impact that environment. It always felt like an adventure in my young mind and those trips helped grow the bond between me and my dad that remains strong to this day.
The crane in the logo is tied to more memories of home from my childhood. The cranes were frequent visitors to the man-made pond behind our house. When I was a very young tot, my parents would always get a rise out of me by referring to the sandhill cranes that flew by as “pterodactyls”. As a child who was appropriately obsessed with dinosaurs at that time, this always made me rush to the windows or outside to gaze upon those magnificent, lengthy birds. By the time I grew up and left home to go to college, the image of crane changed and started to become a symbol of familiarity and comfort to me, paying homage to my childhood wonder and my parents’ odd (but beloved) sense of humor. To this day, whenever I’m around them, they still refer to any cranes they see as “pterodactyls”, while I still look upon them, both the cranes and my parents, with the same wonderment.
Being raised by my parents here in Wisconsin was key to forming my strong love and respect for nature that I still carry with me today. The birds from my past are an expression of my appreciation for those memories gained and lessons learned in my life. It is my hope that the logo I have designed, inspired by that appreciation, serves as a fitting representation for WBCP and their continued work in conserving and restoring the habitats of these beloved birds of Wisconsin.
For more of Ryan’s work, follow him on Facebook at The Artwork of Ryan Steiskal or on Instagram @ryan_steiskal.