Five minutes with Christopher David Ryan aka CDR

October 14, 2015

Like most people – I hope I am not alone, I now wake up by scrolling through Instagram. Thankfully for that, a few months ago amid all the cat and fashion related posts in my feed I came across a post by JCrew that immediately put a smile on my face. It was an ordinary campaign image of a girl but it had a charming illustration of a man hugging her. This resonated so strongly with me I had to find out more.  


I discovered that Illustrator, Graphic Designer and Musician Christopher David Ryan, was behind the illustration and collaborated with the brand to celebrate their million following milestone. The campaign gave followers the chance to be big hugged by the artist. Lost? Ryan was incredibly kind to answer a few of my questions, so let me take you on the journey to reveal the artist behind these wonderful illustrations.

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Christopher David Ryan aka CDR, “tries to make the world better through art – promoting peace and love in vibrant colour and without self-censure.” Having worked for brands like Victoria Secret, Nike and Google, Ryan knows how to capture an audiences’ attention with his “hyperactive imagination” and enchanting concepts. He describes his art as “simple, emotive and positive” which becomes apparent the minute you look at his Instagram feed. His illustrations capture the essence of our daily lives in a witty and captivating manner – smiles are guaranteed!

Christopher David Ryan 4His character Big Hug – the charming illustration which makes everything in the world better through a hug, which was used in the JCrew campaign was inspired by A Tribe Called Quest’s song “Can I Kick It”. There is a line that goes “Come and spread your arms if you really need a hug.” Ryan thought to himself “Who doesn’t want a hug?” and initiated #cdrbighug a social interaction with his followers incorporating the Big Hug character. All they have to do is post a photo of themselves on Instagram and #cdrbighug, Ryan then picks his favourite and incorporates his Big Hug character in the chosen photo. The series garnered so much media and social attention that it generated collaborations with brands like JCrew, MANGO and more recently Teen Vogue, all featuring variations of his Big Hug character. Ryan was incredibly kind to Big Hug me and this beautiful reminder of joy and kindness is now hanging in my new home.

Nadine-Hug The Essentialist Blog 2Prior to the #cdrbighug series, Ryan had already being drawing characters hugging models in ads from The New York Times Sunday Styles section. “The whole thing started almost by accident. I was drawing in my sketchbook at the breakfast table one Sunday morning and I just kind of moved over to the newspaper. I noticed an ad that pictured a particularly sad looking model, so I just drew in a character that was basically mimicking her in the ad’s white space. I found the whole experience very enjoyable so I posted it to Instagram.” The posts were so well received by his followers that he turned his Sunday Styles doodles into a weekly series, which you can follow on #cdrsundaystyles.

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cdr  The Essentialist Blog 3This unique concept and proactive approach has initiated collaborations with The New York Times, one of his favourite projects “was a series of illustrations that consisted of characters interacting with photos of watches. The project came directly from the visibility of [his] Sunday Styles series on Instagram. What made the project so great was that it was a great opportunity for a side of [his] work to move off of Instagram. And, [he] was given artistic freedom. Can’t beat that!” See it here.

 Another reason I became so fond of his illustrations was because many of them incorporated cats – more specifically his two cats Scotch and Charlie! As a self-confessed #catlady also with a cat called Charlie, I was very happy to find out Ryan liked them too “I am a cat fan to say the least. I marvel at their mysterious nature and the brand that they’ve been able to create for their species. They get away with murder!!!” They certainly do, and Ryan depicts their entitled nature so beautifully in his illustrations!

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So add a little humour and positivity to your home by owning your very own CDR piece, his online store features a range prints as well as totes – I’m sure you can guess which one I’ll be getting! Xx Nadine

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1 Comment

  • Reply Lei Lei Clavey October 14, 2015 at 4:43 am

    Love love love this post!! CDR is such an amazing artist- I love that he spreads the hugs! Positive vibes are totally my gig:)

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