Ryan Cooper was born in Los Angeles in 1945 and raised and educated in Monterey, California. He took the Famous Artists School course in cartooning and began his career early as a graphic artist and cartoonist learning many skills “on the job.” He began working freelance for McGraw-Hill Publishing Co. and took a position with the firm as Staff Artist, illustrating educational publications which included; children’s books, game boards, book covers and cartoons. Later on he was an Art Director for Brooks/Cole Publishing Company, a division of Wadsworth. In 1982 he left that firm and moved to New England but continued to work as a freelance artist for many publishing companies including McGraw-Hill, Little Brown, Heinemann, Wadsworth and later, almost exclusively, for Riverside Publishing Co.
Aside from a career as a graphic artist, Ryan devoted much of his spare time to painting as an avocation. He lived for a time in Amsterdam where he drew his inspiration from the British and Dutch masters of landscape and marine painting. He was inspired by the use of chiaroscuro, which the Dutch masters used to create a dramatic pathway for the observer’s eye. He saw the viewer as a traveler in an unexplored kingdom taking in the various facets of the landscape journey. This traditional style continues to influence his work.
Aside from his art, Ryan’s interests include maritime history where in his studio can be found objects of the seafaring past: ship’s figureheads, bells and other artifacts which inspire his work.
In another facet of Ryan’s life was his close friendship with Otto Frank, the father of Anne Frank, who became his mentor and spiritual guide. Today, he often shares these experiences by speaking at schools about Anne Frank and the Holocaust.