Ryan Montoya’s byline is unlike anything you’ve ever seen: A licensed doctor, a comic book artist, and a Goyard design consultant. For two years, he spent time in Bosna i Hercegovina alongside his wife who serves as an American diplomat. He recounts the daily experiences and difficulties of creating art in a country still living in the shadow of war.
Narration by Cody Horne
Text & Illustrations by Ryan Montoya
On aerial overview of Banja Luka.
An illustration of Bosna i Hercegovina by Ryan Montoya.
A crisp fall day in Banja Luka.
A panoramic nighttime view of Banja Luka.
Fluorescent and incandescent lamplights bathe my wide black drafting table as I sit down. My illustration for the Gradski Tamburaski Orkestar Banja Luka concert poster is almost complete. My pencil draftwork has been fully enveloped by thick obsidian ink in dot matrices, cross hatching, feathering, teaks, scribbles, swirls, soft, tight, loose and angry lines. The high-contrast linework is unforgiving, and the countenances of the four principal characters in the drawing have been stretched to their expressive caricatured consequences. I uncap the ink bottle and slowly dip my crow quill pen, emptying its reservoir of excess ink on the glass vial’s crusted edges. I place the pen’s metal point onto the paper to etch the fourth character’s eyes. It is Gerard Depardieu in costume as Christopher Columbus from the film “1492: Conquest of Paradise.” He’s wearing rags at a formal dining event to which he was not invited, and everyone is staring at him. He’s an intruder who couldn’t be more out of place in this crowd. Depardieu’s sunken, weary eyes betray a self-conscious humiliation and an ineffable alienation. But he still stands obstinately with the congregation. It takes me two seconds to draw Depardieu’s furled eyebrow. It took me much longer to understand what he’s feeling.