My Secret Life: Rob Ryan, artist, 47

My parents were ... straightforward, fairly no-nonsense Paddies.

The house/flat I grew up in ... My dad was in the RAF, so we lived in a variety of boring married quarters attached to a number of airbases in anonymous parts of the world. It was kind of like living on an estate where everyone worked for the same company.

When I was a child I wanted to be ... someone who drew pictures though I didn't actually know what an artist was.

If I could change one thing about myself ... Let's just say, if I was a house and you bought me, you'd probably knock me down and start again.

You wouldn't know it but I'm no good at ... talking to strangers. I'm terribly self-conscious and shy.

You may not know it but I'm very good at ... dancing in a Northern Soul style, with confidence. I learnt at the clubs and the Wigan Casino at an early age.

At night I dream of ... I never remember but whatever can go wrong will go wrong in my dreams. Being asleep is a very stressful time.

What I see when I look in the mirror ... is a hairy bald guy: I don't know who he is.

My favourite item of clothing ... is a luxurious pair of chestnut-brown corduroy trousers from a brilliant clothing company called Old Town.

I drive ... a little red VW Lupo. I also ride a racing bike.

My flat is ... on the seventh floor and rented from Westminster Council. It's officially in Belgravia but I like to say it's in Victoria to keep my street credentials high.

My favourite work of art ... is a painting by Titian called 'The Death of Actaeon', which is held in the National Gallery. It's a thrilling, moody piece set on a dark autumnal afternoon. There are lots of stories going on at the same time, including a murder; just looking at the picture it feels like you're a bystander witnessing the whole thing.

My favourite building ... I like the V&A Museum, from the inside, with all its corridors, balconies, levels and layers.

A book that changed me ... When I was 17 years old, I read 'Borstal Boy' by Brendan Behan. The narrator is such a wonderful boy, someone with such an incredible largeness of spirit that he inspired me to be better.

Movie heaven ... At the risk of sounding pretentious, I'm a big fan of the Italian neo-realist movement. My favourite is 'Miracle in Milan'. Watching that on a black-and-white TV in the afternoon would be heaven.

The last album I bought ... was Marvin Gaye's 'I Want You', the deluxe edition.

My secret crush ... I don't go for the predictable handsome stereotypes. I like funny Jewish women.

My greatest regret ... I can't go down that road. If I were to be completely honest in my answer to that I would break down right now.

My real-life villain ... Margaret Thatcher is still hanging in there at No 1.

The person who really makes me laugh ... Whatever Marc Wootton says reduces me to pieces. He's a comic genius.

The last time I cried ... was a couple of days ago while I was listening to a song that reminded me of something sad.

My five-year plan ... My grandmother died aged 52 and my mother died aged 52. I'm now aged 47, so I'm thinking it would be nice to match them, if not go a bit further.

What's the point? You tell me.

My life in six words ... You just keep on keeping on.

A life in brief

Rob Ryan was born on an RAF base in Cyprus on 5 November 1962. He is best known for his romantic paper-cuts, on which he has collaborated with Paul Smith, Liberty and Vogue among others. He is designing the cover image for The Independent's Green Awards, to be published next week, and his work can be seen at the London Original Print Fair at the Royal Academy of Arts, from 29 April to 3 May; see

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Guru Careers: Graduate Resourcer / Recruitment Account Executive

£18k + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a bright, enthusiastic and internet...

Reach Volunteering: Chair and trustees sought for YMCA Bolton

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Bolton YMCA is now a...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back