A Broken iPad and Covid-19 Could Not Stop Me From Creating Art

Ryan Smoluk

By Ryan Smoluk

Quarantine, social distancing, and the Covid-19 virus has created a new normal for most of the world right now. Seems like some people are freaking out and losing their minds.

What is Normal Anyway?

For those who struggle with a disability or autism, isolation is all too familiar. This is our normal. One thing I know for sure, is that for most people, life will eventually get back to normal for them.

I know this seems a little weird but it seems like the world is getting a touch of what it would feel like to have autism.

Apple iPad Project

I felt highly honoured when Apple contacted me, one of the biggest companies in the world. They had partnered with The Art of Autism to celebrate Autism Acceptance month last month.

It was a great opportunity for artists to create artwork using digital Apple technology and new software. Apple supplied the artist with all the equipment.

I also learned that iPad art could possibly be on display for the MozArt@OMA exhibit at Oceanside Museum of Art in San Diego County.

I have never used an iPad; I am totally a fish out of water. I had serious self-doubts. I thought to myself how will I know what I can do, if I don’t try!

As much as I really wanted to do this awesome project, I still didn’t believe I could do it. I’m not ashamed to admit it, I felt apprehensive and fearful.

I phoned my mentor Diana Thorneycraft and told her all about this exciting project. She listened. She knew I had no technical knowledge of computers or software.

Ryan with Diana at Culture Shock Exhibit

Diana said: “Ryan…Yes! You can do this. Take this as a challenge. What have you got to lose?”

She suggested I start quickly putting together some concepts so when the iPad arrives, I could hit the ground running. Her advice helped me to stop overthinking and start to focus on how I was going to pull this all together.

We all need people in our lives like Diana Thorneycroft who support and push us to do more and try new things.

Once I received my iPad package I quickly got to work. I knew there was a deadline and I had 4 weeks to produce something I would be happy with.

The Lion

Ryan Smoluk Lion

I decided to stay with a familiar subject matter. I have always liked the image of a lion. It is such a strong regal animal. It represents inner strength.

I found this image calming to work on. I am pleased with the end results and I liked the vivid color of the software.

I have never created digital artwork like this before and I didn’t know how to use the software. I feel that God gives up obstacles to overcome, its what we do with those challenges that define us.

I am so glad that I kept going and kept learning to use the iPad and the Apple Pencil. The more I played with the Pencil, the more excited I got!

If you use the Pencil lightly it draws thin lines and when you use more pressure the line becomes thicker. I liked the way you could zoom into certain sections and add more detail.

In this image of the Easter Island head you can really see how I was able to add lots of detail. And I really like working with lots of detail.

Ryan Smoluk The Cloud Guy

Head in the Clouds

The Easter Island head is another subject matter that I like to draw. It’s just a fun piece to work on. Even though I was using a new medium it seemed less scary to use images that I like and am comfortable with.

Everything was going well again. I was feeling more secure, I was starting to feel healthier mentally and physically. The Apple project was going well! I had experimented and become more confident with the software. I was beginning to relax and enjoy the whole process.

Ryan Smoluk

My friend Jenel Shaw came to visit me one evening in my art studio. She took this picture of me with my iPad. I met Jenel last summer when she started to work as the executive director for Arts AccessAbility Network Manitoba (aanm.ca). Jenel has become a friend and ally in the art world. I was happy to see her and show her my progress.

I was really glad she took this picture of me working on my iPad, little did I know things were about to get bad again.

Broken iPad

A few days after this picture was taken the unthinkable happened. I accidentally dropped my iPad and shattered the screen. I was devastated. I had no idea what I would do! I was worried sick. As this happened in early March, the COVID-19 pandemic closed all non-essentials businesses including the Apple store. I didn’t know what to do.

My mom suggested that I contact Apple headquarters and let them know what happened, but I thought that if I didn’t say anything the problem would go away. The problem unfortunately did not go away. My mind was constantly occupied with how irresponsible I had been.

I decided to bite the bullet and contact Apple myself. When I explained what had happened, they immediately told me not to worry. They said these things do happen and that they would send me a new replacement right away.

I was so shocked! I could not believe it! I never expected them to be so understanding and accommodating.

Lo and behold a few days later I received the replacement iPad. I was so happy that I had decided to write about it.

To learn more about Ryan visit www.ryansmoluk.ca

1 Comment

  • Great job being brave and reaching out to Apple! Fear is a hard thing to overcome. Your work is amazing!

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