If you live in or frequent Ballard often, you may have seen exterior walls filled with brightly-colored, whimsical creatures and wondered, “Who painted that?” In many cases, the answer is the prolific muralist/ artist Ryan Henry Ward, who signs his work simply “henry”. His outdoor canvases adorn buildings in Ballard, Fremont, West Seattle, Crown Hill, and beyond.
Although henry has been artistic all his life, he painted his first mural only 8 years ago when a bar owner who admired his work asked him to cover up graffiti on the side of his building. A Ballard News-Tribune article drew more attention to his work. After a career as a social worker, the Puget Sound Business Journal mentioned henry ran a successful landscaping business with his brother. He had to stop, due to a spinal injury.
At last count, Ryan Henry Ward has painted around 200 murals since 2008 on different business buildings & homes: automotive, thrift store, children’s nursery, taverns, among others, and now works on commission. One of his mythical creatures, a sasquatch, is sandwiched on a fence between the Sip ‘n Ship store and Golden Beetle Restaurant, a ½ block east of 20th Ave. NW on Market Street in Ballard. His work has had a positive influence on the Sip ‘N Ship, according to Matt Beavers, the shipping manager for the past year. “We have people from all over who notice the mural first and it touches them in a way, from the heart”, he said. “Because once they see it, they’re drawn into the store.”