Meet The Artist: Ryan Abramowitz of Today Tomorrow Forever

Photo: Courtesy of Today Tomorrow Forever

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.

I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and immigrated to Sydney, Australia with my family when I was six. I was fortunate enough to attend a Jewish Primary and High School (Masada College), which instilled within me a strong sense of Yiddishkeit and connection to my Jewish identity, culture and community.  Growing up, I always had an affinity with the arts in all its forms, and connected with the expressions of my soul when spilling my imagination through the brush into the space of the canvas.

Following high school, I went on a GAP Year before commencing University, where I volunteered in Israel for 6 months at an Elderly Artists Colony in Jerusalem (Yad Lakashish) and a preschool in Ashkelon. For the remainder of my GAP year I did a series of internships in the areas of architecture, interior design, lighting design and Marketing across New York and Toronto.

With a deeper sense of self and knowing about my vocational interests, I changed my degree enrolment from Law in preference for a broad Design degree at the College of Fine Arts (UNSW). Here I majored in Spatial Design as well as Graphics / Media design with a sub major in Jewellery. I graduated with First Class Honours for my Thesis in the field of ‘Digital Humanities’ which sits somewhere in a space between sociology and social media. Specifically this thesis investigated the way in which the Instagram Geotagging mechanism creates a virtual tourist destination, and this trend is symptomatic of our digital migration into the ether.  For the case study, I chose Anish Kapoor’s mercurial sculpture in Chicago ‘Cloud Gate’ (often colloquialised as ‘The Bean’), which as a reflective object allowed me to draw meta reflections about society at large.   During my Undergraduate Degree I did a Semester abroad at the Art Institute of Chicago, which was a fertile expansion of my artistic vocabulary.  Here I studied set design, photography, oil painting and the philosophy of the soul. It was a rich palette of artistic expansion and education I was grateful for.

In 2015, I received a Scholarship to do my Masters of Management (Marketing) at the University of Melbourne, and so I drove down the coast of Australia in anticipation of a whole new chapter to my life story.  As apart of this program, I did an exchange Semester at the Copenhagen Business School. Having had the opportunities to live, work and study across Israel, Europe and North America has made me a more globally conscious citizen of the world. Since graduating from my Masters, I have been working in the Marketing Services practice at Accenture Interactive by day, and painting Ketubot by night. The evening, accompanied by the moon is a very peaceful and romantic time to cradle these pieces from creative birth and usher them into this world.

In the Australian Spring of 2015, I was flattered when one of my closest friends asked me to design and paint the Ketubah for her wedding. Whilst I had previously been commissioned to produce art, I felt privileged to be creating a Ketubah – a document of such great significance.

Word of mouth within the Australian Jewish community generated numerous further commissions. And so, with the passage of time, ‘Today Tomorrow Forever’ came into being. This venture is the culmination of my academic career, life experiences, love of Judaism and passion for the visual arts – which together have well equipped me to offer these creative services and paint love stories.

In my spare time I love walking down to the pier, and falling into daydreams, hypnotised by the way the light dances on the water, and observing the different textures of the waves rolling into the shore, rippling, crashing and curling around the sand. I love people watching, sun set watching, star gazing and anything that helps us connect to the wider systems of the universe. 

What inspired you to become an artist?

I can’t recall one moment or instance that inspired me to be an artist.

Since childhood I have gravitated towards the arts as a vehicle for meaningful expression, catharsis and creation. My love for art has been nurtured and nourished through maintaining a palette of creative interests; painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, creative writing and jewellery making.

For me, being an artist was never a conscious decision. It is something deep and innate in the fabric of my soul. When I listen to my heart, I feel called to paint with all the colours of my dreams and textures of my imagination.

What is your specialty?

I enjoy all media, and the unique quirks that each genre of painting or other creative modalities offer, however my speciality would have to be watercolour. I love the emotionality that is manifest in watercolour painting. Watercolour is transparent and honest – it doesn’t hide or conceal. All the vulnerabilities, dreams, aspiration’s and feelings of the painter are revealed there, sifted between the paint pigment and the water that carries it.

How and where do you work?

As each Ketubah is different, my process for each varies. It often is a mixed media rendition of watercolour, acrylic accents and iridescent gold, silver or copper-esque embellishments and details.

Sometimes these are professionally scanned in and digitally synthesised, printed and with imbued with further painting applications and layers. Other times, particularly when I collaborate with Soferim who write the Ketubah text by hand, the entire piece is hand painted.

I work at home, in my apartment in Melbourne which is located by the Bay-side leafy suburb of St Kilda. As my desk is North facing (and being located in the Southern Hemisphere), it catches all the direct sunlight when I paint during the day.

It’s magical to feel the sun on my hands as I paint worlds.  Other times when working on larger scale works and canvases, I paint on my dining room table which generously affords more space or set up an easel. For me, my living apace and studio are one, and therefore when I am at home I always feel identified with my artistic self in one way or another.

What is the most indispensable item in your work?

Following on from my answer to the question with respect to my speciality, I think the most prized possession and indispensable item in my studio would be my watercolour paint tubes. 

The saturation, intensity and quality of the paints I use are outstanding – and they yield the most luminous colours, mineral textures of pigment residue. These paints flow beautifully into one another, like the ordained merging of two rivers or marriage of soul mates. The paint tubes are nestled in this gorgeous gold and turquoise (my favourite colour) embroidered pouch. Dynamite comes in small packages.

Where do you take your inspiration? Are you pursuing any themes?

Henry David Thoreau famously proclaimed, “This world is but a canvas to our imagination”.  This quote beautifully captures the diversity of places in the world where I breathe in inspiration for my artwork from.

A fertile source of inspiration for me is nature in all its abundant glory.  My Ketubot often celebrate the beauty of biophilia and the magnificence of the wild. As a praise to majesty of Hashem’s creations, they conjure imagery from the natural world – of plant and animal, flora and fauna to adorn the Ketubot. Forests, gardens, ponds, flowers, fruit, trees – painted through the soft symphony of watercolour and tactile textures of acrylic and other media together sing a sonnet to the seasons and nature – and the blossoming of love blooming within.

I am also infinitely inspired by the nourishment, purity and vitality of water and its raison d’être to support life. These Oceanic Ketubot cast a net upon the aesthetic, metaphysical and metaphorical qualities of water. In doing so, they arrive at outcomes which infer the effervescent and ephemeral textures of the surface of water, visualising the way light shines through and plays with water to conjure dapples, ripples, reflections and refractions. Further, oceanic and seaside imagery is harnessed to visualise the energy and momentum of the waves, which waltz in moving meditations.

The exciting and dynamic Jewish Calendar of Chaggim and Festivals are another source, catalysing the creation of Ketubot which harvest motifs and symbols. These are significant and meaningful to the stories, traditions and observances of each Chag and Holiday – nestled into the design expression. The Jewish Calendar is imbued with many vibrant and colourful holidays that each conjure exciting visual elements and associations.

Other Ketubot draw from the fertile tapestry of metaphors and motifs which Eretz Israel provides– such as the 7 species harvested in biblical times which grow from its soil, its beautiful natural scenery, Mediterranean design aesthetic, imagery of the Kotel and Jerusalem; the Eternal City whose stone glows with a golden elixir at sunset.

Other times, my inspiration for Bespoke commissioned pieces flows organically and naturally from hearing the love story of the couple themselves, and the themes, motifs and metaphors that resonate with them.

The website is organised thematically and into categories of Nature and Garden, Ocean and Water, Jewish Festival Calendar, Colour, Contemporary, Architectural, Classical, Chamsa, Floral, Predesigned and Lasercut – the variety of these reflecting the breadth of sources that I glean inspiration from.

What projects are you currently working on?

At the moment in Australia it is Summer, and it is therefore peak wedding season. In December, I had 12 Ketubot due alone (some of them without long lead times so I am still catching my breathe after that). However, I have a few exciting pieces in the works:

  • A pairing of two watercolour Monstera leaves whose stems wrap around one another, residing in a glass vase.
  • A floral canopy Ketubah that is suspended and drapes down into the space of the canvas, with lavender coloured wisterias and a dusty pastel pink peonies.
  • A guava linen Chamsa which will be outlined in gold, and float on a watercolour washed background of turquoises, aquas, emeralds and sky blues.
  • A hand embroidered Ketubah that will feature silver wave like ripples stitched into a blue stained and oceanic inspired linen cloth (I love exploring new technologies and materiality’s for Ketubot creation and diversification).

Outside the realm of Ketubot (yes, such a thing exists sometimes) , I am working on a few paintings for my apartment however these always get deprioritised down the painting pipeline- because unlike a Ketubah which needs to be ready before the wedding, these have no pressing or definitive deadline.

These other projects include a 4 panel piece that pays homage to four of the cities I have lived in (for this series I chose Sydney, Melbourne, Copenhagen and Chicago – each expressed in a panel that celebrates a season experienced in that city). The challenge here is to paint them as a continuous landscape so there is a dialogue between the paintings as well as each being an entirely resolved piece of art when viewed independently.

For a long canvas that runs the length of my bed headboard, I am painting an abstract, esoteric and Surrealist piece. Here, Jellyfish are floating through clouds which symbolise my dreams swirling buoyantly through my subconscious Mindspace. This sky drips into a flattened scaffold of my apartment beneath, visualising the way my imagination porously descends into the architecture of my reality. Each doorway is going to be a gateway into a different dimension of the self, using objects of this world to infer mystical and magical happenings in dream states. As a painter, one of my favourite things to do is to place oceanic creatures into the clouds and birds into the sea, thereby inverting the expected habitat of those belonging in the oceans and in the cosmos (gesturing the universality of belonging).

Do you do bespoke work?

Absolutely. ‘Today Tomorrow Forever’ initially began creating exclusively crafted, one of a kind Bespoke art pieces that were customised for each couple. However, within the first year, I noticed certain trends and similarities between what couples were requesting or aesthetically drawn too.

Since then, as I am passionate about making my art accessible to all, I have and will continue to design and paint an ever-expanding collection of creations, residing in the “Predesigned” gallery of the website. Here, I am able to substitute the text for each couple, allowing it to be personalised, placed on predesigned artwork and printed on the highest artists quality textured paper.  These can still be embellished or varied with hand painted initials and other details so the couple still feels personally and uniquely connected to the work.

What are your favourite items in your current collection?

Analogous to a parent who can’t identify their favourite child, I am going to take a similar position and state that I love all the Ketubot equally. Of course, some align more with my own aesthetic style or preferences.  

The Predesigned artwork however are a more organic response to what I see, feel and think, as these Ketubot flow from my imagination and spill into landscapes, dreamscapes and skyscapes. Amongst this collection, there is a Ketubah called “The Art of Love” which is poignantly dedicated to the memory and legacy of Marc Chagall (1887- 1985) and the beauty he gifted this world, on the canvas and beyond. I am tenderly in gratitude to the artists who came before me, and the offerings of their heart and soul which they gifted the world through their strokes. 

This is a Ketubah visualising a dreamscape that crowns the art of love, and the art of love. As life, love and colour flow forth from the artists brush, time and space float freely across this dreamscape, featuring the quintessential stylistic signature of Chagall’s floating Bride Groom and Jewish shtetl life.

“The Art of Love.”

Photo: Courtesy of Today Tomorrow Forever

How do you know when a piece is finished?

My art teacher in high school always (kindly) reminded me of my tendency to overdue things. As I am evolving as an artist and painter, I am slowly trying to consciously remind myself that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Some couples prefer minimal compositions, and in this case, I view the work from this lens – and can recognise when enough elements are there without anything further adding to the composition. Other times, I give myself breaks and revisit the work until it feels richly and fully resolved in a way that I feel fulfilled with its residency, manifestation and materialisation from my thinking onto the canvas.

What was the first artwork you ever sold?

I have forever been in awe of the sky; an ever changing landscape where light and texture dance upon blowing clouds, and the castles in the sky where Heaven’s gate beckons the Earth. When I was 19, I was commissioned by an Investment Banking Firm in Sydney to do a panoramic expression of the sky and its movement for their Board Room.  It was so much fun to paint, and effortlessly flowed from the brush. I was doing my favourite activity (painting), with my favourite subject matter (the sky). The only thing missing was whales.

Which project have you enjoyed working on the most so far?

Every commission is special in its own unique way. However whenever I have had a prior relationship or connection with the couple, it is always sacred when painting the Ketubah to think that I knew these people separately, and am now creating the wedding contract that will usher them into a partnership and union as they journey into eternity together. This gives a dimension of fulfilment to my work that I hadn’t experienced until painting Ketubot (as opposed to other commissioned work).

These emotions become even more immersive when I observe the Ketubah being carried out under the Chuppah on the wedding day and recited. To know that my hand was involved in the gateway to their married lives together is a blessing I consciously thank Hashem for bestowing.

Besides that, there is a Ketubah, entitled ‘Cosmic Serenity’ which previews the glittering firmament and majestic boundlessness of the universe, picturing two whales which majestically float and flow, accompanying each other’s journey. This is analogous to the couple who together share in the passage of their converging movement and motion through life.

Here, a sparkling skyscape of stars shine brightly in the majesty of a magical moonlight sonata during a peaceful and beautiful night veil. The heaven surrenders to the ocean and a cosmic continuity cascades from sea to sky and vice versa in a celestial harmony. This Ketubah was so enjoyable to paint because it’s so dreamy and cosmic, featuring my favourite pairing – whales in clouds.

“Cosmic Serenity”

Photo: Courtesy of Today Tomorrow Forever

What do you want to achieve with your work and what are your wishes for the future? 

Painting Ketubot, Blessings and other artwork (invitations, thank you cards, Benching cards and other projects) allows me to cultivate my love for artistic creation with the excitement of witnessing love stories. It has also enabled me to engage with my Jewish identity and Yiddishkeit, and ‘marry’ this with my love of visual storytelling, Romanticism and my artistic passion.  

There is magic in meeting a couple, hearing their love story and harnessing the resulting inspiration to drive the realisation of a design which celebrates the motifs, metaphors, meanings and memories relevant to them.

When I paint, it feels like the most sincere actualisation of my purpose and reason for being here on Earth, and born into this world.  For my work, I just want to continue painting and I feel grateful for every commission. With how significant weddings are, to be given the opportunity to paint a couples Ketubah feels like the greatest honour.  For an artist to be commissioned for a piece, it is a validating indictment of their work and this endorsement gives us confidence to reach deeper into our soul, be bolder with our strokes and dream more broadly. With time, I hope to further extend and usher ‘Today Tomorrow Forever’ into the global arena, painting Ketubot for couples in all countries, climates and seasons.  Every love story looks different.

In Australia, there is a famous Portraiture prize called the Archibald Prize and it is awarded annually to the best portrait, “of some man or woman distinguished in art, letters, science or politics, painted by any artist resident in Australasia”. Whilst I have no expectation of winning, to be exhibited itself is an achievement. Entering the Archibald is definately on the bucket list of my artistic endeavours in (hopefully) the near future.

As mentioned previously in 2015, one of my best friends asked me to paint her Ketubah. At the time, I never thought it would be anything more than a one off piece, and nearly 5 years later, ‘Today Tomorrow Forever’ has blossomed into its own entity – and become one of the best things to happen to me. I could have never dreamed that this single painting would become the Genesis for what flowed after, and reflection upon this makes me excited for the future – however unpredictable.

Painting art touches on my destiny and in turn these Ketubot are my most meaningful legacy – as they sing of being, becoming and beauty – residing on the walls of the homes of the couples whose weddings they crowned. Like love, which is timeless, for every simcha I strives to create something that is cherished and celebrated, today, tomorrow and forever.

Where can we find your work?





Film Trailer for “Chai Love Stories”:

Photo: Courtesy of Today Tomorrow Forever

Elemental Infinity Webs

Photo: Courtesy of Today Tomorrow Forever

Higher Love Ketubah II

Photo: Courtesy of Today Tomorrow Forever

Linen and Gold Duet

Photo: Courtesy of Today Tomorrow Forever

One Lattice, One Love

Photo: Courtesy of Today Tomorrow Forever

Notebook Ketubah

Photo: Courtesy of Today Tomorrow Forever

Seasons of Love Ketubah

Photo: Courtesy of Today Tomorrow Forever

The Paired Peony Ketubah

Photo: Courtesy of Today Tomorrow Forever

Floral Circularity Ketubah

Photo: Courtesy of Today Tomorrow Forever

Photo: Courtesy of Today Tomorrow Forever

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