After being inspired by other animators, Ryan Gregg wanted to try his hand at creating his own clay characters.
The eighth-grader has been making videos on his YouTube channel, which has amassed just over 2,200 subscribers, for the past year following a viral video of him playing out the “Spongebob Squarepants” theme song.
The video currently sits at 1.4 million views.
“I felt really cool,” he said. “It felt nice to see that my work’s getting out there and people are seeing it.”
“At first it was kind of crazy because he’d spend all of this time in his room, and the sun will be out and the weather’s nice, but then you see the stuff that comes out and see what he’s working on,” said his dad, Thomas.
Ryan said it takes him about an hour to make most characters and at least two weeks to create the episodes. Some of the characters and their plot lines come from his personal life such as a figurine of former Superintendent Bob Fisicaro (of Mantua Schools), or a Captain Canada (spoof of Captain America).
Animators such as the late Will Vinton, Nick Park who did the famous “Wallace and Gromit” series and a YouTuber Alan Becker were some of Ryan’s biggest inspirations. He hopes to provide inspiration to others to create their own claymation videos.
Ryan said there aren’t many opportunities at the middle school for him to further develop his hobby other than an art club, and he is actively seeking to enter GCIT’s competitive digital media academic program.
“It’s interesting because it’s such a unique hobby,” said Thomas. “To have him talk about doing it forever, as far as going to college for it and furthering his education in it, and just getting better is great.”
He added Ryan’s hobby is “low-cost” being that the clay he uses ranges from $15 to $20, and the app he uses to create the videos is roughly $4.
Since his first character, Ryan has made alterations in how he physically keeps them standing after a number of them started to fall apart.
“I came up with this thing where I’d put in a Q-Tip in its back, but it was too short,” said Ryan. “So I got my dad to give me a few coffee stirrers, and I can cut them up for the height.”
While this is his hobby, Ryan said he will sometimes use his skills for class projects. He recalled when his group in a science class had to create a diorama, and he volunteered to create a clay volcano and its backdrop.
Ryan admitted his favorite part of this hobby is creating the characters, some of which don’t make it into videos such as “Count Chocula.”
“It’s probably pretty relaxing and therapeutic for him,” said Thomas. “He can be involved as much or as little as he wants, he’s only 14 and has a ways to go. We seek to nurture it and help him grow and support his hobby.”
“I’ll draw something and it’s very cool and nice to breathe life what looks like a lifeless lump of clay,” said Ryan.
Ryan’s YouTube channel can be found by searching “Classy Star” in the search box and selecting “channels.”