Artists Work “Side by Side”

Zain met with Ryan Finley and his daughter, Keira, in Lakewood, Ohio, to talk about the Finleys’ Beck Center exhibit.

Ryan Finley is a sketch card artist for Topps and a visual arts instructor at Beck Center for the Arts in Lakewood, Ohio. Finley and his 10-year-old daughter, Keira, recently showcased their artistic talents at a Beck Center exhibit. “Side by Side: The Art of Ryan and Keira Finley” includes the pair’s artistic interpretations of the same characters and scenes. 

I first met the Finleys when I was a student in Ryan’s cartooning class. Keira, now a fourth grader, has been creating art since she was a toddler. “She was always next to me, lying on the ground drawing,” Finley recalled.

Keira’s passion for art continued, and she became a student in Finley’s class at Beck. The best part of “Side by Side,” Keira said, was having friends and classmates come to see the exhibit: “I loved walking around with my dad and talking to everybody.” 

Keira told local news outlets that she would love art even if her dad had a different career. “If my dad wasn’t an artist,” she said, “I would still probably be doing this.” 


Ryan and Keira Finley have been creating art together since she was a toddler. 


Finley’s interest in art also began in childhood. “I would always be drawing when I wasn’t supposed to be,” he told me. “I’d get notes all the time saying, ‘You need to focus more on your work.’”

That passion never left him. “In high school, I took every [art] class you could possibly take,” he said.

Before becoming a Star Wars sketch artist for Topps, Finley had other jobs, including working as a tattoo artist. When asked what he liked best about his job, Finley didn’t hesitate. “Definitely the art show I just had with Keira,” he said. “It’s hard to even put into words. It’s pretty touching.”

Finley also loves working with students. “I do my best to make sure they’re having fun with what they’re doing,” he said. “My favorite part is definitely seeing the growth of students.”

Top photo courtesy of the author; bottom photo courtesy of Ryan Finley