A Visionary in Advertising: Meet Tanya Ryan

If you don’t know who Tanya Ryan is, it is about time for you to network! Hailing from Blooming Prairie, MN, Tanya Ryan is an Associate Professor of Mass Communication at Winona State University. Tanya has a passion for the visual and digital arts like no other and quite a story to share about her journey through the Advertising Industry. HC Winona is honored to get an inside look into her creative lifestyle!

HC (HC Winona): Tell us a little about yourself!

TR (Tanya Ryan): I’m a college professor. I’ve been teaching advertising and communication for 10 years and I live in Winona with my two daughters, our dog, cat, hamster and fish.

HC: What got you into advertising and what has been your journey through advertising? (Tell us your story!)

TR: The first thing I can remember that sparked my interest in advertising is creating fire prevention posters in elementary school. I never won the contest for “best poster,” but I really wanted to win. I wanted to come up with a cool idea. I also remember when MTV launched in the early 1980s. I loved the MTV logo and the colorful patterns and variations of the logo. I remember thinking, “I want to make those cool logos! That would be a sweet job!”  So I guess that’s where it started.

I took a lot of art classes in high school; I think I took every art class that was offered. I also took journalism classes and was on the yearbook and “newspaper” staffs in high school. When it came time to select a college, I wanted to attend a university that had an advertising program because I already knew what I wanted to study. I remember that I had a long list of “requirements” in my college search. Luckily I found a great fit at Winona State.

After I earned my bachelor’s degree I got a job at a Minneapolis newspaper. I worked in the advertising department. I didn’t love it. Six months later I landed a job at an ad agency, Carmichael Lynch. Right then, my world broke open. I was truly in love with the advertising industry and there was no turning back. After a few years at CL, I took a position as a Creative Buyer in the marketing department at Target. I worked on the production of advertising and promotional materials and spent a lot of time on photoshoots. After going back to school for my master’s degree, while working for Target, I left the corporate world and joined academia full time in 2006.    

HC: Do you have any outstanding accomplishments or adventures you would like to share?

TR: Earning my doctorate was a pretty big accomplishment, as was earning tenure at Winona State University. I am proud of both of those accomplishments as I worked very hard to get where I am today.  I am also super proud of my two daughters. I probably shouldn’t claim them as “my accomplishments,” because they are truly their own; however, at this point, since they’re still fairly young, I am pretty proud of how they are turning out and I do give myself a little bit of credit.

I consider my whole life one big adventure! But I guess most of my adventures in the literal sense would be travel adventures. Traveling to foreign countries or new places is always a crazy blast. My trips to Thailand, New Zealand and Spain are probably my biggest adventures and all three occurred during different phases in my life, so that makes each of them pretty special.

HC: What brought you to Winona?

TR: I am a Minnesota girl born and raised. I actually got my undergraduate degree at Winona State University. I picked Winona over other schools because it was the right size and had a program in the field that I wanted to study—ADVERTISING! After completing my undergrad I moved to work and live in Minneapolis. As I advanced in my advertising career, I always had dreams of one day returning to my alma mater to teach. I worked toward that goal a little at a time. As I continued my career in advertising, I pursued a graduate degree. Once that was complete I taught night classes at a Minneapolis college as an adjunct instructor. I kept in touch with my advisor at Winona State and asked for his advice along the way.  One day, after several years, my phone rang. It was my old advisor calling to recruit me for a faculty position at Winona State. I couldn’t believe it! Returning to Winona to teach in a program and a town that I already loved was a no-brainer. I packed up the house and we moved back to Winona.    

HC: Do you have any serious passions outside of advertising?

TR: I have quite a few passions; however, travel, music and art are probably at the top of the list. Whenever I can, I like to get on a plane and experience a new place. I have traveled to ten different countries and twenty-five states. I started planning a year-long “around the world” trip—no date is set for that yet! When it comes to music I am a huge Pearl Jam fan and mostly listen to rock-n-roll. I love going to live shows. I also love to make art (painting, printmaking, and all other media) and I love to look at art too. It makes me happy, and sometimes it makes me sad. I love to feel emotion through art and music.  

I’m also a feminist and a proponent of domestic violence awareness. I have a strong sense of right and wrong, and I stand up for what I believe is right.    

HC: What motivates you?

TR: Pretty simply, I’m motivated by human beings. My daughters, awesome family, amazing friends, colleagues near and far, students, current and former… and even strangers. I see people helping, sharing, struggling, creating, hurting, healing, chasing their dreams, fighting for what they believe in, reaching out for help, and even believing in me… and almost like magic, the fire inside me starts burning a bit brighter. There are a lot great people in this world and they make me want to be one of them.

In addition to people, music is a huge motivator for me. Music can be magical.

HC: What is your best piece of advice to a soon-to-be graduating college senior?

TR: My advice is to work hard and be brave. Go after your heart’s desire, but be smart about it.

“So we shall let the reader answer this question for herself: who is the happier woman, she who has braved the storm of life and lived or she who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?” – Hunter S. Thompson (adapted)    

HC: This or that!


Coke or Pepsi? COKE

Old Treasures or New Treasures? NEW TREASURES

Facebook or Twitter? FACEBOOK

Pancakes or Waffles? PANCAKES with blueberries

Tea or Coffee? COFFEE