Ryden is the son of Barbara and Keith Ryden, born in Medford, Oregon  but raised in Southern California, in cities likeEscondido. He has two sisters and two brothers, one a fellow artist named Keyth Ryden. Ryden studied illustration and graduated from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, in 1987. His solo debut show entitled "The Meat Show" was in Pasadena, California in 1998. He currently lives and works in Eagle Rock, California, in a studio that he shares with his wife, artist Marion Peck. He has two children, Rosie and Jasper.
Ryden has designed album covers for musicians including Michael Jackson, Ringo Starr, Jack Off Jill, Scarling, Screaming Trees and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and collaborated with composers Stan Ridgway (Wall of Voodoo) and Pietra Wexstun for Music for his 2003 "Blood" show.
Ryden’s work has been exhibited in museums and galleries worldwide, including a recent museum retrospective “Wondertoonel” at the Frye Museum of Art in Seattle and Pasadena Museum of California Art. 
Ryden's The Tree Show exhibit in March 2007 at the Michael Kohn gallery in Los Angeles featured oil paintings and sculptures. The largest of the paintings, "The Tree of Life," sold for $800,000 before the exhibit opened.
Kirk Hammett of the heavy metal band Metallica recently commissioned Mark Ryden to paint one of his guitars. Hammett is pictured holding the guitar on the cover of "Guitar World's April 2009 issue.
On October 24, 2009 Ryden married long time partner Marion Peck in the woods of the Pacific Northwest Rainforest.