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Daily Inspiration: Meet Andrew Binder

Today we’d like to introduce you to Andrew Binder.

Hi Andrew, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
My love for art and design began at a very young age. When I was around 7 or 8, I immersed myself in the world of comic books. I was amazed at the incredible visual artwork in mid 90s Marvel comics and developed a love for artists like Jim Lee (X-Men) and John Romita Jr (Spider Man). It wasn’t long before I began crafting my own comic books and selling them for a nickel a piece in front of my parent’s house.

As I grew into my teenage years, my love for art began to intersect with another growing passion, music. I started my first band when I was a freshman in high school and was always creating concert flyers and album artwork to pass out to my friends. In college, I began working within the local St. Louis music scene helping my friends and their bands produce artwork and marketing materials for numerous concerts and small business events. After college, I found several jobs in the design and print industry, from production design to print tech, I enjoyed the experience of working within my chosen field.

At the end of the day, I loved what I was doing but was confident I could be happier focusing more on products and projects I felt passionately about. I found a love for helping people take their ideas and create them from concept to completion, so I struck out on my own and started Icon&Ink. I&I was an outlet for all of my freelance design projects and was an easy way to spread the word about my work.

Around this time, I also began working with Michael Jones and his record label and studio space called Encapsulated Studios here in Maplewood. What started as a pseudo screen printing and design internship blossomed into a great creative opportunity and working relationship, and I loved working in depth with local music and businesses. In a few short years, we’ve built the small space of Encapsulated into full service and high-quality print shop specializing in all kinds of printing, including water-based and discharge printing. At first, screen printing was a logical way to monetize my design work into a tangible product. But once we immersed ourselves in the process and learned more about the craft, it became a staple of our businesses and has allowed us to reach farther and grow faster than we ever imagined.

I’ve been blessed to work with some truly amazing musicians, businesses and organizations to create some awesome art, promotional materials and apparel. Some of my design and print clients include US Bank, Bud Light, Saint Louis University, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, School of Rock and many more.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Like any creative professional, I’ve had ups and downs finding my place in the industry. My first job out of college was working for a marketing company that put together the grocery ads you receive in your weekly paper. While I was grateful to find a job that was in my field, the production work itself required little creative flair and was very mundane on the day to day. All I really wanted to do was design posters and album artwork for bands, but I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t find enough work to really make a decent living.

It was through this learning process that I realized I needed to be a more versatile designer and make myself more attractive to a broader audience so that I could get to a point where I could pick and choose the work I wanted to take on as a more in-demand designer. I began honing my skills on things like wedding invitation packages, corporate marketing and promotional materials and other projects that weren’t necessarily the subject matter I preferred. But in doing this, I began to meet all kinds of clients and businesses and it opened doors that I might not have come across if I had stayed on the path I was on.

The same can be said for my venture into screen printing. I mean, everyone wears t-shirts. But have you ever really stopped to think how the image gets on your shirt? Once you start to see the process and go through the trials and error, you realize that it is as legitimate a trade as being a carpenter. I am forever grateful that I have been able to work alongside great printers like Michael Jones who runs the print shop with me at Encapsulated. I’ve learned so much in my time working with him and I’m so proud of what we’ve built at our shop.

I have to say though, none of what I’ve been able to accomplish personally or professionally could have been done without the support of my wife, Tina. She’s been my biggest supporter and a true anchor for me throughout my journey starting my business. She was the one who always encouraged me to follow my passion and listen to my gut, and I’m lucky to have such a great companion to back me through all my crazy ideas and ventures!

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I pride myself on being a versatile artist. I’d like to think I can take on any work, any subject matter, for any type of client that comes across my desk and execute it in a way that both satisfies me creatively and completes their vision.

As a designer, my artwork in general tends to be very graphic. My work is influenced heavily by tattoo and skateboard culture. I love using bold and striking colors, crisp and clean illustrations and elements in whatever I do. I think my favorite thing to design is branding logos for businesses, especially mom and pop type places. Often times they will have a logo they’ve used for years and it just looks dated. I love when their face lights up when I take the vibe of whatever they do and represent it visually in a way that grabs your attention or makes their brand feel modern.

As a screen printer, I think I add value in the fact that I’m also a designer. Throughout the process of creating their apparel, I am able to help them through the lens of a designer. Often times I can present options and techniques that can help them achieve a certain look while helping them stay on budget. Like maybe using the garment color as an additional color in the design and other things that might prove useful to the end product.

Are there any important lessons you’ve learned that you can share with us?
The two most important lessons I’ve learned is to be as well-rounded at your craft as you can and build as many relationships as you can. Don’t box yourself in and execute only one style well or service only one type of client or industry. I’ve heard it a million times, but it really is who you know and not what you know. Some of my biggest clients and most prestigious projects have come to fruition in a random conversation or over a beer at a bar after work. You never know who the person you’re talking to knows and who they know and so on.

Oh yeah, and always keep plenty of business cards on you at all times!

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