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Life & Work with Ryan Brand

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ryan Brand.

Hi Ryan, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
Growing up, I was always a bit of a creative and quite observant. I loved skateboarding, hip hop, punk rock, and the cultures that evolved from them. In 1999, when I was 20, I started working for a large industrial supply company. In 2011, while still working for the supply company, I learned the screen printing process and started a small print company with some friends, printing part-time.

After a couple of years, that company dissolved, but I kept most of the equipment and got set up again. From there, I just printed every so often for extra cash. Then in 2018, the supply company I was working for enacted a national layoff, and I was a part of that. Feeling chewed up and spit out that pushed me to work for myself and that is when I started my current screen print company, Lock & Key Creative. At this point, I had already been wanting to create a brand, and since I was printing again, it was only a matter of time before Observer would materialize. Inspiration for the brand comes from the observation of black holes and the correlation of that to the observations of life. Memories or inspirations that are forever frozen in time at your own personal event horizon, whatever they may be.

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?
The road has had plenty of bumps, and there have been plenty of struggles. The biggest struggle is being a one-man show. Being a husband and father of two boys, 12 and 7, printing full time and growing the brand, time is tight. And because all of Observer’s printed goods are printed in-house by yours truly, I don’t get to release new Observer goods as often as I would like.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I am a screen printer and designer. I specialize in retail quality hand screen printed apparel and graphic design services. What I believe sets my work apart from others is the print quality, my attention to detail, and original ideas. Sketchy prints do not leave my shop. I obsess over print quality and am always looking to improve. One thing I love about the job is being able to experiment with new print techniques and printing on new substrates. A favorite of mine is printing on slipmats for DJs and Skratch heads. I will be adding vinyl sticker and flatstock/paper printing, all printed by hand, in the not so distant future. That includes all new stickers and art prints for Observer as well.

Have you learned any interesting or important lessons due to the Covid-19 Crisis?
Yeah, for sure. The pandemic taught me to be ready to adapt at any given moment. When it all started, printers everywhere had to adapt to the loss of jobs that were cancelled, the lack of inventory of blank apparel, as well as figure out quickly how to print face masks to meet the demand at the time. This also meant less pop-up shops and other ways to get the brand and ideas in front of the people. Growing a brand like Observer has proven to take time. Luckily, since its launch, I have met other designers and artists who have been helpful in exposing Observer. It’s been great to meet other like-minded people, share ideas and techniques. I do not release new goods as often as I would like, but I will keep pushing. Keep dropping new goods. Pandemic or not, observer will keep producing wearables and tools for life’s observations.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Alicia Brand Ryan Brand

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