Drawing inspiration from westerns and heroic adventures to Zorro and even Mr. Rogers, Ryan Lynch embarked on his own creative endeavor earlier in 2016. In an effort to help bring more personal satisfaction and artistic fulfillment into his life, Ryan decided to move forward by creating a brand name that would work as a home for all his personal project. Thus, Outrider Design, “Gear for Adventures” was born. The design shop features anything a questing renegade would need like button packs, bottle openers and koozies, or even a mug to help burn the midnight oil.
Outrider began in the summer of 2016 and less than a year later the shop has multiple products that all have the desperado flair that makes Ryan’s goods so unique. As a full-time Art Director, father, and member of the band Archie Powell & The Exports, we wanted to know how he executed the creation of his shop and the online branding. We were happy to find out that along with plenty of cups of coffee and Topo Chico, that this was a passion project of his that he’d been inspired to begin for a while.
What motivated you to decide to open up a self-branded shop, on top of a full-time gig and an active family life?
I’ve been working professionally as a designer and art director for over 7 years, specializing in branding and packaging design. Outside of the agency world, I honed my personal style and found satisfaction doing freelance projects for small businesses, musicians, and other folks who had a unique vision I felt I could bring to life visually.
In the past two years I started to find that juggling my day-to-day agency work along with everything else I wanted to do was getting overwhelming. I couldn’t keep pace with what I wanted to be doing on my commissions. Projects were taking way too long and all the extra work I was doing was bringing more stress than satisfaction. I still had the desire to create art, and bring to life all the ideas that I had, but it needed to be on my terms to be sustainable.
Maybe it goes back to my background in drawing and painting, but I felt if I was going to keep myself inspired and engaged I’d need to create a brand as a personal artistic statement. I can be my own client and my own critic. The independence and inspiration have been insanely satisfying.
Do you remember your earliest creating memory?
I grew up in Saint Francis, Wisconsin, right next to the Bay View area of Milwaukee. I lived with my mom, dad, younger brother and my grandparents on my mom’s side in a crazy old house. I think it was built in 1905. It had a lot of quirks and was filled with generations of family relics and always felt pretty magical. I was brought up surrounded by people who enjoyed creating.
My grandpa that lived with us was a machinist and I remember being obsessed with all of his notebooks, drafting equipment, pens, and erasers he had around his office that I used to steal. In addition to that, my grandmother on my dad’s side was an artist so she always had plenty of little art projects for me to do when I visited. I’ve always loved that kind of stuff. I would staple little books together and try and re-create the grail diary from Indiana Jones. I also remember being about 9 or 10 and taking a sketchbook on a family road trip. I found it recently and it’s filled with little colored pencil logos that i’d invent for the different national parks and forests we visited. It’s pretty adorable.
Did you go to school for design? What was your experience during and now after having a degree?
I went to school at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. I studied drawing and painting, not design per se. I think the main thing I learned from my classes was how to talk about my own work and other people’s work in a group critique setting. Those are skills I still use all the time. I spent a ton of time on the side teaching myself design software and working independently. I kept constant watch on the campus job board and was able to snatch up anything art-related—making flyers for campus organizations, doing some illustrations for startups, political cartoons for the student paper, and scientific illustrations and infographics. I even got a job designing patterns for a company that made special wood jewelry boxes for wooden watches . Anything and everything I could find.
I found out right away that collaborating with the people you meet and your portfolio of work matters so much more than the degree. On top of the inspiration and artistic skills in the studio, my school experience was worth it for the people I’ve met and the opportunities I’ve found by making things with like-minded people.
Walk me through the process of how you are building your personal brand into what it is today.
The goal of Outrider is to take the visual language of an old “Roy Rogers Junior Deputy” brand of fan club fantasy and subvert it. I’ve definitely been inspired by the sense of discovery so present in old pulp heroes like “The Lone Ranger” or “Zorro“, but I wanted to strip away the machismo and traditional sense of what a hero might be. Outrider is meant to be a sort of Boy Scouts for grown ups who do what they want. Rather than earning badges for memorizing oaths or lighting fires, you can give yourself a badge for being you.
It’s kind of a “Mr. Rogers feel-good” kind of sentiment but I think it’s important. The brand statement for Outrider is “Gear for Adventurers.” Adventure can be sleeping under the stars, it can staying up all night on a project, or raising your kid or busting ass in a kitchen. Hell, adventure can even just be being true to yourself unapologetically.
How do buttons, pins, and bottle openers fit into your brand?
I’ve always loved the idea of keeping a little treasure box. Small collections of things that may or may not be precious to anyone else but are precious to you. Buttons and pins and keychains and bottle openers are small and ephemeral but, when done right, their small size makes them even more special. The fact that you can wear and carry around little bits of art to show off is another amazing thing about this medium. I like to think of the pins I collect as little protective amulets or gris gris or something like that. Even if you don’t go that far, wearing a pin or button around lets you express yourself and how you’re feeling or a certain thing you want to embody on a given day, and I really think people are drawn to that.
What are your 2017 plans for Outrider? Any new products, or shows you’d like to exhibit at?
This year, my plans are pretty general. I want to expand my line of art. I have about 7 million ideas floating around at any given point in time so it’s about finishing and executing the best ones and making them into real objects.
I want to exhibit way more frequently. More so than that, I want to keep meeting people. I’ve met so many kindred spirits in the short time Outrider has been around and everyone has been so cool and supportive and welcoming.
We hope you’re left feeling inspired by Ryan in the quest to create your personal brand. Be sure to keep your eye out on Outrider’s Instagram for any updates on his shows and exhibits, or place your order at his online shop!