Columbus-based graphic artist Brandon Rike is proof that dream jobs do exist. In Rike's case, they're built one project at a time.
Columbus-based graphic artist Brandon Rike is proof that dream jobs do exist. In Rike's case, they're built one project at a time. Throughout his career (which started at 13 designing posters, stickers and T-shirts for his band), Rike has designed T-shirts and posters for some of the music industry's top acts. But even with his star-studded client list that includes Weezer, Paramour and 30 Seconds To Mars, Rike said his greatest accomplishment was the elbow grease that allowed him to have a client list at all. As Rike and his wife prepare to move into the Hoover Reservoir dream house his artwork helped purchase, Alive sat down with him to talk about the Dayton-area transplant's formula for success when it comes to doing what you love.
I knew from a young age I had to do art for a living; I never really had a choice. As a little kid I actually stated, "I'm going to be an artist when I grow up," and that was it. I never thought about, "What can I do to make a lot of money?" It was always, "What is the next step to make money with my artwork?" Luckily, my parents were always looking out for opportunities to allow me to be passionate about art. They weren't trying to lead me to another career path; I think they were trying to keep my soul from being killed.
I saw an opportunity to be a professional artist, and I jumped on it. I started designing seriously when I was 13 for my band. At 16, we started getting interest from record labels. The design work created itself from there. Before I had to worry about providing for myself, I was building a portfolio; it was a cool overlap between the music and my career in design. It got to the point I was making more money designing stuff for other bands, so I decided to leave the band. Designing full-time is what I wanted all along.
I wish I could tell my 15-year-old self one day I'd be designing T-shirts for my favorite bands. I want to tell him that I get to design T-shirts for Weezer and Green Day - these bands that shaped me growing up. I used to salivate over getting a Deftones T-shirt, and now I make that stuff for other fans, which is really cool. I try to be good about putting everything in perspective and realize how lucky I am to do what I love. I have these moments of awe sometimes, and I try to hang on to those moments so I can convince myself my life is amazing even if I'm not having a great day.
When I'm asked, "Why live in Columbus," my response is, "Why not?" I moved to Columbus because it's a more interesting and progressive city than my hometown of Dayton. Dayton is a manufacturing town, which can be a real bummer. I feel Columbus has become an artistic city because people graduate from college with really great ideas, and some of them actually [carry the ideas out]. In Columbus, there is positivity and hope - we might be a little idealistic, but at least there are ideas. In New York, everybody wants to impress you. In the Midwest, we just want to work really hard and do cool things.
Find out what you obsess over, and find out how to make a living out of that obsession. We obsess about things when we are younger, but at some point we get told to move on to something more responsible. I never thought that my artistic talent was something I'd grow out of; art was something I wanted to do all the time. My greatest accomplishment is making a living by doing what I love to do. I may not necessarily be the best artist, but I work hard. A lot of artists are so proud of how artistic they are; they don't think they have to work very hard. I knew if I wanted to make a living out of this, I had to hustle and find a niche.
If I was going to hang something on a wall it would be a picture of me and my wife in front of the house we bought with freaking T-shirt designs. Some artists believe designing T-shirts is below them - and that's fine because I have no problem doing it. My job is to meet deadlines and do good work, not impress everybody with how artistic I am.
Photo by Meghan Ralston