Good Reviews

The first week of my online class on Lettering has been great. Lots of students submitting great work, and giving great feedback. If you haven’t checked it out, take a look at Lettering Made Simple: Efficient Methods for Custom Type.

My main goal in the class is to help designers to not be intimidated by lettering projects. There is a vast world of lettering styles, and you can use simple methods to help you find your unique aesthetic.

Here is some of the feedback of from the course:

“This class is great for anyone who wants to learn more about type and manipulating an existing font. It is also perfect for beginners and professionals. I know personally from working in the field of merch design that Brandon Rike is in a class of his own amongst designers, and this class helps prove that. I believe you can always learn something new and after taking this class I can honestly say that I learned several new things. I look forward to learning much more from Brandon Rike in his future classes if he chooses to do more!
Corey Thomas

Continue reading 

Opinions on a Career In Graphic Design

A few months ago, a high school senior, Samantha Cleveland, sent me a list of interview questions. Samantha is interested in a career in graphic design, and I answered as honestly as I could. I wrote quite a bit, so I figured that I would share. Enjoy.

Why did you decide on a career in graphic design?

I can’t recall any moment when I made a “decision” to have a career in graphic design. My parents recognized that I was artistic as soon as I was old enough to color and draw. Art was just always “my thing,” and it was only natural for me to assume that I would be an artist for the rest of my life. I think we often get side-tracked into thinking that we need to pursue the occupation that makes us the most money. I got good grades in school, and I knew there was an option to pursue a career in something like medicine, or law, or those other seemingly high-paying careers. But those options were never really options for me. I viewed them as boring, and I viewed art as fun. So I naturally kept art as my main priority, and always have. I think part of our purpose is to spend our time doing what we are best at. I was lucky that I found a way to make a living at doing art projects all day. Continue reading 

My Skillshare Lettering Class

I had a blast on my first Skillshare class, and I was happy to put together a new one. Today I’m launching a new class entitled “Lettering Made Simple: Efficient Methods for Custom Type”


My class will roll out with the new Skillshare Subscription Model. This means that you can now purchase a subscription to Skillshare for $10/month, and gain access to their entire library of 150+ classes.

So you have the option to buy the class a la carte for $19, or get a membership for $10/month.

My class teaches you efficient methods to create beautiful lettering pieces. The reality of a the fast-paced design world of insane deadlines is that we need to make good work, and good work quickly. I take use of the resources available, including Lost Type Co-Op, and show you the steps to creating great work.

So, please do me the huge favor of enrolling in my class, and starting your Skillshare subscription today! Go check it out!

Simplicity Tee

I used the phrase “Simplicity Takes Courage” in a recent talk. The fine folks at Cotton Bureau have printed it on a t-shirt. Buy one for you and your boo, or your bae, or whatever you call that other person you hang out with. Only available until March 20th. Act quick!
Buy the shirt at Cotton Bureau>>

Class is Open!

Today is a big day for me. I’ve worked very hard on putting together a Skillshare class to show people my real process and workflow for making band tees.

Enroll in the class!Class Announcement

It was a lot of fun putting this together. I sit down with Tyler Joseph, from the band Twenty One Pilots, and hear his direction for the merchandise. You get to watch my entire process, including the interview, brainstorming, sketches, Illustrator, Photoshop, and mock ups. I talk you along the entire process.

I’m so happy with how it turned out. Do me a huge favor, and use this link to spread the word!


My Skillshare Class

Skillshare Class

Skillshare came to me recently, asking if I was interested in teaching an online course with them. After trying my hand at a few process videos, here and there, this looked like the perfect chance to put something together that showed my honest process for most of the band tees that I create.

One of the bands that I design for, Twenty One Pilots, offered to get involved, and take part in a real-life interview. I’m pretty stoked with how it all turned out.

You can enroll in the Skillshare class here:

Please spread the word!

My talk from WMC Fest

WMC fest recently posted the video from a talk I did in August. Check it out here.


Balance, Challenges, and Happiness

Two media outlets caught up with me last week – both inquiring about similar topics.

I sat down over Google Hangout with Joel Beukelman and Aaron Irizarry of The Blnce Podcast. They referenced my previous article, “Lessons Of The Grind,” and good conversation followed. Take a listen here.

Also, Heather Sakai at Go Media asked me to contribute to her article over at GoMediaZine on “My Biggest Challenge Running A Design Business” Below was my response:

The biggest problem that I have running my freelance operation is maintaining a balance with my social life, and happiness level in general. We assume, early on, that if we work hard enough, we can achieve a certain level of success. It is also our assumption that that level of success will bring us a wealth of happiness.

It doesn’t.

Achievement of our goals only prompts us to set a new goal, instead of taking any time to enjoy reaching a milestone. After doing freelance design for over a decade, I have set goals and achieved them – only to set a higher goal for the following year, and thus put myself right back to the grind – glossing over any chance to pat myself on the back.

It’s possible that continued success in a creative field has an adverse reaction to one’s happiness. Being creative all day, every day, gets more and more taxing. The well of ideas threatens to dry up, and we put more and more pressure on ourselves to stay afloat. The quest for “better” is admirable, but also tortuous.

This grind keeps me in my cave, churning out work, giving myself little to no interaction with the outside world. More success, for me, has led to a very reclusive lifestyle. On paper, I’m experiencing the most successful time of my life – in reality, I can’t remember the last time I sat down with a friend for coffee.

The solution? Move happiness to first on your priority list. Meeting with people you enjoy or doing things you love can put you in a positive frame of mind that’s more equipped with managing a heavy workload. This positive outlook instantly manages stress better, and is more effective at calculating an otherwise chaotic and overwhelming to-do list.

Days may look less like a row of fires to put out, and more like the privilege that we began these careers with – that, while others toil through jobs that they hate, we get to be creative for a living.

Lessons Of The Grind

After doing consistent design work for over a decade, I’ve observed many phases of the career. I’ve also come to my own conclusions and basic philosophy, that I’ve also watched evolve over time. Anything that I thought I knew would soon be replaced by a new perspective. So, as firm as I may hold on to my ideals, I also realize how fleeting they are, and that my stance, however solid, is only temporary.

This year, 2013, has been the most transitional year of my life. The hurdles I’ve jumped through for the past eight months have tested every aspect of my personality, and more specifically, how I manage to complete my work.

I could bore you with all of the details in another post. Since the general tone of this blog is design-oriented, I’ll leave the specifics out. The paraphrased version of my year is this:

I started the year, in January, with a goal to put my head down, and to take on and complete as much work as I possibly could. I wanted to stretch myself to the limit, in hopes of pushing that limit – getting out of the year more capable than I began it. That was my only focus. Simple.

In the third week of January, my wife and I found a “dream property” that we could only wish for. Every thing we had hoped that our life could be someday seemed possible on this ten-acre piece of land near our town. However, if we were going to buy this property, we would have to act quickly. So we pulled every string we could to be able to make an offer on the property, but we would have to keep our current house in the mean-time. January is not a good time to put your house on the market.

Our predicament would be to buy the new property, and lock that down. Then, we would move on to getting our current house up for sale. To make matters even more complicated, we would plan an extensive renovation to the small house on the new property — a renovation that we, working from home, would not be able to live through. The only option: move into an apartment during the renovation.

In nailing everything down, in the months of May, June, and July, I found myself with a mortgage payment for our current house, a mortgage payment for the new property, and a lease for the apartment for the interim. My monthly bills tripled. All the while, bouncing from bank, to contractor, to architect, to realtor, to radon mitigation, to roofers, to hvac, to… you get the picture. All of this, while still maintaining the hefty work load that I had challenged myself with. This is the type of stress that goes beyond ramming your head through a wall, to a focused effort to keep from spontaneously combusting. If there were ever a time for me to completely explode, it was this past summer.

But after a long ordeal, we sold our house, quickly, for way more than we paid for it. We found a contractor and an architect for the renovation on the new place, and we found an apartment to live in, for the interim. I am currently living and working in the apartment, while I bounce building plans back and forth with the architect and contractor.

For this entire year, I have somehow managed to work 5-6 days a week with the largest work load of my career.

All this, to focus on what I’ve learned through it all…

When the time comes to shut up and get work done, you find out what type of designer you are. Many of us worry about where we stand amongst some design community, some of us want to be the best designer ever, some of us obsess over our Twitter followers or Dribbble likes, and some of us are terrified and unsure of every single decision that we make. This year, I haven’t had the time to ask those questions, or focus on anything else but the work. I’ve had no other choice but to become a machine.

I’ve realized that at the end of the day, if us designers do not have the ability to silence, and grind work out — then the longevity of our careers may hang in the balance.

The idea of being an artist, or the pride we take in being creative means nothing if we cannot back it up with hard work. Pure, gritty, sweaty, work. There is no squeaky-clean suit and tie in my world. My world, the one that has allowed me to make a good living as a freelance artist, is a dirty pair of overalls, one that’s exhausted at the end of the work day.

In time, I’ll learn how to have a great career AND room to breathe, but for the first decade or two of my career, I want to know that I spent it grinding. I want to know that I’m capable of doing an amount of work that others view as impossible. Before I ever put some suit-and-tie on to accept a meaningless award– I want to know that I pushed myself to the limit to get there.

You’re artistic. You’re creative. You’re gifted. Congratulations.

Now, let’s see if you know how to work.

Thread Council

As most of you know, I’ve been designing merch for bands since I was a teenager. I’ve been doing it as an occupation for the past decade. Band merchandise makes up 95% of my work load, and I’ve been extremely proud to make it my focus in my design career. I’ve worked with lots of people throughout my career, and have tried to establish strong, meaningful connections with all of them. My clients are my lifeblood, and I am extremely grateful for them.

While I love what I do, the reality is that I grind out work, all day, 6-7 days a week for some of the biggest bands and artists in the world. When the art files are sent off, that is the last that I see of the project. I don’t see the tees after they are printed, and really have no way of knowing how well the design sells.

Last year, a group of people in San Francisco approached me about their new idea, Thread Council. Their team is comprised of heavy hitters in the online marketing and retail industries. They’re sole purpose was to celebrate artists like me, who create so much art, that so many people see, but hide behind the scenes of a much larger operation. Thread Council wants to provide an outlet for me to have a better connection with the life of the art that I create. This possibility can breathe new life, and rejuvenate my passion for creating apparel graphics. The merchandise industry is built on the backs of artists like me, and they wanted to do good, and show our faces to the world, while offering limited edition t-shirts with our original artwork.

While I always want to create band merchandise, Thread Council has proposed a way for artists like me to see the reach of our artwork. This is a game-changer.

I was flattered and honored. Thread Council wants to applaud the work that goes into shaping a visual culture, and reward the workers grinding out work behind the scenes.

So, before Thread Council officially launches, they’ve put together a beautiful Kickstarter campaign. While the whole campaign is extremely well-done, the rewards are even cooler. From one-on-one design counseling sessions, to you art-directing a design, there are a lot of fun rewards that they’ve packed into the campaign.

If you are a fan of graphic tees in general, now is the chance to get involved with a movement that says thank you to the artists who create this stuff, and to applaud their hard work.

I would be honored for you to be involved. View Thread Council on Kickstarter.