Freshly Laundered 001 / Ryan Hamrick

Since Cotton Bureau opened our doors a little over a year ago, letterer and designer (and our good friend) Ryan Hamrick has quickly become one of our most prolific designers. In the past twelve months he’s had six different tees for sale on the site, with five of them successfully going to print. We chatted with Ryan briefly last week to get the inside scoop on his new adventure in Austin and what keeps him going while he’s hard at work. Interview after the break.


CB: How’s life in Austin?

RH: Austin has been really great so far! There are so many new and different things to do here, especially for families with kids. Our nine and six year-old have both found great new friends right on our street, and are having a blast at summer camp.

For me, it’s been great to be able to slowly get around and start meeting some of the people I’ve known and talked to for so long now online, and start forming actual IRL friendships. And thanks mostly to a three-week snafu with the moving company, I’m finally starting to catch up on my client work, or at least getting close, so that’s good.

Also, I’m excited to officially kick off work this week with my first local Austin client for a project that will be 1) awesome, and 2) belt-buckle related.


CB: Wow, belt buckles?! That’s going to be really amazing! We’ve seen your work on all types of surfaces: paper, t-shirts, glassware, web, bricks, even the grille of your car. Is there a surface/texture you haven’t worked with yet that you’re itching to try? What has been your favorite so far?

RH: I actually have a few fire-based ideas I’m just dying to try as soon as I can figure out the best way to not die trying them. Without giving too much away, think “fire-retardant masking fluid”.

I think my favorite is still, and will probably always be, paper. There’s just something about being able to grab a sheet and instantly turn an idea into something real.


CB: Don’t stand too close to the flames! Where do you find inspiration for your personal work (i.e., not client based)?

RH: I feel like I hardly ever have time for personal work, at least not as much time as I’d like. Whenever I do get a second (or steal a couple from what should probably be a client’s time) to throw together a Cotton Bureau shirt or something, I guess a lot of my inspiration usually comes from the steady stream of shitty “dad jokes” running through my head at any given time, from punny clocks that read “Time to Kill”, to black-on-black shirts that reference other black shirts. That’s always great, because it’s a way for me to turn those corny ideas into something real that I can share with other people that can appreciate it, too. Then, when no one buys them, it’s a powerful ego check and reminder that I’m not as funny as I tend to think I am.

Aside from that, I suppose a good deal of my inspiration comes from music. I’ve found very few things in my life that really trigger emotion and feelings in me in quite the same way music does. Whether I’m feeling particularly productive on a certain day, or inspired, or lazy, or whatever, I can almost always link it to what I’m listening to. It’s like my mind goes on little mini trips to these wonderful and sometimes strange places through the course of each day’s soundtrack. Sometimes it comes back with some cool-ass souvenirs.


CB: Music is definitely a great source of inspiration and we think you’re funnier than you give yourself credit for. To finish up, who are you listening to lately?

RH: Oh man, I’m definitely a hip-hop kid, so I’ve always got some of the classics in the rotation. Can’t make myself get into a lot of the newer stuff that’s coming out these days, probably because I know I could rap better than most of them (seriously, next time we’re out, catch me after a couple Old Fashioneds, and I’ll drop bars).

So instead, there’s actually a German rapper named Cro that I listen to a lot. I can’t even understand 99% of the lyrics, so maybe they’re shit, but I find I can groove to him far easier than half the bullshit American artists out right now.

Aside from that, I play a lot of hip-hop-vibe electronic music and if there’s a female lead singer, even better. Current faves are Geographer, Sylvan Esso, Poliçia, Vacationer, Elliphant…I know I listen to so many more too, but I’m like varied to the point of forgetting what I even listen to. Thanks, Rdio.


If you liked this interview, check back for more in our Freshly Laundered series. Thanks to Ryan Hamrick for being the first in what we hope is a weekly spotlight on the designers keeping us up to our ears in well-designed tees.