With an enthusiastic email off to our editor a few months ago I suggested doing a piece on who I thought was "Work By Land" based somewhere in the North West. A few months later I've come to know the dynamic design team Caleb Owen Everitt and Ryan Rhodes who together make LAND, who are actually based in Austin, Texas. Being a not-so-secrete admirer of LAND I could not have been happier to grab their ear for a brief moment in their hectic schedules.
This interview first appeared in the October, 2013 issue of Juxtapoz Magazine.
Brent Gentile: Who and what makes LAND?
LAND: Caleb Owen Everitt and myself, Ryan Rhodes.
Where are you living and working right now?
We live in Austin, Texas and work in an old brick warehouse shop on the east side of town near the tracks.
Are you both Texas natives?
Yup, born and bred. Caleb is the Conroe Kid, I came from the Can (Corsicana).
Is LAND your full time job?
Yes. Caleb and I were freelancing for a while on our own and teamed up about a year or so ago. Once we moved into the same space together, we committed fully to making LAND our priority.
Were you guys personal friends prior to teeming up? Or met through the industry? You know what they say about going into business with a friend…
We met years ago while working for the same agency in Austin. We shared a lot of enthusiasm for similar things and it has always been easy getting along together. Birds of a feather. We're not sweating the cliche of friends going into business together, we only push each other with encouragement and positive distractions.
Having worked in the agency life myself it can be rough with late nights, politics, and unreasonable deadlines. Are you happy to be out of it? Are there aspects of it you miss?
It was a great experience to be around so many disciplines and soak up the necessary knowledge to run your own business. But yeah, happy to be out of it and scale things back to a more personal level. We feel fortunate enough to work on projects that we can personally identify with, rather than having little say in what clients you take on.
What does "LAND" mean?
Once we decided to team up, we wanted to come up with a name that was bigger than both of us… something simple that we could live with for a long time. Caleb tossed out LAND and I loved it.
Where do you pull inspiration from?
We're inspired by art and design that existed long before us. We're heavily inspired by more spiritual subjects such as life and death and the symbolism that comes from thinking about it all.
Whats your least favorite and favorite part of designing and creating?
Our favorite part of creating art or design is feeling naive. I think if you feel like you know what you're doing, you may not be doing anything exciting. We enjoy work that can be a sort of adventure for us along the way. Our least favorite part is working with people that make us feel like we have a boss. We'd rather it be a journey through experimentation rather than a formulaic request.
What's the timeline / life like for a design or creation?
Honestly it's different in each case. We've done paintings we're stoked on in just one day, all while branding a restaurant that takes a year. Our ideal situation is to set aside a few days to jam hard on one project and completely submerge ourselves.
Aside from painting and designing is LAND focused on other mediums? Or is it just a free-for-all creative space?
The LAND shop is a place where we can try anything. We're pretty eager to jump into more 3 dimensional work. We've been doing some metal fabrication on our motorcycles, which leads us to try more sculptural work. We've only been in the shop for 8 months now, but it already feels like home.
Does the LAND shop run on a Monday through Friday 9-5 schedule?
We get in the shop around 9, sometimes before. Wake up, leave home, grab a coffee from our friends at Flat Track, shoot the shit, get to the shop, burn some sage, turn on some tunes and get cracking. We'll work later than 5 if we're cruising. Weekends aren't for working, you'll go insane if you work all the time. You gotta keep a balance. And if the river starts callin' your name at 2 in the afternoon…
Where does design end and art begin for you?
To us, design is a solution to a specific problem… So there is inherently a goal in mind from the get go. Art feels a bit more lofty than that for us. Making art doesn't have to necessarily make any sense. Ideally, there is no separation. We prefer to blend that line.
How did you first start getting involved in design?
Drawing naked ladies for a buck in grade school, making zines and lawn service flyers, obsessively drawing and redrawing skateboarding and BMX logos on desks and trapper keepers… I think we were both involved before we knew it was an actual career option.
Were there any other career options for you?
Ranch hand, forest ranger, professional hobo… something more romantic for sure. It's fun to think about what might have been, but we're couldn't be happier doing what we're doing. It's fun as hell.
You guys have worked with some incredible companies, such as Hufnagel Cycles, Patagonia, and Deus Ex Machina, can you talk about the process?
Jordan Hufnagel and Caleb are best friends and have been scheming for a while. It was only a matter of time those dudes made some rad stuff together. Chris Teig from Patagonia hollered at us just by seeing our work on the internet. Same with Deus, Carby Tuckwell hollered at us and we just hit it off. Carby has done such a great job branding Deus as just what it is… fun. They let us run wild and we couldn't be more stoked to work with folks like that. We've been fortunate enough to find, or be found by, clients that trust us.
"Internet famous" is being tossed around an awful lot these days. I think this is sort of colliding with creative people trying to get their work out there. What are your thoughts on "Internet famous"?
We try to stay oblivious to that sort of thing. To be "internet famous" doesn't seem like a thing to be proud of. Fame in general is silly, and a very fleeting thing to aspire to.
Is all the type in your work custom or hand done? Can you talk about this process?
Most of the type we create is hand done or inspired by historical typography. From old books and signs to hobo scribbles, type that was created by a hand or a machine just feels better than a more modern, digital font. It's more fun to create something custom, or that feels like it came from a real place before you and I were born and will be here after we're dead.
Are you simply taking pencil to paper and scanning when creating custom type? Or can it be way more involved?
We definitely don't have one formula, but pen and paper is probably the most used medium around here. We still use the computer a ton to make custom type. Using Illustrator has always been an efficient tool for that sort of work. It just feels better at the end of the day to not sit in front of a screen so we prefer to use our hands whenever we can.
You mentioned earlier that "design is a solution to a specific problem". For me the medium can often present a whole new set of problems. For example designing a skateboard graphic verse something meant for only the web. Do you approach every medium the same?
No. Every project is different and it's best to ignore any preconceived notions of what it "should" look like. It's fun to mix disciplines and mediums. For example, treating a painting as if it were a book layout, or thinking of a sign as sculpture.
Are there any designers and/or artists you look up to?
Beuys, Dali, Picasso, Kilgallen, Dadaist, Goldsworthy, Ruscha, Shinya Kimura, American Type Founders, and too many more to name.