Craftin' Outlaws: Bandito Design Co.

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Local collective mixes equal parts good times and good design

When Ryan Brinkerhoff and Richard Lane were picking a name for their design collective, they came up with several options - hoodlum, bandit, gangsta. They wanted something with a Western feel that conjured imagery of them riding into the scene wielding glue guns and screen-printing squeegees, saving the world one art print at a time.

The winning title: Bandito Design Co.

The local collective is best described as fun, the work best described as a mental break from 9-to-5 jobs in various creative professional fields. And Bandito is one of more than 50 vendors selling artwork this weekend at Craftin' Outlaws, an alternative craft fair best described as badass.

In fact, Craftin' Outlaws is to thank for the inception of the Banditos. At the 2008 fair at BoMa, Brinkerhoff and Lane competed in the Craft Corner Deathmatch - a battle where teams of two are given supplies and asked to create certain products.

Pairs go head to head, and the losing design's team is chopped from the game until there's only one pair left. During their first attempt, Brinkerhoff and Lane nearly won but were disqualified in the final round for making a bag instead of an article of clothing.

"But we were crowd pleasers and the judges loved us," Brinkerhoff said. More importantly, they learned they had a blast working together and noted that they could be doing that as vendors.

"We were like, 'Man, these guys are making a killing,'" Brinkerhoff said.

It was about more than the money, though. Lane describes Columbus as "the little forgotten city of design." The two wanted to become a part of that close-knit community.

"The goal is for it to be fun," Lane said, "something that is an escape from what we do at work." A place to let their creative juices flow uninhibited and sans a time crunch.

Two designer friends - Chris Barr and Rick Hagee - and one fantastic staff photo later, the Banditos had just that.

The four create mostly screened art and gig posters, and they also sell cards, shirts and totes. Each designer has their own style - Brinkerhoff's is clean and uses modern graphics, Lane's is more Victorian, steampunk.

The atmosphere of their business is laid-back. If a Bandito wants to hang his design holster up for a bit, that's fine. They sell their work on and they've had success using social media and user-generated design sites like NotCot and FFFFound.

"Ryan is the heart and soul of the collective," Lane said. Brinkerhoff's apartment is the "studio," a place where the designs are screened, a laborious task that usually involves a little horseplay and a lot of music.

The collective aims to have fun, and that's echoed in the tinges of humor in their art - one of their most popular prints is a Brinkerhoff creation of a girl in roller skates with the copy "They see me rollin'. They hatin'."

As for whether they'll compete in the Deathmatch at this year's Craftin' Outlaws, the two are undecided. They won last year's competition and "want to go out on top," they joked

Bandito Design Co.