January 29, 2013

Stay on the pursuit

We are all in pursuit of something; we are constantly striving to make our lives more complete, more fulfilling. In 1919, my great grandmother left Ireland and landed on Ellis Island. Her pursuit led to mine today, though I didn’t always know what my pursuit would be.

Growing up I was an artist. I carried my sketchpad around with me at all times, for as long back as I can remember I was drawing. Making art was a hobby, it never occurred to me that the fascination I drew from the things around me could amount to something greater. For college I was on the track to become an art teacher. When that didn’t exactly pan out, I was faced with a huge unknown. What was I about? What was I brought on this earth to do?

With no money and a good buddy, I decided to drive across country to explore local towns, random cities, and meet tons of interesting people along the way to hopefully find my inspiration.

NY is where my heart has always been. The streets, the arts, the people, the music, the history, there is inspiration everywhere. When I returned from my trip, I was lucky to land a junior position in advertising and worked my way up. There was still something missing though. I needed to create something that had greater meaning, something tactile. For fun, I started designing t-shirts for my friends for St Paddy’s Day. The first year I sold about 30, and the second year I sold 60, and the third year around 130. I loved making the shirts, and seeing them worn and enjoyed by people, so I kept doing it. From there, my company, The Pursuit of NY, was born.

The Pursuit of NY is a brand that artistically depicts what New York City embodies. The history and innovations, the hope and the despair, the destruction and the revitalization—all the events that shaped this city into what it is today.

It took about two years to launch the company. With a day job that had long hours, it was a challenge to take on another huge time commitment and potential financial burden. I’ve always been a huge music fan, and around the time I was trying to launch the company, I went to see We Are Augustines at The Living Room in the LES. At the time, the band was once again trying to make it in the NY music scene and along the way was faced with repeated obstacles and hardships. That night, at their first headlining show, they played a phenomenal set and they could feel it.

At the end of the show, before getting off stage, the lead singer said to the crowd “Thank you New York City, thank you for caring about us, thank you. And if you guys have something you’re doing keep going with it, I promise it’ll work out”

Those words hit me hard, and it was at that moment that all my doubts and fears faded away. I knew I was going to make The Pursuit of NY, a reality. If I hadn’t heard those words, I don’t know what I would be doing today, so that is what I want to pass on to you: Do what you love. Don’t be afraid to fail. Just go for it. I promise, it will all work out.


Ryan Brown is the owner and Creative Director behind The Pursuit of NY.

The Pursuit of NY is a Brooklyn based arts company producing t-shirts, prints, and bags. All garments and prints are produced in very limited quantities. Each piece is hand-printed, making every piece unique.