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Profile: Ryan Upchurch from backflips to graphics

Profile: Ryan Upchurch from backflips to graphics

 You have seen his graphics Ryan Upchurch, , guarantee! Through Edge Brand Agency, Ryan has accumulated an impressive portfolio of clients, in and out of the scoot industry, including Scoot Trade.

We asked Ryan a few questions about his career both as a pro rider and a graphic designer, as well as his view on the industry and its future.

Ryan Upchirch
When & how did you get into scootering?
I got into scootering around 2006, when I was skateboarding at a local skatepark, and a friend of a friend showed up with some of the original SR forks, and a bolted foldy. I never knew people did tricks on scooters, so I tried it out after a friend introduced me. I had so much fun I bought a Razor A-Model from Wal-Mart within a few days, with the proceeds from cutting lawns in the neighborhood. I was sending it on the halfpipe a few feet over coping with that shaky scooter shortly after, and never looked back; I knew what it felt like to fly!

Your top riding moments?
My favorite riding moments are definitely sticking the tricks that gave me a battle or I had dreamed about doing for a long time. My number 1 moment has to be my front flip over Travis Pastrana's backyard mega ramp around 2010 or 2011, when Nitro Circus was in its early years, and no other scooter rider had ever sent it on his mega ramp. I went to ride for a normal session with a BMX friend, Mike Fede, at Travis' place, and was invited back only if I would send it over the mega ramp for the ESPN cameras the next day. I had never ridden a mega ramp, and surely not one with almost a 50ft gap and terrible run up. Long story short, I sent it, and rode away with life feeling a bit like a dream. I got to impress a hero of mine I used to watch on TV pushing the limits on XGames and was even considered to be a part of the shows but was still in school at the time. Shortly after, they were willing to add scooters and RWilly got the spot-on tour. In some ways, I like to think I helped make the push that opened what is now the greatest mainstream coverage of scooters and can't think of a better representation of our sport than RWilly!

Ryan boosting
Your top pro rider moments?
I have always been more a "video rider", so my top moments were mainly landing tricks that had never been done, meeting inspirations, or landing jobs with sponsors that helped shape me into the person I am today. Meeting Tyler Bonner and other pros I watched online during my first trip to a major scooter event; Xtreme Wheels 4 in Buffalo New York. Getting to take photos with Martin Kimbell, one of the top OG riders that I was watching before I could tailwhip and impressing him with my riding. Getting sponsored by local shop ECX, then Eagle Sport, District, Skate Hut, Blunt/Envy, Grit, and last sponsor I worked with was The Vault Pro Scooters. Being able to host scooter camps, act as a mentor, and do public talks at local schools about following my dreams was also has a special place in my memories. Also getting the opportunity to travel and see parts of the world I would have never imagined was something that I think on often, have integrated to my life, and cherish.

Ryan's Scoot Mag cover
Your best designer experiences?
My best designer experiences are hard to choose; I enjoy all of them for reasons unique to each project, but I particularly love working with riders to create their signature designs, because they mean so much to the rider and their fanbase when done well. Two of my favorite signature designs up to this point, are the Kai Saunders V1 Native Deck, and the Lucky Scooters JMG "Lion" signature designs because I got to create and collaborate on designs for guys that grew up around me, and watched as they both grew into top pro riders living out their dreams. On top of this, both designs greatly pushed my design styles and direction. For the JMG Lion, I had the opportunity to collaborate with artist Dody Hermasyh (insta: @hipedynamite). I also find projects that I work on that go to "Big Box" stores are always fun too, because I can tell family and friends to check out the designs while they're walking around stores near them, since they rarely get to see what I work on. (Stores like Toys 'R Us, Target, Walmart, etc.)

JMG's Signature
Which brands or designers are you looking for inspirations?
For me, I am looking outside of scootering for inspiration most of the time as design is not something that is really at the forefront of scootering at the moment. I am looking to those doing some of the best work out there in corporate America, independent designers, creative agencies, and more as I push forward in my career of business, strategy, and design. I am a big fan of Lincoln Design Co., Brethren Design Co., Fried Design Co, as well as other full-service agencies that are creating work for some of the top lifestyle and professional brands in the world. And when looking at work for inspiration, it's not so much the concepts I am looking for, but the design treatments, how certain elements create emphasis, or other unique details that help me in my design process, tools used, and drawing skills as an artist.

Saundezy Signature
Outside riding or designing?
These days I am inside designing most of the time and loving it! For me, there's something special about seeing a client's face light up, when they see what I see; the value in good planning, sharp strategy, and dressed up with great aesthetics. The feeling of realizing it's not just about looking good but making a difference that can impact the quality of life for clients/partners I work with.

Edge Portfolio
How would you describe the scoot industry?
I would describe the scoot industry as a pool of potential, that is coming of age. Our industry has seen many ups and downs over the years, but to me, it feels like we are finally maturing as a community, as we reach inflection points, and our community grows and matures. The ability to work together to get things done, increases all the time, whether the sales are up or not; we are growing in number! After taking a step back from my rider roles, and gaining some perspective with distance from the industry, I also see room for brands, and shops to do more together in time, in order to make our community even more memorable to be a part of. We have ebb'd and flowed, but the future is bright for those willing to put the work in.

What do you think is needed for the industry and the sport to grow?
I think the top thing needed for our sport and industry to grow is time! Like a tree, wishing for the fruit is not a wise task, haha! If there are a few specifics I could point to, it would be better execution of business ambitions by having clear boundaries and processes that allow scooter businesses greater scale, flexibility and resilience.

With many in the industry are so impassioned, it is often difficult to look at their own brand or shop strictly from a business perspective, unless the numbers apply pressure or force them to. If we can be proactive and integrate core business functions and communications in more of a systematic process, I think scooter shops, brands, and related businesses could position themselves much better financially, and gain momentum in time.

Just because we enjoy something, doesn't mean we can't apply or be inspired by traditional business skills and formal boundaries. I think as a sport of impassioned individuals that generally have a general disdain for "traditional office jobs", I think many of the businesses fail to take advantage or learn some of the key skills from the wider business world that could change their operations for the better.

Ryan loves big air
Anything else?
Just to say that anything is possible with the right mindset and persistent effort. To remember why we do what we do at the beginning of each day and try to serve your community first and foremost. Thanks to the scooter community for all the amazing experiences and lessons for me to grow over the years; now I'm grateful to be bringing it full circle and applying what I've learned to take our community and industry to the next level through digital assets, courses, and photography I generate 100% in-house through Edge Brand Agency (my design agency) and  offer through Scoot Trade!

Edge Brand Agency

* Both Action pics by Dan Barret

Check out more of Ryan's incredible portfolio:

Striker Benji's Signature



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