Explorer’s Press: A Local Success Story in the Art of Adventuring
Brendan Megannety and his brand Explorer's Press have made getting lost in nature a lot more fun
August 31, 2016
Few companies appreciate the West Coast’s vast outdoors as well as Vancouver-based lifestyle brand Explorer’s Press. Operated in an almost entirely solo fashion by local artist Brendan Megannety, it produces clothing, accessories, jewelry and more—all of which are original concepts and designs. Launched in 2012, Explorer’s Press has grown from a hobby into a full-time gig for Megannety, with stores stocking his goods worldwide and a huge demand for his products through the online store.
With a nostalgic, on-the-road, vintage-souvernier inspired aesthetic, and a promise to provide an “Approximate 75% increase in coolness, with the application of our pins and patches to your jackets and bags,” Explorer’s Press takes a light-hearted, friendly approach to an industry that occasionally takes itself a bit too seriously. Vanmag recently spoke to Megannety to discuss Explorer’s Press, his methods, what inspires him and what he’s got planned for the future.
How did get Explorer’s Press get started?
I was working as a screen printer in Toronto and self-publishing zines and making art prints on the side. I made a few shirts and patches and it kind of went from there. When I actually decided to market the products under a brand name and landed on Explorer’s Press, changed the look of the online store and focused on a theme, things really picked up. I was able to leave my job about a month later because I couldn’t keep up with the demand.
Walk me through the process of bringing a piece from the idea stage to finished product.
Since we do a lot of text- and slogan-based designs, usually it starts with a tag line. Any time one pops in to my head I write it down, and I have a massive list on my phone. From there I will come up with a visual concept and doodle it on paper. For embroidery and enamel work, the art has to be a vector, so I will bring the drawing into Adobe Illustrator and vectorize it and tweak it a bit.
What sets Explorer’s Press apart from other brands that produce pins and patches and such?
Well, when I started making the small accessories, nobody else was really doing them. The Good Worth was doing some pins at the time, but patches were really just a band thing (this was almost four years ago). I hadn’t seen many brands focus on small, one-size-fits-all accessories. I guess the biggest thing now is that we don’t make pop-culture reference products. I see a lot of companies making weird Simpsons and Seinfeld stuff, which feels kind of cheap to me. All of our stuff is based on 100% original concepts and art. Also, I’ve seen companies selling pins for $20 and crazy stuff like that. I want everything to be accessible for everyone, so we’ve always had our pins and patches at $5.
In what ways does the influence of Vancouver or B.C. manifest in your work?
I grew up camping and hiking here. I was a Boy Scout for five or six years. I used to collect scouting patches, and I think that had a big influence on how I ended up doing what I do now.
Any Vancouver brands/designers/artists you’re especially into right now?
My old studio mate Scott Sueme did an amazing job of painting the Hootsuite building for the Vancouver Mural Fest. We did some collaborative projects last year that went really well. Kassy from Old Fashioned Standards is making some really high-quality oil cloth goods. Douglas Park native Pryce Holmes is half of the New-York-based brand Alltimers, which is making some good stuff. And last but not least, Dylan, Logan and Jeremy at Tattoo Union are really good at making permanent accessories.
Where do you see Explorer’s Press in two to three years? Any big ideas in the pipeline?
I would like to move towards more cut and sew products. We’ve done a few collaborative pieces with YNOT out of Toronto (a backpack last year and toiletry kits coming up in our fall release). We’re focusing on more soft goods this fall (T-shirts, sweatshirts and a varsity jacket). I just want to have fun and bring on more artists for collaboration. Also, world domination.