“It was the best day of my career,” Ryan Haskins tells us. He isn’t talking about a big promotion, or the day he landed his dream job however, he’s talking about the day he was fired. Rewind a few years and we find Ryan back at the beginning. He’s a young kid growing up in “’good ole’ small-town-middle-America” just outside St. Louis, Missouri. He lives in a “cute(ish)” little place, where nothing remarkable happens and in turn, he leads a rather unremarkable existence.
“I wasn’t good at sports. I wasn’t notably brainy, and my parents didn’t let me drink,” says Ryan. But he does tell us (and rather cheekily so), “I did have incredible teeth.” And so, naturally, he went to college to study dentistry. “I know lol,” Ryan butts in on this career decision we rarely see here on It’s Nice That.
As Ryan entered college to study dentistry, he quickly realised that it was a terrible idea and a year later in his sophomore year, he was saved when he discovered graphic design. “It changed my entire career (thank god),” adds Ryan on his newfound path. Speeding through an undergrad design program at record speed while “cranking out some of the most questionable design projects the world has ever seen,” Ryan eventually graduated with “a portfolio which showed exactly that.” In his own words, it was “half-baked and underdeveloped. It wasn’t pretty."
After graduating, he embarked on pretty much every design graduate’s eternal tale, trying to find a job. Finally landing on “the worst job of [Ryan’s] life” which was dull, miserable and everything in between, the designer was eventually fired, and it is this day, that Ryan refers to as “the best day of [his] career” as he finally felt liberated and free. He made a pact with himself to work at his dream design firm, which just so happened to be Sagmeister and Walsh.
Two years later, he found himself in New York with a single suitcase in hand, starting a position as a designer at his dream studio. And two years after that, following two years of working with some “freakishly talented people” he decided to “pay off some of his student debt and gasp! Go corporate.” Now living in LA and working as a freelance brand designer and creative director, Ryan has just finished his first branding project as a new freelancer. Tackling the rebrand for the LA-based $U$HI $NOB, “the best sushi ever” in Ryan’s opinion, the moment the designer tasted that delicious sushi, he knew he had to create a brand that accurately reflected the quality.
At first, Ryan’s initial instinct was to create a branding around the interior design of Kim and Kanye’s family home. “For everyone that’s unaware,” Ryan informs us, “it’s just a pretentious all white home with like zero furniture (goals).” But after looking closer at their home for further inspiration, he became “bored out of [his] mind” and consequently, went with a concept in the exact opposite direction: “loud, obnoxious, playful and borderline annoying.” Collage-heavy and crowded with sushi, ultimately, Ryan’s branding is intended to just make people happy. “I think designers have a tendency to take themselves and their work way too seriously and $U$HI $NOB’s branding is purely meant to make everyone smile,” he finally goes on to say, “And I think it’s working.”
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor. Feel free to drop Jyni a note if you have an exciting story for the site.