I hope you are enjoying these weekly artist features!
This week’s featured artist is really two artists…or perhaps even three! Man vs. George Design (http://manvsgeorge.etsy.com/) consists of MAN (husband and wife team Ryan & Tilney -- he's the artist and she's the writer) and GEORGE (the lady-cat who rules over their business empire with an iron paw). Ryan, Tilney and (George!) create greeting cards printed on 100% recycled paper. They live and work in Wauwatosa, just west of Milwaukee.
Asked how Man vs. George came to be, Tilney explains, “George is our inspiration and our nemesis. She frequently bests us in feats of strength and skill, so we thought it only fitting to celebrate this sometimes-adversarial relationship in our business name.”
Ryan says that Tilney has a very large family, and urgency prompted him to create their very first greeting card. “They say necessity is the mother of invention, and that's definitely true in the case of our greeting cards. ‘Necessity’ in this case was the need to find a cute birthday card for Tilney's niece Lucy the night before Lucy's party. We were too lazy to run to the drug store (and didn't want anything with a Disney character or mega-merchandising tie-in) so I fired up Adobe Illustrator and created a card just for her, featuring a pair of spider monkeys. A few more family birthdays, weddings, and baby showers later, and we had the makings for a full line of greeting cards. Here is that first card, which is now for sale in the Man vs. George Etsy shop:
Tilney notes “most greeting cards are blank on the back. We see that as a wasted opportunity to make someone smile! All of the cards from Man vs. George feature designs that wrap around from the front to the back of the card, for twice the color and twice the fun.”
In addition to selling single cards, Ryan and Tilney bundle sets in variety packs that have you covered for every occasion (birthdays, weddings, thank you, new baby, thinking of you, sympathy, blank, etc.). Their goal with these packages is to help their customers avoid last-minute trips to the drug store greeting card aisle, which, in their experience, too often end in frustration. “It's our service to the people of the world.”
Another reason Man vs. George greeting cards are unique is that Ryan and Tilney use materials from as close to their Milwaukee area location as possible. “Our card stock is made from 100% recycled, FSC certified paper and comes from Neenah. Our envelopes are from French Paper Company (http://www.mrfrench.com/), a wonderful family-owned mill in Niles, Michigan; their envelopes are acid free, lignin free, processed chlorine free, and made with 100% green power from their own hydroelectric plant.” Very cool!!! In addition to selling greeting cards and posters on Etsy, Ryan and Tilney run a full-service graphic design firm. “We do custom wedding invitations (see a sampling in our second Etsy shop, modernweddings: http://modernweddings.etsy.com/), business logos and advertisements, gig posters for bands, and web site graphics. We are also happy to customize any of our greeting card designs with different colors or wording, for a small fee.”
Among his other numerous talents, Ryan plays the guitar! “I can play the chords to the song "Live Forever" by Oasis. They are the only chords I know and it is the only song I can play. Singing is out of the question.” Tilney’s claim to fame? “I can't wink. Seriously. Don't make fun of me. I feel it's holding me back in life.”
One question I have asked in preparation for writing these features is what the best part of being an artist is. For Man vs. George, “It's the spectrum of reactions you get at cocktail parties when you say you're a graphic designer: Some people's eyes widen and they suddenly find everything about you and your profession cool and fascinating. Others do a spit-take and say, ‘No, but seriously. How do you make money to pay for food?’ Little do they know we earn the lion's share of our food money $20 at a time, hustling people into paying to see a live demonstration of Tilney's nonexistent winking skills. (You really ought to check it out some time. It's HILARIOUS!)”
Besides their Etsy shops, you can find items from Man vs. George Designs worldwide (really!!). From California to Spain, check out these fine establishments:
Culver City -- Lundeen's
Los Angeles -- Clover
Los Angeles -- Skylight Books
Los Angeles -- Yolk
Elmhurst -- Elmhurst Art Museum
Delafield -- Avant Garden
Elm Grove -- Wine Cellar of Wisconsin
Grafton -- The Arts Mill Boutique
Madison (West) -- Glitter Workshop
Madison (East) -- Midwest Clay Project
Milwaukee -- Urban Sense
Superior -- LU :: Handmade Goodness
Wausau -- NevaeH Gallery
Wauwatosa -- Juxt Home and Baby
Barcelona – Sorbo
That's quite a list!
Thanks to Ryan, Tilney, and of course George!