Designer Ryan Brown is the talent behind The Pursuit of NY, a t-shirt brand that artistically depicts what New York City embodies. The results are pretty awesome:
It’s not just that the original illustrations are really cool. Each design is centered around a moment in the history of New York City. The Brooklyn Purchase above is set in 1898, which is the year that Brooklyn joined the other boroughs to form the modern NYC. The Bronx gets a design too, inspired by the great fire of 1977.
The Pursuit of NY keeps a hyper-local production split between Carroll Gardens and Williamsburg. Their super soft, limited edition t-shirts are full of unexpected details.
Yes, they are tag-less, and the illustrated care info encourages you to wear your t-shirt to all parties. Tucked into the sleeve, there’s a quote that inspired Ryan to start the company in the summer of 2012: “I promise it will all work out”.
Ryan tells us more about why that quote was so significant (and even made it into the shirts), his great grandmother’s pursuit, and his favorite spots in his neighborhood – Carroll Gardens.
I have to ask – where does the name “The Pursuit of New York” come from?
The Pursuit of NY began as a blog of mine chronicling inspiration I gathered from around the city. The name came from the simple idea of everyone, in their own unique way, is in a pursuit of something; everyone is constantly striving to make their lives more complete, more fulfilling. I took inspiration from my great grandmother, who in 1919 left Ireland and landed on Ellis Island. Her pursuit led to mine today. 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.
Something happened at a concert last year that made you take the leap and start a business.
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 Lower East Side. 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. I used that saying as inspiration and the motto of my company, the motto of my pursuit and it’s stitched into the inside of every sleeve tag to remind us, at any time, that it’ll all work out.
Besides your awesome Pursuit of NY shirts, what’s your favorite t-shirt that you own?
My favorite tee has to be my Radiohead tee I got at the now defunct All Points West Festival during their In Rainbows tour. The tee is half cotton and half shredded recycled plastic bottles. It has an amazing feel and in huge colored hard-to-read letters it brilliantly says “You’ll go to hell for what your dirty mind is thinking”… it’s just pure Radiohead
You are working on new designs. What are we going to see in the next few months?
In a couple weeks I am releasing an updated version of our First Run Logo tees in a black for the men and plum for the ladies. In addition to that the next design is an ode to the whiskey lovers and the heritage of the distillery’s of this great state. It’s titled New York: A Gentlemen’s State and in line with all my other tees will be hand drawn. (release mid-April)
What are your favorite spots in Carroll Gardens?
I have been in Carroll Gardens for 6 months now and I love it. Favorite spots include: Buttermilk Channel for their amazing brunch, Abilene for their brews and their friend chicken sandwich, Lucali for their art of pizza, and I’d have to say my bar spot is 61 Local, they have a vast rotating tap of craft beers.