We’ve followed the work of San Francisco Native Ryan De La Hoz for a while now – his fine art/collage practice especially – but it was only recently that we put two and two together and realised he also runs one of our best-selling (because it’s rad of course) pin brands, PSA Press. He also runs the great cooltry.net – which is mainly editions and tees of pieces from his practice. So it seems like he’s a pretty busy dude! We visited his SF studio to find out how he manages it all…
Hi Ryan! What are you up to today?
I’m always juggling a few things at once! I split my time packing up pin and shirt orders, designing some new shirt graphics for summer, and catching up on emails. During the week I’m in a textile printing lab with college students 8 hours a day so I get to really catch up on my personal creative stuff on the weekends.
As well as running PSA, you’re an artist too! Please tell us about your practice.
My personal practice is mostly mixed media these days. I use collage, textiles, plastic, paint, and more. I’m still interested in dissent as a main theme. The contrast of past and present, as well as modern culture versus antiquity is still prevalent in my work. This means a lot of research and flipping through reference books while thinking of new pieces and lot’s of crude thumbnail sketches on scraps of paper at work throughout the day.
How is it running PSA and maintaining a practice?
I run PSA with my long time friends James Brown and Chris Vilchez so that helps a lot. At this point we are a pretty well oiled machine. I also have my own original products that I make and sell at www.cooltry.net. Honestly sometimes PSA and Cool Try overtake my personal practice if they get really busy. It’s an ebb and flow for sure. I’m just glad I can make things all the time whether its commercial or personal.
So. The “PinGame”. Why do you think it’s so hype all of a sudden? I think that Instagram and certain accounts like @patchgame and @pinlord definitely ushered in a new era of independent pin makers. The thing is at least for me, pins have always been fascinating objects that I seek out and collect, and when I started Cool Try in 2009 an original pin came soon after. I think certain people have always been attracted to pins as cultural objects and ephemera, it just took a very visual platform to unify and spread the word of pin making, and the current state of the “Pingame” was born.
On that subject, we loved your “PinGame” pin. As well as a bunch of original stuff, there’s also a lot of stuff that’s fast becoming cliché – do you think it’s eventually gonna eat itself?
Thank you. Occasionally PSA Press likes to poke fun at certain tropes in the Pin Game and that was a culmination of 3 of them we were seeing in 2016: “Pokemon” things, “Stranger Things” things, and pre-order PMS (Pantone Matching System) mock-up screenshots that no one but a designer should ever see. We literally combined all of these things and made this self referential pin that really only pin makers and people involved in the pin game would fully understand. I think that while trends come and go, good pins designs and the appetite for them will continue to thrive. Yes, I think there will come a time (if it hasn’t already) where a pin of like, Darth Vader with Bart Simpson’s head isn’t going to cut it anymore. The Pingame will survive though, because there are people out there making radical amazing pins and I think that will keep this “scene” alive.
You’re based in SF. Whereabouts is your studio? What’s it like?
My studio is in the Mission District of San Francisco. I make art in the same room where I ship Cool Try and PSA Press so my studio is like a hodgepodge of these 3 worlds: fine art, goods, and pins. This means it’s quite messy to the outside world and quite organized to me.
Give us your top 4 spots for an Englishperson in SF? 1. Catching an old film at the Historic Castro Theatre 2. Killer drinks, tunes, and free popcorn at Lucky 13 bar 3. Musee Mecanique, an antique penny arcade on Fisherman’s Warf 4. SF National Cemetery (and the surrounding Presidio) with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge
What have you got coming up for both PSA and in your personal work?
PSA releases a new pin every Monday so that is a very constant thing in my life right now. PSA also designed and produced the official pin for the SF Art Book Fair in which we also have a booth, so we are also working on some publications for that. Personally I’m working on a new zine to be published by 8-Ball Zines late in the year.