Meet the Artists Behind the New REI Member Made Program

This spring, we’re launching  a new way for REI Co-op members to share their love of the outdoors, and their art, with other members. Through the Member Made program, we’ll feature designs created by our members, starting with a limited-edition sticker series.

To kick off the program, we reached out to members we knew who were involved in the arts. We asked them, “When are you happiest outdoors?” and we received a wide variety of answers. These are the five members whose work we chose to share.

Simone Martin-Newberry

A Chicago-based graphic designer and illustrator, Simone works with local nonprofits, art organizations and mission-driven businesses. She is a nature lover, urban gardener and photographer, too. She loves being an REI member because it feels like a club where everyone is welcome.

What’s the inspiration behind your Member Made artwork?  I live in Chicago, the third biggest city in the United States. When people think of this city, they don’t usually think about—or even realize—how green it is. The thing about nature in Chicago, though, is that it’s nearly impossible to completely leave the city behind. I don’t try to get away from these artifacts of city life when spending time in nature. I see them both, together, as what makes this place beautiful.

What helps your creative process?  Being outside. Since so much of my work references the outdoors, getting out there as often as I can, taking photos and just enjoying nature helps focus me when it’s time to work. I love to pick out all of the different shades of green, all the unique shapes of the plants, all the infinite textures of the clouds overhead. It helps heighten my senses and awareness.

What is your design philosophy?  In my graphic design work, I’m all about editing—making messages and images as simple and clear as possible. But in my personal drawings, I want things to look lush, weedy and inviting. I want people to get as lost in my pen strokes as they would in an actual overgrown green space.

Yoyo Ferro

Originally from São Paulo, Brazil, Yoyo is known for his colorful and bold murals. The street artist, now based in Atlanta, loves the hard manual labor a large mural requires and the reaction he gets from people once it’s finished. He also enjoys working in different weather and meeting the community in the process.

What’s the inspiration behind your Member Made artwork?  [This is] a portrait of the outdoors trip my friends and I do every year. Right around the spring, we get together and spend two or three days unplugged from the world, floating down the river on our canoes and sleeping in the woods while finding ways to make each other laugh. It’s definitely a recharge of energy and my favorite trip of the year.

What helps you create?  I like creating art but I also spend a great deal of time consuming it. In the process of creating something new, I always need whatever the opposite of silence is. It can be listening to music, podcasts, TV shows or movies. … That way the artwork and focus come out naturally, squeezed out from the middle of everything my brain is taking in at that moment.

What do you love about the outdoors?  Getting disconnected from your routines and technology.

Jennet Liaw

Through her art, New York-based designer and illustrator Jennet wants to make people feel something while still understanding the original message. She approaches each project “with a hunger for the unknown and a list of questions for myself to find the answers [to].”

What’s the inspiration behind your Member Made artwork?  With this design, I knew I wanted to express a universally felt experience, but one that maybe isn’t as romantic or grandiose as being in the great outdoors can so often inspire. When it comes to taking a break, there’s not much that will best protect my bottom from the wrong rock other than a minute of careful decision-making.

What do you love about the outdoors?  Being in the outdoors puts me in the perfect place to gain perspective and humility. We’re constantly seeking to create the next new thing, the seemingly intangible, the never-before-seen. But going outside is my wake-up call that nature itself already represents the extent of all possibility—as far as we’ll ever go, nature has already been there.

What does being part of the REI community mean to you?  To me, the REI community is about having a place to come to, to multiply our shared love of adventure—because that excitement is truly contagious and we’re all able to go further together.

Brooklyn Bell

Brooklyn, a student of graphic design at Western Washington University, combines hand drawings and graphic design work to create her illustrations. She also is an avid mountain biker, skier and rock climber (and REI member, of course).

What’s the inspiration behind your Member Made artwork?  What inspired this desert landscape is a trip I took to Sedona, Arizona, last fall for Roam Fest (an all-women’s mountain biking festival).

What do you love about the outdoors?  Outside is where I solve the world’s problems, or at least my own. Outside is where I face and I conquer my fears. Outside is where I share laughter and food with friends.

What does being part of the REI community mean to you?  Being a part of the REI community means sharing a common love for the outdoors.

Jordan Butcher

Growing up in rural Appalachia had a profound impact on Jordan’s life and aesthetic—there were no art galleries where he grew up, so if he wanted to see art he had to travel or make it himself. He enjoys creating anything that can be touched or heard, and works as a professional graphic designer and musician based in Seattle. He finds the best solutions to art are never complicated. He seeks to solve the problem in his work, not chase a trend. He believes, “design, like a good leather armchair, should get better with time.”

What’s the inspiration behind your Member Made artwork?  For a few years now, some friends [and I] have gathered for a week or so of camping on the Olympic Peninsula at Lake Crescent. I’ve literally been all over the world and I think that lake might be my favorite place on Earth, or at least that I’ve found so far.

What do you love about the outdoors?  It’s clean and quiet. There’s no email, no social media, no pressure. I often think about how it was here before and how it’ll be here long after. No matter what’s happening in the world, it stays a constant source of inspiration and a place to recharge.

What does being part of the REI community mean to you?  REI is a place I know I can count on for honest answers about what I need for the outdoors, where to go, what I need to pack and what I need to see. The cooperative part of the company is inspiring to me—coming from a punk rock background, I appreciate the honesty and philanthropy that comes along with a company that operates like REI. I’m proud to be a member and customer.

You can find these stickers at your local REI at check-out, while supplies last. Look for more Member Made designs coming soon.