As a toy collector and fanatic, there is huge satisfaction in seeing one of our characters come to life.
Brothers Ryan and Don Clark knew what they wanted to do with their lives when they were kids. Their grandfather, Alfred Paulsen, spent more than 30 years as an illustrator for NASA. Don says, “That’s where it all started. Ryan and I never wavered from that notion that grandpa “got paid to draw.” Their father spent much of his spare time in the home workshop crafting perfectly executed woodwork in the form of toys and furniture. They say, “The desire to create, and the potential to do it with precision and imagination, was simply ingrained in us.”
In the early nineties the duo fell in love with punk, hardcore, and metal—created a band, got signed, and toured the country. In 2006, these third generation creators opened Invisible Creature (IC) to build a company suited to their diverse interests which range from music, to toys, and design. Fast forward six years and they’ve done work for MTV, Target, Chipotle, The Oregon Lottery, and every record label we’ve ever heard of. With a client list as diverse as their talents, we couldn’t help but reach out to them. We talked with them about their interest in toy culture, side projects, and the relationship between their design and music careers.
We first fell in love with IC while checking out their posters for The Sasquatch Festival. For the 10 year anniversary, Ryan and Don created characters for the festival’s promotional pieces. Two of the characters, Salvatore the Sasquatch and George, were sculpted and produced as vinyl toys. Don told us, “As a toy collector and fanatic, there is huge satisfaction in seeing one of our characters come to life.” Adam Zacks, creator of the festival is a good friend of IC and places a lot of importance on the artistic face of the festival. Don said, “We’re very thankful for our relationship and the opportunity to create something new each year. We had talked about creating a Sasquatch figure with Adam (who is a toy collector) throughout the years. So we decided to just go for it. We started working on character concepts a year before the festival to give us enough time for toy production.”
The brothers also design their own toys through a partnership with Super7. Don says, “We’d been wanting to do toys for years, but had been waiting for the right partner. The great folks at Super7 reached out to us in 2010 and the rest is history. In creating the characters, we draw turn-arounds for the sculptors. Front, back, and side profiles. We get updates on the sculpt and weigh-in with notes and it goes from there. The Super7 sculptors are so good. They knocked it out of the park each time.”
It’s great to see designers make time to pursue all of their interests at once. Don told us how investing in personal projects leads to more freedom. “They allow us to experiment a bit—and coincidentally often times lead to more client work. It’s cyclical in that way and we value them as equals. Income derived from posters, prints, and toys usually go right back into making more posters, prints, and toys. That’s just part of the fun.” We asked them what it’s like to work with your brother. “Oh we have fun,” Don said. “We always got along as kids and it’s the same as adults. The secret ingredient may be the fact that we couldn’t be more opposite—but that has given us a solid mutual respect for each other. If we both had my personality, we’d be doomed.”