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Hero Design Studio

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For many setting out to make it on their own, a storefront is a destination. But for husband-wife team Mark Brickey and Beth Manos Brickey of Hero Design Studio, their shop in Buffalo's Allentown neighborhood has been a way to introduce future clients to their brand and a stop along their path toward full-time design.

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  Mark and Beth (at the shop with their pooch Seri) founded Hero in 2003 as a design collective with work such as creating flyers for friends bands but it wasn't until a trip to South by Southwest in 2005 that they moved into high gear. "I was roaming through the halls and by accident stumbled onto Flatstock," Mark says. "On the flight home I pulled out my notebook that I keep in my bag but never use and jotted down a million ideas because I'd seen our future right in front of me. It was very real and something we needed to do."  Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake
    Mark and Beth (at the shop with their pooch Seri) founded Hero in 2003 as a design collective with work such as creating flyers for friends bands but it wasn't until a trip to South by Southwest in 2005 that they moved into high gear. "I was roaming through the halls and by accident stumbled onto Flatstock," Mark says. "On the flight home I pulled out my notebook that I keep in my bag but never use and jotted down a million ideas because I'd seen our future right in front of me. It was very real and something we needed to do."

    Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake

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  By 2005, Mark and Beth were printing their own posters and in 2006 they exhibited at Flatstock for the first time (and have returned every year since and will be there again this year). In September 2006, they opened their storefront.  Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake
    By 2005, Mark and Beth were printing their own posters and in 2006 they exhibited at Flatstock for the first time (and have returned every year since and will be there again this year). In September 2006, they opened their storefront.

    Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake

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  Mark and Beth followed Apple's model: inviting people into a physical space to experience the brand. "On a very micro level, that process worked for us," Mark says. The name was also inspired by Apple. "I'm not an institutional kind of guy," say Mark, who dropped out of design school when he shopped his portfolio around town and landed a logo and t-shirt gig for a local record store. "It'd be nice to have something hanging on the wall but all my heroes are dropouts, took life by the seat of their pants, and made things happen. That's been a motivation, all those wacky people who had more vision than common sense."  Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake
    Mark and Beth followed Apple's model: inviting people into a physical space to experience the brand. "On a very micro level, that process worked for us," Mark says. The name was also inspired by Apple. "I'm not an institutional kind of guy," say Mark, who dropped out of design school when he shopped his portfolio around town and landed a logo and t-shirt gig for a local record store. "It'd be nice to have something hanging on the wall but all my heroes are dropouts, took life by the seat of their pants, and made things happen. That's been a motivation, all those wacky people who had more vision than common sense."

    Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake

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  Hero's main products are prints (many of which are concert posters they've been hired to create) as well as totes and shirts.  Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake
    Hero's main products are prints (many of which are concert posters they've been hired to create) as well as totes and shirts.

    Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake

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  The real reason for having the space is the printing studio that occupies the back third of the 650-square-foot store. "We needed somewhere to house everything," Beth says. "We could either have gotten a studio and relied on online sales or gotten a studio in which we also did retail. We figured if the store didn't do well we could close off the front and keep the space for our workshop."  Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake
    The real reason for having the space is the printing studio that occupies the back third of the 650-square-foot store. "We needed somewhere to house everything," Beth says. "We could either have gotten a studio and relied on online sales or gotten a studio in which we also did retail. We figured if the store didn't do well we could close off the front and keep the space for our workshop."

    Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake

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  Though they're located in a Rust Belt city with ample available space, Mark and Beth treat their shop and studio like a Brooklyn space. "What we do is urban and hopefully seen as hip and big-city-ish so we do it in that environment," Mark says of squeezing into the tight quarters. Shown here are the piles of long-term inventory as well as paints, both of the traditional silk-screening as well as house varieties. "We do a lot of playing around," Mark says.  Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake
    Though they're located in a Rust Belt city with ample available space, Mark and Beth treat their shop and studio like a Brooklyn space. "What we do is urban and hopefully seen as hip and big-city-ish so we do it in that environment," Mark says of squeezing into the tight quarters. Shown here are the piles of long-term inventory as well as paints, both of the traditional silk-screening as well as house varieties. "We do a lot of playing around," Mark says.

    Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake

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  Hero's designs are also wearable. Mark and Beth don't yet screen the shirts themselves but have made that one of their next goals.  Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake
    Hero's designs are also wearable. Mark and Beth don't yet screen the shirts themselves but have made that one of their next goals.

    Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake

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  Many of the designs are Buffalo-centeric but ironically, it's not local residents purchases those prints. "It's ironic but it takes Buffalonians who have moved elsewhere and come back to visit to make this store in Buffalo viable," Mark says.  Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake
    Many of the designs are Buffalo-centeric but ironically, it's not local residents purchases those prints. "It's ironic but it takes Buffalonians who have moved elsewhere and come back to visit to make this store in Buffalo viable," Mark says.

    Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake

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  On March 1, Mark and Beth announced that they'll be shuttering their Allentown storefront—not because of a lack of business but because of the exact opposite, they're too busy with design projects to dedicate the time to maintaining a retail shop. Not to fret, however, they'll be using their extra time to attend more shows (like Flatstock and the Renegade Craft Fair) and expand their online shop at heroandsound.com/store as well as on Etsy.  Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake
    On March 1, Mark and Beth announced that they'll be shuttering their Allentown storefront—not because of a lack of business but because of the exact opposite, they're too busy with design projects to dedicate the time to maintaining a retail shop. Not to fret, however, they'll be using their extra time to attend more shows (like Flatstock and the Renegade Craft Fair) and expand their online shop at heroandsound.com/store as well as on Etsy.

    Photo by: Miyoko Ohtake

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