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Bears in Business: Ryan Mund

In this Bears In Business we meet Ryan Mund, owner of BearlyGoin – sellers of bear apparel and merchandise! This ranges from tee shirts, tank tops, sweaters, hoodies, even greeting cards, pillows, and coffee mugs. 

Here’s what Ryan has to say about himself and his business:

I grew up in a small city in southern Alberta, Canada before moving out to Vancouver, British Columbia. I moved to Vancouver for 2 reasons: the first was to attend film school and pursue a career in filmmaking. Second was because I wanted to move to a bigger city where I could feel more comfortable coming out in.

I felt film was a natural fit for me to pursue because I love cameras and telling stories. I now work fulltime as the Head of Video Production and as a photographer for retail marketing.

However, drawing was my very first love in regard to art. When I was younger you could always find me doodling away in my binder full of character art and comics. Pokemon, Sailor Moon, and Sonic were amongst my favorite subject matter. I was always the “artsy kid” – and I still am! (laughs)

But by the time high school came around I was discouraged in pursuing visual arts as a career. Part of it was my own fault for comparing myself to other people who could draw super realistic subject matter. My style has always been very cartoony, and I always felt like if couldn’t draw or paint realistically, then I wasn’t a “good artist”. I shouldn’t have let that get to me, but I did and put the pencil down to focus on photography and saving up to move. That was almost 10 years ago!

I never intended to start BearlyGoin – I honestly just wanted to draw again. BearlyGoin actually grew from an art exercise I started back in 2016. I decided to participate in a 7-day art challenge on Instagram, which helped to make me feel comfortable enough to take on a month-long challenge that featured all bear drawings!

The response my bears got was incredibly surprising and humbling. It took a lot for me to post my work online – especially when I was used to hiding it from everyone. But the amount of support I received during that month was incredible, with so many people asking if they could get one on a t-shirt. It took a full month to convince me but after the challenge was done I did my homework and decided to open up an online store. My initial goal was to sell just one shirt, and now I’m in the hundreds!

BearlyGoin sells bear apparel and merchandise! T-shirts, tank tops, sweaters, hoodies, even greeting cards, pillows, and coffee mugs. My online store is run through Redbubble, which really has allowed me to sell my work on almost anything I want. The printing is impeccable and the clothing is very top notch and true to size, which I find is the number one thing bearish guys like myself need. When I order a 2XL online I want it to be a true 2XL – not something that ends up being a tube top on me! (laughs)

All of my images are drawn by hand using archival inks, so I also take on commission work by offering original illustrations. I do end up doing some touch ups on the computer, but I’m old school and I want the original to be something tangible, something I can hold in my own two hands.

The bears I draw are primarily done in black and white to help keep things loose and fun for me to draw. If I feel the piece needs colour, I’ll either paint it using markers and watercolour or I’ll do it digitally. I try to inject a bit of humor into them and things can be a bit cheeky, but I try not to go too over the top. I want to draw cute bears that might not be as innocent as they look… but some actually are though!

For me, nothing beats getting an image sent to me or posted with a happy face showing off one of the designs they have. It truly makes my day, and I try to repost all pictures as features on my Instagram. It’s really cool because between the drawings and features, I’ve kind of started my own lil community. People have conversations in the comments with one another and make friends through BearlyGoin – I think it’s even helped a few people find partners!

I’ve even been contacted by people who’ve said my bears have helped them find the courage to create their own art again. I never thought my art could do that, and it feels weird saying that it has. However, I want to keep the same mindset I started things with – that this is for me first and foremost. Of course, I want others to enjoy my bears as much as I do, but to avoid getting overwhelmed, that just needs to be the icing on the cake. Mmmmmmm… cake… (laughs)

I don’t have any discounts currently available, however, I do offer them a couple times a month. I’ll always post about them on Instagram or my Facebook page. Redbubble also offers a discount code if you sign up to receive their emails, which is a really easy way to know when the deals are on.

Personally, I’d love to get myself out to a few bear events this year too - whether for BearlyGoin or just to enjoy it. I really think partnering with an event, or something of that nature, would be an amazing opportunity and experience. A big goal for me is to get out of the studio and into the community more, so I’ve looked into setting up a table at a few local art markets and possibly Vancouver Pride.

At the end of the day though there really is only one thing that is certain… the future of BearlyGoin is more and more bears!

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BWM Staff

Our Staff Writing Team works hard to bring you great content and share news & events from the bear community and beyond.

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