Being proper DIY ourselves we started focussing on some other cool Do It Yourself projects in angling. In MC#11 we had Fallon’s Angler magazine and KingFish, in our latest issue MC#12 we had the pleasure of getting some questions over to Stephen May, founder and creator at On The Beaten Track. Since our magazine is still in Flemish/Dutch only and the massive UK/European following we have, we thought it would be cool to give you guys the full piece behind OTBT on here. Here’s what Stephen had got to say to us:
“I came across some old files whilst sorting through my old Mac from when I first sat down with the intention of creating OTBT and I thought that some of you may be interested in hearing some of the back story behind the brand, why I created it, and my intentions for the future.
I work as a Graphic Designer, constantly working with big brands on a daily basis and quite often I find myself restricted by a set of strict guidelines – colour pallettes, typefaces; do’s and dont’s, and whilst this is something that I would normally advocate for any brand, with OTBT, it was different – this was personal. I never wanted to feel restricted with what I could do with my own brand. I wanted it to be something organic; something that could adapt to change and be something that I could experiment with and generally just have some fun.
My clients can be ever so demanding or having their own ideas which just don’t work. I can live when they say they don’t like this or that typeface, but when they ask to add some flames to the design…
Therefore, there was a need for a simple logo; something that was timeless and wasn’t too stylised and that wouldn’t become dated over time. Something that would sit with any style of photography, illustration or anything else that I applied it to. However, that’s not to say that just because it appears simple, that there wasn’t any thought gone into it…it’s much more complicated than that. Quite often, the things that appear the most simple, are those that have taken the most time and thought processes.
The first thing was the name “On The Beaten Track.” Like many of us, I’m not privy to an exclusive syndicate, where I rarely see another angler on the bank. I’m a day ticket angler, and such is the growing popularity of carp fishing, I’m quite literally walking a ‘beaten track’ that has been walked by thousands before me. But there were also countless other names before settling on that. I already had a pretty clear idea in my head of how I wanted the brand to look, but there were other elements to consider that would strengthen its’ meaning and that people could relate to. Carp fishing is a journey. Not only in the literal sense but one that takes us many miles up and down the country and across continents in search of new waters and new challenges, so the logo needed to have a strong reference to a journey or an adventure, hence its’ obvious nod to a compass. But thirdly, carp fishing is also something that has us tearing our hair out at times; constantly trying to outwit our quarry and quite often chasing them round in circles and ending up right back where we started, which is why you’ll notice that OTBT reads exactly the same which ever way you read it in the logo and hence the reason I settled on the name ‘On The Beaten Track.’ So as you can see, the simple things, aren’t always as simple as they may first appear.
I initially set up OTBT as an outlet for my photography and latterly, videography. I’ve always been into my photography I’d come back from every session with some nice shots that would just sit on my Mac and never see the light of day. It seemed a shame, and I wanted to share them with like-minded people. Secondly, being a graphic designer, I’ve always wanted my own brand…what for, I’d never been too sure, but it was a way that I could experiment with ideas. Very often, when pitching work to a client, there’s tonnes of nice work that just gets chucked away as a wasted byproduct of the design process, and this is a real shame, and every so often, you’ll do something that sparks a new idea and something that could be applied elsewhere into my own work.
I’m not the sort of person who can just do ‘nothing.’ My mind is constantly ticking over thinking about what I can do next and I always need some sort of personal project to work on. It’s probably why I’ve never been too good on long beach holidays, as I just get bored and start thinking that I could be spending the time doing something more productive. It is tiring at times, I must admit, but that’s just me.
I felt that I had something different to offer the world of angling. There’s some great companies out there producing some great products and I could never (and has never been my intention to) compete with them. I just felt that I could put my own spin on things and combine my love of angling, graphic design, photography and videography, to offer something different and perhaps, something that hasn’t been seen before.
OTBT does take up a lot of my time and a few of my close friends questioned why I was doing it at first, and in all honesty, in the beginning, I wasn’t even sure. It just began life as a personal project that kept me busy and I wanted to see where it took me. So far, it’s taken me on a journey which started out purely photography-based and more latterly developed into videography, clothing and all the associated design work that comes with it, and it’s an opportunity for me to do things my way, exactly how I want, without any outside interference – complete creative freedom, whichever direction it may lead me.
This leads me nicely onto where I decided to take the brand next – clothing, and other items where I thought I could apply my own style and offer something different. I’ve always loved sugar skulls and always wanted to create one myself and this is where the ‘Death Rig’ design was born – a skull constructed from various angling paraphernalia. Admittedly, the name is a bit ‘out there’ given it’s connotations and may be frowned upon by some, but that’s fine with me. I wanted to create something edgy and unseen in the angling world. I’m always looking to push boundaries and in doing so, you’re likely to piss a few people off along the way – break the rules and evolve. I did however consider for a long time whether it was too ‘out there’ and the design sat on my Mac for months, before I finally decided to produce a small run of T-shirts, followed shortly after by some matt black mugs featuring the matt gold Death Rig artwork. This literally took me completely by surprise how popular they have been and the demand has sky rocketed to a point that has far surpassed any of my expectations and what started out as a project that was intended to fill some downtime, has now turned into something that takes up most of my time. It really is quite amazing how what started life as a little idea whilst sat at my Mac in the back room of the house, has now evolved into something that I simply can’t keep up with and for which, I feel truly humbled.
So what lies in store for the future? Well, OTBT has never been about following trends or appeasing the masses. It’s purely about ideas and experimentation. If I feel like an idea is good enough to run with, then I’ll see it through, if not, then it gets dumped and I’ll move onto something else. It’s not about releasing ‘seasonal’ ranges or following the crowds, it’s about producing something that I can feel proud of and that’s the way it will always be. Alongside that, there’s also the constant need for me to produce beautiful imagery, which is where the idea for the ‘Mirror Mirrored’ series began. I always like to produce work that makes people stop and stare, notice things they hadn’t noticed first time round and question whether what they are looking at is entirely natural, despite looking so at first glance. With the rise in social media and the decline in peoples attention spans as a result, it’s increasingly difficult to make people stop as they scroll down through an Instagram feed, so it’s more important than ever to create something different and that’s what drives me forward to with OTBT – to surprise and create a stir and I can only hope that I have achieved this in some way through my work.”
Stephen just released a new OTBT vid, next level stuff again: