We had the good fortune of connecting with Ryan Yamashita and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ryan, what do you attribute your success to?
I’d say the biggest factor behind the success of my brand has definitely been community. Prior to the pandemic, a lot of my time was spent filling my weekends with volunteer opportunities for various surf and skate organizations. As the lockdowns went into place though, I lost that major part of my life and definitely felt that absence when we were no longer able to see everyone in person.
By picking up and learning how to do ocean resin art though, I had the opportunity to explore a completely new avenue for connection, and found an amazing way to still be able to share the ocean with others (instead of bringing others to the beach, I was now able to bring a little piece of the ocean to them)! Gratefully, some of my biggest supporters also came from the orgs that I used to volunteer with, which led to some of my very first orders!
As time progressed, I got to get involved with a new artist/maker community, called The Maker Meetup (@themakermeetup), sponsored by MAS Epoxies and ran by Roni Langley, Kelly Johnson, Hailey Nolin, and Annie Morcos (big makers in the resin art community). Thanks to these four, I got to tap into a whole new network of extremely talented artists, many of whom also started up art businesses during the pandemic, just like me.
The Maker Meetup hosted weekly YouTube Lives, encouraged us to try out and take on different weekly challenges, provided tips for growing our businesses, and even invited me to make a guest appearance on one of their live episodes! This helped a ton in building my foundation, confidence, and skills needed to grow my craft.
Over these past six months, I’ve loved seeing our community develop from a fun support network into a full-fledged maker family. Without them, I don’t think I would have been able to grow my account as fast as I have, nor have gotten the support and momentum needed to get my business off the ground.
Your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more! Can you open up a bit about more about your work?
Overall, I’ve been doing ocean resin art for just a little over eight months now. It all started over the holidays; LA was clamping down for a second lockdown, and I needed a good excuse to keep me indoors.
Funny enough, I’ve never really seen myself as an “artist”, but instead someone who’s just good at working with his hands. Not too long after getting started, I actually got introduced to the term “maker”, and fell in love with it – that is 100% who I am, someone who enjoys making and building things, getting creative with resources, and seeing different ideas come to life!
My friends and I also like to call ourselves “Doers” (cue the Home Depot theme song). We don’t like waiting around saying, “Wouldn’t it be cool if . . .”, or “Man, I would love to do [insert dream] someday” – we just do it!
When it came down to resin art, I had seen a couple different resin art accounts pop up into my Instagram search feed, and started falling in love with the different process videos. Roni Langley (@rll.designs)’s surfboards were some of the first resin art pieces that I got introduced to. She later shared in one of her stories that she was going to be on a panel with MAS Epoxies in November 2020, so I decided to register. I figured even if I didn’t understand everything they were talking about, at the very least I’d still start getting exposed to the resin terminology!
During the panel, I found out that one of the other panelists, Hailey Nolin (@artisthaileynolin), was going to be hosting a virtual ornament making class complete with a resin starter kit that following month, in December. I figured that that was my shot to give it a try, and even if I sucked at it, at the very least, my mom would still hang it on the tree.
(You’ll notice, I always like to build in fail-safes for myself, or as my dad likes to say, “Set intentions, not expectations”.)
Thankfully, the pieces turned out great, and my friends started reaching out to see if I was interested in taking on orders/doing some custom commissions for them! This really was the turning point for me. I definitely had my slumps in the beginning, but thanks to The Maker Meetup, I was able to outsource a lot of my questions, and get help with some of the different hiccups that I was having.
Seeing how the ocean is a huge inspiration for all my pieces, and Surfrider LA was also a big part of my pre-pandemic life, I decided to have a portion of all my proceeds go towards supporting the Surfrider Foundation, and their mission of being “dedicated towards the protection and enjoyment of our oceans, waves, and beaches”.
I’m excited to see what these next few months have in store, and am grateful for all the amazing opportunities this resin journey’s brought me so far!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’m huge on the outdoors, so I would probably start off with hitting all of my favorite trails throughout the Santa Monica Mountains – starting with Los Liones as a good warm up and view of the city, then probably a night hike later in the week at Sandstone Peak. If they wanted a little more of a challenge, I definitely couldn’t say no to bagging a Baldy peak at some point too.
Of course this would build up a huge appetite, so I’d want to hit up Sawtelle and my favorite ramen spot, Shin-Sen-Gumi!
I’m not big on crowds nor busy tourists spots, so the more remote the adventure, the better personally for me. It’d be just a lot of downtime and exploring nature!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Oh man, this is a tough one! First off, I would be completely amidst to not give credit and thanks to one of my biggest heroes, “Grampa” Fred Kiesner, the founder and retired Chair of Loyola Marymount University’s Entrepreneurship program. He’s the one who first lit the entrepreneurial spirit within me, but more importantly also instilled two of my biggest life pillars that I live by every day: 1) Never miss an opportunity to thank a hero or someone who’s helped you along the way – major shoutout to you Grampa Fred, thank you for not giving up on me.
2) Don’t forget to throw the rope back over for those also on their way up over the wall – my life has been driven by this sort of reciprocal leadership, and I try to give back to programs more than they’ve given to me.
The second would be Randy Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon professor and author of “The Last Lecture”. I read his book/watched his video back in high school and will never forget the line, “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” This sort of intentionality and resilience has been key in how I’ve navigated different hardships, and always found ways to make the most out of every situation (including a pandemic).
Finally, as mentioned in the opening, my third would be MAS Epoxies and The Maker Meetup. I don’t think my art business would have been much more than a hobby and just me aimlessly messing around with resin, had they not brought us all together as an artist community.
Other: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Andres Andrieu and Lawson Marian