It was more than 10 years ago when Ryan McKay, after losing a baseball scholarship due to a broken arm during his senior year in high school, began considering an alternative career. Fortunately, McKay was not only a skilled baseball player, but also a fine artist, canvas painter and illustrator. Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, he’d heard about FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising from a speaker at Mountain Ridge High School and decided to pursue a degree in Graphic Design. This shift in career path has steered him toward becoming the successful lead designer and owner/operator of RECREATE Media, which

specializes in the design, development and management of the various aspects of branding for clients in Arizona and Los Angeles. Today, it looks like an unfortunate incident in McKay’s life has turned out to be a fortunate one for Arizona’s design industry.

“FIDM was an unbelievable experience,” says McKay. “From Alex Gardos, Diane Packer and John Urquiza, my instructors showed me that through hard work and love of design, that you can build a creative company from the ground up.”

After graduating from FIDM in 2001, McKay pursued a brief internship at Warner Brothers before returning to Scottsdale, Arizona. “I realized that graphic design was very stagnant and stale out here. I was doing freelance for a couple of nightclubs, and I realized that our industry needed rejuvenation- a revamp,” he says, explaining the reasoning behind the birth of RECREATE Media, which he founded in 2004.

As owner of RECREATE Media, McKay’s daily responsibilities include working with his creative director and designer to develop consistent branding for their clients, and to implement new, innovative approaches to their designs.

Today, the six-person RECREATE Media team occupies a 3,000 square foot office in the heart of “Old Town” Scottsdale, Arizona and offers clients a slew of in-house creative capabilities including innovative web development and online printing support through Printing Robot. Serving markets such as small businesses, the entertainment/nightclub industry and the restaurant and hospitality industries, McKay emphasizes the importance of finding the right market niche and to establish the right clientele to ensure the success of RECREATE Media. “An ideal client for us is someone who has the ability to describe and be passionate about their idea or product,” he says. And if a client doesn’t know what they stand for? The RECREATE Media team takes each client through a branding identity process to pinpoint the strengths of the company, he says.

One of RECREATE Media’s most recent projects was for Atlantic Bar & Grill, a five-star restaurant in the Cahuenga corridor in Los Angeles. Challenged to create marketing that stirs feelings of “old-school Hollywood, meets modern design, meets French Mediterranean,” McKay says his team applied RECREATE Media’s best practices, focused on developing the most effective, yet simple and creative ideas to deliver an effective campaign. To better serve the Los Angeles market, McKay plans to launch another office in Los Angeles in the Spring 2011.

For aspiring designers, McKay emphasizes the importance of immersing oneself in the design industry, and to pay attention to social media also. When hiring entry-level designers, he says the three most important things he considers is how a candidate’s online presence and personality is represented via social media, a candidate’s taste in music, and finally, their resume experience. “A lot of people have a lot of experience, but not a lot of people have dedicated experience,” he says.

So for someone who judges interview candidates based on their musical playlist, what’s on his? M83, J Dilla, Murs, and his personal favorite, Deftones. For inspiration, McKay recommends Computer Arts, and San Francisco-based artist group Upper Playground-affiliated site Juxtapoz Magazine.

For more information on RECREATE Media, visit:

Photo Captions: (From top)
Sign for RECREATE Media, founded by FIDM Alumnus Ryan McKay. Print marketing and brand identity development for “DOMiNATION Fridays,” by RECREATE Media. Logo and print marketing for Atlantic Bar & Grill in Los Angeles, California by RECREATE Media.

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Author: Mani O'Brien

Mani O’Brien is the Online Editor for the FIDMDigitalArts Blog and the Social Media Marketing Manager for FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. She earned her bachelor of arts degree in print journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communications at Arizona State University in 2006, and Associate of Arts degree in Graphic Design (Professional Designation) at FIDM in 2010. When she’s not brainstorming social media marketing ideas or writing about the graphic design and digital media, she enjoys practicing yoga, reading magazines, and hanging out with friends and family in Los Angeles.

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