Canvas & Paddle: How was Roo Kee Roo created? And where did the name come from?
Forest & Michael (RKR): As brothers, both designers and living in New York at the time, we knew we wanted to create something together. We actually spent a few years exploring exactly what that could be. Ultimately we decided it was important for us to create work that we connected with on a personal level. Our strengths as designers and our intuition on subject matter led us to create prints that showcased the places and things that were central to our experience growing up on the Great Lakes and Michigan's Upper Peninsula. It was pretty special and just felt right to share it through our products and illustrations.
The name comes from a story our dad used to tell us growing up. It was about a monster called the Roo Kee Roo who would lurk around in the woods and eat children at night. It scared us, but it's lesson about sticking together is something we remember fondly. It made sense for what we were setting out to do with our company both thematically and tangibly.
C&P: What is your favorite part about your business?
RKR: With Roo Kee Roo we're so lucky to be doing what we love; there's not many parts to it that feel like work. We love it when designs come to life after hours and hours of meticulous work, but getting to meet and work with different people and companies around the world is really rewarding. It's a wonderful feeling when people connect with the products and lifestyle that are such a big part of who we are.
C&P: What do you remember most about spending time at your cottage?
RKR: Our time at the cottage was about engaging in the simple joys of life. Swimming, fishing, exploring, playing cards or doing absolutely nothing at all. It felt like time didn't exist. The more the world grows connected and cluttered with information, the more appealing this lifestyle becomes to us. We'd like to think others feel the same way we do.
C&P: What do you hope for Roo Kee Roo to become?
RKR: Products like prints and notecards are a great way for us to express the essence of Roo Kee Roo. They're simple, iconic, and things anyone can appreciate in their home. But eventually we'd like Roo Kee Roo to become a brand that expresses itself through an even wider variety of products that feel connected to this experience of growing up at the cottage and on the water. We don't think of ourselves as a print company, but rather a lifestyle brand.
C&P: You are brothers, and I'm sure you have differences; what are the pros and cons of working together and owning a business together?
RKR: Our relationship is the most crucial part of our company. The better it is, the better our work will be. Having grown up together and designing work so related to this, we often just find ourselves on the same page. We talk a lot about what inspires us, which helps before we even get into designing and illustrating.
But our company is an extension of who we are, so we pour so much of ourselves into our company and the work we create. Naturally we get passionate about every decision. We spend a lot of time debating, doing our best to balance our interests with the reality of what's possible. When there are disagreements (and there are!) it's about flexibility, honesty and discussion. If one of us feels strongly about something in particular, neither of us are afraid to take risks and try new things. It's how we grow, learn and continue to offer our customers more of what they love.
Thanks so much Forest and Michael for your continued support of Canvas and Paddle! Stay tuned for more Q&A's from your other favorite artists we carry.
You can find Roo Kee Roo products in the shop by clicking the Shop tab above under "Paper" or clicking here.