You're the owner of "Rickard Guy". Tell us a bit about your label and company.
"Rickard" and "Guy" are my middle names. I started using them to do business when I was making art and didn't want my art and commercial leather craft to be confused. Really it just confused people as to what my name was. I still respond to "Rickard" often. Rickard Guy started around 2008 in Vancouver, BC when I was making moccasins and other footwear and leather goods. In New York, it was a studio where I practiced my craft and I also did shoe repair by appointment. In 2013, Rickard Guy was put on hold while I founded the Knickerbocker Mfg factory with Andrew Livingston and Kyle Mosholder. The experience of developing the manufacturing department and production process has informed what Rickard Guy is now in a very big way. We predominantly do small batch private label manufacturing of mostly baseball caps but also some leather accessories. Shoes, in some form, will hopefully get back in the mix, but we will see. I'm really enjoying where things are at the moment and the possibilities of the future. I have a great, hard working crew that allow me to work on developing our own label of caps and leather goods as well as work on new developments like furniture collaborations and expansions of our line into home goods and even a line of kid's caps.
My training as a craftsman began when I was 19 under Ross McGuigan, a second generation cobbler. He had a long grey ponytail down to his ass and a long grey beard and took me on, a young punk, as his apprentice.
Can you describe your background and training as a craftsman.
My training as a craftsman began when I was 19 under Ross McGuigan, a second generation cobbler. He had a long grey ponytail down to his ass and a long grey beard and took me on, a young punk, as his apprentice. I learned to work with my hands before using machinery and didn't touch a client's shoes until he felt I was ready. I was very fortunate to work with someone at the beginning that was passionate about the craft. I unfortunately didn't work with him very long and went on to work for a number of other cobblers and run a shop for one of them at 20 years old. With a desire to learn as much as I could, I worked at a factory making cowboy boots and ropers, an orthotic and prosthetic clinic as a technician building custom braces, and even the wholesaler that supplies all the materials to the industry. Then I opened my own shop. Eventually I worked with some folks, notably Marcell Mrsan, to apply what I knew to making shoes.
What draws you to the world of design, production and manufacturing.
I've always been drawn to this kind of thing. I started a T-shirt business when I was 14, made enough money for a complete skate and no longer felt the need to move forward. I also repaired and modified all my clothes. When I had holes in my shoes from skateboarding I would sew the leather patch from my jeans onto them and cover them in Shoe Goo, and restitch my Doc Martens with fishing line when the stitches on the sides would rot out.
When I started, there was no interest in the world of craftsmanship. Most of the people I worked with as cobbler were only there because they could smoke and drink at work and no one really cared.
The world of "designers and makers" seems to be expanding more than ever. What makes the difference between a good and a poor craftsman?
When I started, there was no interest in the world of craftsmanship. Most of the people I worked with as cobbler were only there because they could smoke and drink at work and no one really cared. As I mentioned earlier I was fortunate to start out with someone that did care and was a true craftsman. When I was learning he would make me try and fix something before showing me how to do it first. I was frustrated by this and he finally told me that he was trying to teach me to think. Also, he might learn something himself if I approached something without having first been shown. I'm grateful that the world of makers and designers is expanding. A true craftsman though will never stop learning and improving on their skills.The eyes should always be better than the hands. If you can't find the flaws in your own work you probably aren't very good.
A true craftsman though will never stop learning and improving on their skills.The eyes should always be better than the hands. If you can't find the flaws in your own work you probably aren't very good.
What advice would you give someone wanting to enter into this trade?
The best advice I could give to someone starting out in the trade is to find the best in the business and try to learn from them. Work for as many of them as you can because there are many ways to do any one thing and you will learn tricks and secrets that the next guy won't know or you would miss if you only worked with one person. It takes years to be truly proficient so be patient and do it because you love it.
As one of the founders of Knickerbocker Manufacturing Co. factory space, how would you describe what space is and what the artisans within it represent?
The Knickerbocker Manufacturing space is a group of creative businesses. We are all are able to learn from each other and improve our skills. In the beginning, when we took over the space, we knew we wanted to bring other makers and designers in to improve all our chances of survival. One of the benefits is there are always fresh eyes and unique approaches to problems that may come up during a project. It's a great reflection of how things have changed since I started. When I had my shop I couldn't beg someone to come in and learn the trade and now the pool of people is massive and always growing.
As a maker myself, there's nothing more satisfying than seeing the final product that comes from hours of labor. It's the sort of satisfaction that nothing else can compare to. Can you describe what that feeling is like for you.
One of the most satisfying things for me as a maker is not finishing something for the first time but finishing something for the hundredth time. When you've done something that many times you know it so well that you can focus on the finer points and not the basic fundamentals.
You recently completed a pretty complex project with Erickson Aesthetics. Can you talk a bit about that project and the reception it received.
Working with Ben at Erickson Aesthetics has been awesome! He has a great design approach and has allowed me to be quite involved in the development of the projects we've worked on together. The daybed we recently completed was very complex. One of the major challenges was time, not having enough to prototype before the show. The finished daybed was also the first prototype so each step of the way was a careful decision followed by a stressful action. Ben showed it, and the rest of his collection, at the most recent New York Architectural Digest show and won best in show. I felt very honored and proud to have had a hand in that.