Maker: Multi Material Designer Jere Dean of Urban Octopus

Jere Dean isn’t a one trick pony– He’s been honing his multi material designer skills for upwards of 20 years, and it’s all come together in his brand, Urban Octopus. Here, he discusses his vision and motivation for his art. Enjoy!


please introduce yourself!

Hello! my name is Jere Dean. I’m a passionate designer of things that relate to my life. I grew up in Philadelphia, PA…well, right outside the city in a very small town but spent a lot of my time exploring the city. I currently live in San Diego, CA.

what do you make or do?

Well, I really just experiment…in the form of T-shirts, posters, screen prints and this and that. I’ve always worked professionally as a graphic designer/ illustrator. I’ve studied film, web, animation, editing and photography. then my brand Urban Octopus was born around 8 years ago. It has slowly evolved to where it is now. So I now think of it as I just make ART.

I try very hard to create art that has an indirect question or story to each piece; or rather, just make a simple connection with people. I make designs wrapped around my own personal passions in my life. So someone can relate to it, in their own way. That is all I want.

where can we find your creations?

You can find my product on my website and about 100 small and big stores scattered around the world and on Facebook: as well as Instagram: urbanoctopus

how long have you been creating and is it your full-time job?

Yep! This is my full-time, part-time and over-time job. Basically, I work all the time, partly because that is what you need to do when you run your own biz… and mostly because I LOVE what I do! I launched Urban Octopus in 2006, but have been creating for over 20 years. A lot of my designs were actually created 15 – 20 years ago when I was dreaming of starting a T-shirt brand.

I have worked for various design firms as an independent designer for a while to help support myself and fund my business. When I first launched Urban Octopus, it was very hard to split my time between designing for clients and growing my own business, so in 2010 it was time for me to make a decision and commit all my time to one. I truly believed in my self and that I had something here that is real and needs my full attention. So the full-time job at Urban Octopus began.

when you’re not making things, what do you do?

I spend time with my family (I have a 3 year old daughter). I love to collect old vintage bicycles and, of coarse, ride them. I love to mountain bike, hike, surf a little and camp. Traveling is so important in my life, seeing the world, meeting new people, there is nothing better than being on the road, free to explore something new.

is creativity a luxury or a necessity for you?

Wow! Good question. For me, it’s a means to keep on living but it also pays my bills. Little bit of both.

what obstacles have you had to overcome to lead a creative life?

Yea, I’ve experienced a ton of ups and downs and I probably always will, learning from all my mistakes. I throw a lot of stuff against the wall see what sticks and do it all over and over again till things seem to work. People still tell me to this day that artists never make money. I’m out to prove them all wrong.

did someone in your family, a friend or teacher introduce you to your creative side or have they helped you along the way?

I had really good teachers in high school. They instilled a good balance of fine art and graphic design in me.

where do you find inspiration?

My brand is wrapped around all my passions and inspiration, bicycles, traveling, old vintage cars, animals, trees, people, and the ocean.

When I travel, I take so many photographs, sketch out ideas, when I get back to my studio the designing begins. I really never know where a design is going to take me. Could be so simple, or I may do 25 variations of it till I’m happy with it. Each one sort of just evolves…

what’s on the horizon for you and what you do?

I’m going back to the roots a bit and doing a series of larger one-of-a-kind pieces, I guess more of a fine art approach. I just moved my studio into a larger space in downtown San Diego, so in 2014 I plan to open it as a gallery space for my work / pop-up store- not a retail store- sort of a in-between and a bit more unique, I think. Something different and fresh.

if money wasn’t an issue how would your life change with regards to your art?

Ha! I would just focus on the art…experiment more, travel more, learn more and hopefully inspire more.

what would be your perfect day off?

Campfire in Joshua Tree with good friends and family, or drinking an espresso in Paris with my wife.

what inspiring advice would you give to other creatives, be they established or just starting out?

Got to keep on trying…never give in/up, dream big, fight, sweat, work hard, keep on working hard and then do it over and over and over again. One day you will look back and you will be proud of what you have created. Then you can smile and breathe.

who are the makers that inspire you?

Any maker that puts the time in, works hard, keeps their art real is an inspiration to me.

urban octopus dear handmade life

urban octopus dear handmade life

urban octopus dear handmade life

urban octopus dear handmade life

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