Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 74

2010s

Jeremy Collins

Outdoor Retailer 35th Anniversary

THE STORYTELLER
A climber, filmmaker, product designer, illustrator, and entrepreneur, Jeremy Collins defines what makes the outdoor
industry creative. He is reimagining how we tell our stories.
Written By Doug Schnitzspahn

I

n May 2009, alpine climbing rockstars
Jonny Copp and Micha Dash and filmmaker Wade Johnson, perished in an
avalanche on Mount Edgar in China's
Western Sichuan Province. Sure, untimely
deaths are a fact of the sport, but Jonny and
Micah exuded a rare contagious cheer and playfulness as they tackled tough ascents across the
planet. Their friend Jeremy Collins was floored.
"Jonny and I had a unique connection that
was far more full than just climbing," Collins
says. "We connected on art, philosophy, music...everything."
With Copp, Collins had pulled off one of the
most important climbs of his life, a groundup onsight of a new route in Colorado's Black
Canyon of the Gunnison called "Sistine Reality"
that required a 1,200-foot stretch where the
climbers left no fixed gear. It was the type of
shared challenge that transforms your life.
To deal with the death of his friends, Collins
responded in the only way that made sense to
him: He made art and he climbed. After all,
Collins had long been known to the climbing

74 OUTDOOR RETAILER

/ 35th Anniversary 2017

community as the popular illustrator for Rock + Ice magazine.
To grapple with loss and meaninglessness, Collins would seek
purpose by traveling across the
planet in all four cardinal directions. He would take on challenging objectives, climbs he had
wanted to do with Jonny-all the
while, trying to be the best father
he could be to his family back in
Missouri. He started by heading west. In California, Collins
and Mikey Schaefer put up a new
route called "Border Country"
on Yosemite's Middle Cathedral
Peak in Jonny and Micah's honor. Collins continued, seeking
meaning on the rock. East was
China; south, Venezuela; and
north, the far reaches of Canada's Yukon.
Then came the art. Collins told the story of
this global mission in Drawn: The Art of Ascent,
a mixed-media piece that is both film and book
and unlike any other outdoor adventure narrative. It won the 2015 Banff Mountain Book
Competition Award in Adventure Travel.
"Drawn wasn't just about Jonny, but his passing gave me a vision, you know?" say Collins. "I
know I'm not the only one who has dealt with
loss. I was compelled to create Drawn to say to
anyone watching or reading, 'you're not alone'."
Beyond his work as an artist, Collins has been
a fixture in the outdoor industry scene and in
the halls of Outdoor Retailer. He worked at
climbing brand Evolv as the creative director
from 2009-2012 and used his on-rock expertise
to design shoes.
"He's a climber, a father, a creative, a business person...and he's always giving," says Todd
Walton, who handled PR for Evolv when Collins
worked there. "He gives to the community and
shares something that's palpable in everyone."
Everyone was certainly interested in his art-

work-and core outdoor brands were happy to
put it on their apparel. "There was this moment
when Patagonia, prAna, and Outdoor Research
each had graphic tees that I had designed that
were their bestsellers of the year," Collins says.
"A lightbulb went off."
In 2014, he partnered with Frank Hintz of
American Backcountry and Jackson Burnett
from Vapor Apparel to form Meridian Line, a
"lifestyle brand" (Collins cringes at the term but
he's not sure what else to call it) that features
his inspiring artwork and slogans such as "The
Pursuit Is Happiness." Soon, Collins was presiding over a booth buzzing with climbers, retailers, fans, and free coffee at the show.
"The standard pattern of a lifestyle brand is
to have new graphics every season, but I had
the vision of it more as an archive, where my
best designs were always around in one way or
another," he says. "Within a year of launching,
we were in ten national parks, and REI shortly
thereafter. I guess the market was ready for us."
Picking up steam, Collins brought in former
prAna lead men's designer, Benji Thrasher. "We
collaborated on the brand and business vision
and co-designed an exciting lifestyle apparel
collection to support our outreach goals. The
collection infused my artwork with beautiful,
unique patterns, organic cotton, and fair trade
denim with an incredible fit," says Collins.
That success was bittersweet, however.
Collins' business partners did not agree with
the vision, and Meridian Line has fallen apart.
"It's been a hard lesson," says Collins, "but I'm
excited to move forward with Benji and work
on something new that we can be proud of. We
hope to reveal this new venture next season."
Despite the setback, Collins' creativity and
its infectious vibe are only on the rise. He has
tapped into something the industry always
needs: new vision in tough times.
"The role of the artist is to find beauty
amidst the bleak and tell the stories that carry us onward," he says. O.R.

photographs by ANDREW KORNYLAK



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Outdoor Retailer - July 2017

OUTDOOR RETAILER - JULY 2017
CONTENTS
CONTRIBUTORS
FIRST WORDS
THE TRIBE
GREG THOMSEN
YVON CHOUINARD AND GERRY LOPEZ
STEVE BARKER
THE SCENE
JEFF LOWE
PETER AND PATTY DUKE
BEAVER THEODOSAKIS
CARSON STANWOOD
CHAD GALLWITZ
JOHN MEAD
THE TORNADO
THE SCENE
SALLY MCCOY
JOHN STERLING
CASEY SHEAHAN
THE SCENE
MUSIC AND MEMORIES
PETER METCALF
SALLY JEWELL
CONRAD ANKER
JEN TAYLOR
DAN NORDSTROM
JEREMY COLLINS
JOANNA HOSHIMOTO
THE FUTURE
THE BACKSTORY
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - OUTDOOR RETAILER - JULY 2017
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - Cover2
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 1
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - CONTENTS
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 3
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - CONTRIBUTORS
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 5
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - FIRST WORDS
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 7
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - THE TRIBE
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 9
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 10
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 11
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - GREG THOMSEN
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 13
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 14
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 15
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - YVON CHOUINARD AND GERRY LOPEZ
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 17
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 18
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 19
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - STEVE BARKER
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 21
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 22
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 23
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - THE SCENE
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 25
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 26
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 27
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - JEFF LOWE
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 29
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - PETER AND PATTY DUKE
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 31
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - BEAVER THEODOSAKIS
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 33
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - CARSON STANWOOD
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 35
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - CHAD GALLWITZ
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 37
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - JOHN MEAD
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 39
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - THE TORNADO
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 41
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 42
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - THE SCENE
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 44
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 45
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 46
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 47
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - SALLY MCCOY
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 49
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 50
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 51
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - JOHN STERLING
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 53
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - CASEY SHEAHAN
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 55
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - THE SCENE
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 57
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 58
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 59
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - MUSIC AND MEMORIES
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 61
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 62
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 63
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 64
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 65
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - PETER METCALF
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 67
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 68
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - SALLY JEWELL
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - CONRAD ANKER
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 71
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - JEN TAYLOR
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - DAN NORDSTROM
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - JEREMY COLLINS
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - JOANNA HOSHIMOTO
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - THE FUTURE
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 77
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 78
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - 79
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - THE BACKSTORY
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - Cover3
Outdoor Retailer - July 2017 - Cover4
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