Eric Woolsey, like many people today, is seeking the right balance in his life. One way he accomplishes this is through his small business, Balance Lifestyle Company, where he creates original linoleum cut prints and screen prints the images on unique apparel for extreme sport and outdoor enthusiasts.
I met Eric in a conversation thread on Facebook. I viewed more of his work and was able to visit his shop in Sudden Valley to learn more about him and his designs.
Eric grew up in various places around Puget Sound and enjoys a variety of extreme individual sports. He and his wife, Mandi, have two kids – nine year-old Zoe and five year-old Gavin. The family moved to Bellingham last December to be closer to the things Eric loves: mountain biking, skate boarding and the great outdoors. They like the idea of raising their family here.
Eric works full time providing on-call maintenance for his father’s multiple franchise businesses. Even though he spends a lot of time on the road, Eric finds time to put his design talents to good use.
He has always been an artist. One of his high school teachers (Mrs A. from Bothell High School) made an impression on him. She encouraged her students to think outside the box. For one memorable lesson, she asked them to make something, perfect it, and then cut it up and create something else with the pieces. Assignments like this resonated with Eric, who went on to study for a year at the School of Visual Concepts.
His teachers encouraged Eric’s parents to champion his creativity and, in this case, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree – Eric’s mom owns An Artful Touch in Kirkland. When he started his design and screen print business, she supplied some of the materials he needed, along with a lot of moral support. “I couldn’t have done it without her,” Eric said.
Eric originally made T-shirts to support his mountain bike habit, bartering his creations for bike parts. Over time his designs developed a following and he found he really loved the process. Currently, his small-batch product line features shirts, hats, hoodies and prints. Each piece is “signed” with a stylized logo that stands for “Sterling Magnum,” his biking name.
“Micro-fashion” is Eric’s term for this clothing line. Each item starts with a design he creates as a print and every single layer of each print is done by hand. Screens are then burned in order to print the designs on items. Lack of time prevents him from doing much more at this time. However, he does see the potential for turning his art into a full-time business in the future.
His company name came from Eric’s feeling that the balance between his family/work/life and “making” just wasn’t where he wanted or needed it to be. Now he gives creating time its due place in his life.
When asked about his competitors, Eric rephrased the question, calling them his “community” and adding that he’s in “good company.” He seems to have a way of spinning things toward the positive.
Among those Eric mentioned is Kristina Wayte, owner of Sketchy Trails. “She’s such an amazing artist,” he said. “It’s unreal. I love her use of brushwork and, if I’m not mistaken, she’s putting some of her designs on tees as well, which is awesome.”
“Adam McCoy at Treelines does some of the most killer mountain bike tee-shirts and trail building gear around,” according to Eric. “Adam has become such a mentor to me. He was supportive, encouraging and forthcoming with information that helped me figure everything out thus far. It’s hard to relay how much I appreciate his friendship.”
Eric is grateful to Kristina, Adam and many other artists in the extreme sport community for the support they have given him.
As he expanded his line, Eric began a series of shirt designs that highlight specific areas or trails so people could have a “little something cool” from their travels. He focused on mountain bike trails he enjoys in the Leavenworth area, including Xanadu Trail, Rosie Boa, Galbraith and Chuckanut mountains. There are hundreds of trails to illustrate, which could keep him busy for quite some time.
Boundary Bay and Aslan Brewery both invited Eric to showcase his work in 2017. Soon he was hustling to make prints and building frames for them both. It was a lot of work, but well worth the effort for Eric. “It’s an honor to be in a show as an artist,” he said.
Eric said he’s still a “work in progress” as an artist. He’d love to have you join him as he works toward his goal of bringing a unique artistic vision to affordable extreme sports apparel. As he figures out what images work best in print and on clothing, he mostly hopes that you dig his art!