Photo: Matthew Windsor
Nate and Bree Millard are successfully navigating the art world. In the last year, they have elevated their brand, Ban Supply Collaboration, increased the commissions of their woodcut signs and locked in the contract to create the new Brighton IPA label for Uinta Brewing Company. It might sound like I’m reading from an annual report for a major business, but Ban Supply Co. consists of two hardworking artists making awesome art in a backyard studio. With big smiles and cold beers, the Millards welcomed me into their home and studio to discuss their journey to becoming artists.
Nate moved to Utah in 1997 for the same reason many people call Utah home: to ski and ride our majestic mountains, and met a gorgeous blonde (Bree) who could charge the mountain and rival the boys on the half pipe. The two would have many more chance encounters until, eventually, this duo became official—in marriage, and then as the artists Ban Supply Co.
The Millards, like many artists, had to experiment to find the right medium for their artistic expression. Photography was their first love: Bree focused on still life and urbanism while Nate pursued action sports, even doing a stint as a SLUG photographer. In 2010, they incorporated their love of photography and snowboarding into a social-media site featuring all things Brighton. The Brigtown Chronicles serves as a supplement to the Brighton Ski Resort page, but focuses on photos and videos highlighting local riders, Brighton’s vast terrain, après beers and the latest gear. “The Brigtown Chronicles crew consists of many talented and dedicated snowboarders who have been riding and supporting Brighton for many years,” says Nate.
It was a fellow Brighton snowboarder and artist Josh Scheuerman and his annual Art Adoption Show that introduced the couple to an expansive art community. Through the Art Adoption Show, the Millards met Phil Sherburne and Leia Bell, owners of the art and frame shop Signed & Numbered. Bree fell in love with the shop, its aesthetic, and Sherburne’s and Bell’s entrepreneurial spirit. She approached the couple and asked if they needed any help around the store. Bree began working at Signed & Numbered immediately, learning everything she could. She explored screen-printing first, but found that she was most interested in learning about the vintage finishes used on the frames. “I loved the levels and the look it produced. It all clicked, and I became addicted to vintage finishes,” she says.
Ban Supply Co’s current product line features custom-designed, vintage poster- and sign-inspired woodcut renderings that are hand-drafted, routed out and meticulously painted. Much of their work is inspired by their love of traveling, mountain biking, beer and snowboarding. Each piece is handcrafted in their own backyard workshop, which bears striking resemblance to Santa’s Workshop.
Having worked as an architectural drafter for seven years, Nate brings a lot of design elements to their work. While he enjoys working with the woodcuts, Nate’s focus is on the layout, typography and creation of new designs. He bounces ideas off of Bree, and she relies on him to keep everything lined up before she starts chiseling away. “Nate does a lot of the prep work,” she says. “He’s super meticulous with tracing the design on the wood and keeping it all in line—he makes sure we have a good foundation before I start cutting it up.”
What a difference finding their preferred medium of woodcutting has made for their lives! Less than a year ago, they were showing and selling art at another of Scheuerman’s Art Adoption shows when they met Lindsay Berk, Marketing Manager at Uinta Brewing Company. “We were instantly impressed with their talent,” says Berk. “Aside from them being local, their medium is one that aligns closely with the ‘look and feel’ of the Uinta brand—hiring Nate and Bree to do some [initial] art pieces for us was a no-brainer.” From that chance meeting, the Millards were commissioned to reproduce nine of Uinta’s most iconic beer labels into woodcuts, which now grace the halls of Uinta Brewing Company’s headquarters in SLC.
The Millards were well aware of Uinta’s history of hiring local artists to produce beer labels—friends and mentors Travis Bone and the aforementioned Bell both designed labels for Uinta’s Crooked Line beers, but in their wildest dreams they never thought that in such a short time, they’d be asked to create the look of Uinta’s Brighton IPA. Their hard work, professionalism and good nature landed them not only a label but that of their beloved home ski resort. “It all happened so fast. We always thought, ‘What if they let us a design a label,’ but the fact that it was for Brighton was just crazy. I’m not even sure Uinta fully knew our ties to Brighton, but it just worked out this way,” Bree says.
With such a high-profile project, they needed to work closely with Brighton and Uinta to come up with the right look to represent the brand and the resort. For the Millards, the pressure was compounded by the fact that these are two brands near and dear to them and that their work would be on the shelves for all to see. In the end, Berk, on behalf of Uinta says, “We love the new label. They totally nailed it!”
If you’d like to see the label up close and personal and try this tasty beer, visit your local Harmons, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Fresh Market, Dan’s and select Maverik Stores. Of course, you can find it at Brighton Ski Resort, too. For more information about Ban Supply Co. and Nate and Bree Millard’s work, visit bansupplyco.com.