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Amanda and Brendan O’Shaughnessy: “Ocean & Sea is about crafting a creative vessel.”

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If you’re from Kansas City, you’ve spotted their design, an imprimatur on T-shirts, hats, mugs and many more items. Amanda and Brendan O’Shaughnessy are the imaginative brains behind the famous LA-KC-NY logo, which came about quite surprisingly, changing the scope of their lives forever and unfurling the sails for their company, Ocean & Sea.

“It’s the most important design that we’ve come out with because it transformed our business, opened opportunities and connected us with boutiques. Everything started with that design and we’re grateful for the opportunities that came with it,” said Brendan. “It signified our KC pride but it also tied our community into a bigger picture by combining the love of KC with our importance on a national scale. People really responded to it.”

“Everybody seems to have their own personal story about the logo. The design puts KC in the middle of two major cities, and it bridges our landlocked community with the coasts,” commented Amanda. “There are also hidden signs inside of the design. We made two big arches at the top and it signifies B for Brendan. The greater than sign at the bottom is an A for Amanda. The hidden signs are in there and fun for the creator.”

The design has certainly made its rounds in the community and beyond. Even after nearly seven years in existence, items sporting the design sell like hotcakes. The couple estimates hundreds of thousands of pieces have been purchased from their website and the Made in KC boutiques. But the story is far from over, Amanda promises a new product line focused on the logo will come out soon on even more unique items.

Charting Courses for New Adventures
When Ocean & Sea sailed in 2013, it was labeled a “creative project” for the first six months to a year before offering the LA-KC-NY merchandise. As Brendan explains, it was the couple’s way of taking control over their creative growth and exploring new mediums and processes while working full-time jobs.

“Our creative play, as I like to call it, is the core of what our business represents, which is simply to keep the passion alive and translate our findings to client work and merchandise,” he shared. “We try to live the Dream Again slogan, which is enjoying a continuous calling to live our vision as best as possible and continue to push and learn.”

After working for other companies in full-time positions, Brendan jumped full force into the Ocean & Sea business. Amanda continued as an elementary art teacher in the Blue Valley system because she loves to foster the love of art in others. She attributes the name of the company, Ocean & Sea, to those youngsters. Most of her students had difficulties pronouncing her last name of O’Shaughnessy so she created the homophone of Ocean and Sea to enable them to grasp it. It worked like a charm and the couple adopted it as the name of their fledgling enterprise.

This pair of creatives met when they were teenagers and have been together ever since. Now, they call the city of Prairie Village, Kansas, their home. During their time together, they have founded one of the most progressive creative outlets in the KC metro. “Our process is truly a collaborative one. We enjoy working with and learning from other people. I do excel in some things but I don’t know everything,” shared Brendan. “Amanda offers her art, design, critique eye and project execution skills to the business. Working together, we bring different perspectives, resulting in multiple eyes on the same problem.”

“I love the process of ideation as we create a new logo or letter marks. I enjoy sketching thumbnails because it’s exciting for me and feels like fun,” noted Amanda. “I’m not so good at the computer, but Brendan is a whiz about it.”

The couple notes that Ocean & Sea has been about crafting a creative vessel. Evolving and discovering new ways of meeting client needs is a continuing motif of their business. At this time, the couple has slowly pivoted to primarily focusing on client work, which includes brand identity, logo design, illustration, packaging and other graphic design-related needs.

“Our current client focus is in the food/beverage, health and hospitality pillars,” remarked Brendan. “We’ll always create product, sell product out of our storefront on Johnson Drive and promote our love of Kansas City. We’ve just diversified our strategic focus, and as a result, we’ve been able to grow; it’s very exciting. Obviously, the LA-KC-NY design is what we are best known for and was a great chance to market our company in the Kansas City region and beyond.”

Art for the Masses
While Amanda is dedicated to Ocean & Sea in a collaborative setting, she also thrives in an educational environment, which is demonstrated by her teaching career. But she’s expanding this ability to share her love of art with those beyond elementary school with her Studio Art Club endeavor. She recalls that last year became one of ideation and organization. Her first set of workshops came in March 2021, focused on developing pop-up art workshops on printmaking or ceramic for all ages. Amanda offers instruction on the technique while the students decide on the final product.

“I love teaching clubs and extracurricular art. My classes are open for all ages: kids, adults and young adults in a popup format, and I supply all of the materials,” she shared. “Sign up for my newsletter on my website and then choose the workshops you’re interested in. I call Studio Art Club art for all because it gives people the taste for art that they thought they forgot.”

Amanda is hoping to move into more mobile workshops that bring the workshop to the attendees. Think birthday party or girls’ night out. She’s not into demanding that the final product look a particular way but more of an open-ended discussion to share guidelines on how to use the materials so that the attendees experience the full aspect of creating art.

With a solid seven years of experience with their company behind them, Brendan and Amanda have their eyes set on moving into branding for companies. “We’ll continue to focus on our three main pillars of food/beverage, health and hospitality industries,” remarked Brendan. “I’m passionate about those and see myself doing this for quite some time but on a much bigger scale.”

Plotting Their Course
The founders of Ocean & Sea have set their horizons on fair seas and following waves for their business as they continue to evolve and grow. These past years of running a successful business through the good and lean times have taught them much and they share their learnings with others.

“I advise those starting out or those already in business to hire experts and people who know what they’re doing to build your brand, whether it’s branding your logo or building your web presence,” Amanda noted. “You can’t do it all; you need others to be in your corner.”

“One of the biggest things is to start small but start now. If you’re passionate, now is the best time to start because the quicker the better, but it doesn’t have to go from zero to one hundred in one day. One hour a day in a week turns into a full workday. People underestimate the ability to get things done,” promised Brendan. “But remember, the most successful fail the fastest. This didn’t work or this didn’t work, but you discover through experience.”

“That’s also true with art. Perfectionism can stunt your growth but you can take little steps to reach your goal,” stated Amanda. “People say to us that they can’t draw a perfect circle but neither can we. Yet, that’s not going to hold us back.”

As Ocean & Sea continues to grow and prosper, Amanda and Brendan offer some final learnings focused on the ability to enjoy life while also taking on new challenges to stimulate the senses. “I want people to remember that they can do a little bit every day but do something creative consistently, every day,” noted Amanda. “You don’t have to think everything needs to be perfect. Doing anything is a process but be in it and do it. Experiment and feel it. Art is a meditative process so slow down and feel the experience. One of my favorite quotes is, ‘We draw to see; we don’t draw to get better.’”

“Our culture has developed into being super hard on ourselves. I say have patience with yourself and believe in yourself to move forward. In my journey, I’ve doubted my self-expression, my self-esteem. But in this season of my career, I can shut off the most analytical parts of my brain so I can create,” remarked Brendan. “So don’t fight the natural flow of your life, and it’s okay to make mistakes. If I’ve learned something from the experience, then no one can take that away from me.”