High-tech space travel and down-home hospitality have seemingly little in common, but for Bradley Dean, owner and creative director of Bradley Dean Creative Services, they both serve as sources of inspiration.
Dean grew up in Huntsville, home to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. He developed an interest in art and design at an early age and was encouraged to follow that path by his parents. He even designed T-shirts and a logo for a band his brother played in. After high school, his interest in art would take Dean 70 miles west to Florence, where he would attend the University of North Alabama. It was there his current career began to take shape.
“I got my start working for Billy Reid early,” he said. “I was in college and got hooked up with this guy named Robert Rausch, who was an incredible mentor. That allowed me to start working with Billy through him, doing their website and working on the photo shoots.”
From there, Dean left Rausch to work with Reid full time.
Rausch, a Clio Award-winning designer and photographer (New York Times, Food & Wine, Southern Living) working out of a refurbished building in Tuscumbia, and Reid, the CFDA Award-winning clothing designer, are two thirds of the Shoals area creative glitterati trifecta, completed by fashion and lifestyle designer Natalie Chanin.
When asked about Alabama’s design legacy, Dean is quick to namecheck the trio.
“I think of Billy Reid, and I think of Butch Anthony, and Natalie, Robert Rausch,” he said. “Some of the people I’ve been fortunate to know and work with.” He also talks about noted Civil Rights photographer Charles Moore, with whom he got to work via Rausch.
Dean’s own design philosophy is rooted in authenticity mixed with luxury. The end goal is to elevate things, to create beautiful work that helps businesses succeed. He does that by offering everything from logo design and branding, to digital and social media marketing, to photography and video services. In addition to Billy Reid, he’s worked with lifestyle company Oxford, cycling hub The Spinning Spoke and Greasy Hands barber shop, among others.
Since opening his own shop four years ago, he’s returned home to Huntsville and works out of a corner studio in Lowe Mill, an old shoe factory and cotton mill turned curated artist incubator space. It’s one of the things, along with proximity to family, that drew Dean back home.
He also loves the geographic location. Between the internet and the ease of travel from nearby major airports, he can work from anywhere and has consequently never felt it necessary to leave North Alabama in order to do creative work.
“I like Huntsville; I like Florence. Each of those places have their own unique story,” he said. “I would say, think about how you can utilize resources in your local area to create something unique, that’s got its own story and blueprint, that is only capable of being told from that area.”
When he’s not working, Dean spends time with his wife, Jordyn, their two young sons, and their new baby girl.
“Being a dad and a husband really informs everything I do,” he said. “It helps me to remember to be balanced and how that applies to the businesses that I’m helping. And to communicate clearly and effectively. Not only at home, but to my clients.”
He and Jordyn also founded the Olympic-distance Renaissance Man Triathlon, which comprises a one-mile swim in the Tennessee River, a 25-mile bike ride around the Florence area, and a six-mile run through downtown Florence.
“There wasn’t a triathlon there,” he said, “And I’m kind of the guy … if it’s not there, I try not to complain about it. I want to make it happen.”