An Interview with Josh Reichlin of Made to Thrill
Recently, I stumbled upon a relatively new lifestyle brand geared towards theme park enthusiasts, Made To Thrill.
Made To Thrill describes themselves as a lifestyle brand that celebrates the sharp turns, fast drops, and unbridled joy of thrill rodes and theme parks. I wanted to learn more, so I tracked down Made To Thrill founder and owner, Josh Reichlin, and asked him a few questions.
C101: Tell us a little bit about yourself and Made to Thrill.
Josh Reichlin: My name is Josh Reichlin hailing from Chicago,IL. I’m a multi-disciplined artist in graphic design, film, photography, and wearing fresh Adidas. I also quite passionate about food, theme parks, and dancing.
Made to Thrill is a lifestyle brand that I started in summer of 2014. It fuses my love for beautiful design with dynamic thrill rides and inspiring theme parks. Currently, the product line stretches from apparel to posters/prints to other limited edition collectables. But there are a bunch of other projects in the works that will eventually branch out to other genres. All of our products are manufactured through companies in the USA and produced in small, limited runs. This gives us the freedom to do a lot of different products rather than focusing on keeping just one specific item in stock.
C101: How did you first become interested in design?
JR: My earliest memory of appreciating design was from visiting EPCOT Center in the late 80’s and early 90’s. The beautifully contrasting gradients and elegant line art for each of the pavilions were so insanely cool that I truly felt like I had been immersed in a futuristic utopia. As a kid, I had no idea that these designs were thoughtfully crafted in order to evoke that very feeling, I just thought they looked super cool. As I grew older, I learned more about the process of design and how it impacts human emotions. Just by drawing a few lines, taking a photo, or recording a video I was able to tap into the feelings of others. It was a pretty rad discovery that led me down a super-technical path throughout high-school and college focusing on film/video/motion graphics, web/graphic design, and photography. I was all about anything design and remain so to this day.
C101: How did you first become interested in theme parks?
JR: I owe all of that to my family, specifically my older brother and sister. I grew up in a Disney household were we all worshiped the mouse. We didn’t take trips down to the holy land of Orlando very often but when we did, it was a magical experience. Growing up, my brother would get me excited by telling me about all the things we were going to do in the parks. At the time, all of the roller coasters frightened me to death. I would only wait in the line and then walk across the train to the exit when it was time to board. My family tried to push me but I wouldn’t do it. Eventually, my brother and I would start taking trips to our local theme park, Six Flags Great America, where the coasters were way bigger than in Disney.
Here, I spent a lot of time waiting in lines only to step across the train to the exit. I got to know the intricacies and theming of each queue. I remember my favorite being Batman in 1993. It was so awesome going through the “nice” part of Gotham in the park into the “bad” neighborhood with all the graffiti, trash, and crashed cop car. Looking back on it now, I appreciated the story telling and immersive experience that started in the queue and ended with the ride. Although, in my experience, it started with the queue, skipped the ride, and culminated with the exit.
It took a lot of pushing from my brother and walking across every ride in the park before I actually made the decision to sit down and pull the restraint over my shoulders on the Demon. It was awesome. When it was over, my brother looked over to me and said, “You did it. You conquered the Demon.” along with a solid high-five. After that, I was hooked on coasters.
C101: How did you make the decision to combine the two to create a theme park lifestyle brand?
JR: When I go to a park I usually look in the gift shops to take home a little souvenir marking my trip. Having a long-standing romance with all things design, nothing in the gift shops really moved or inspired me the same way the park or rides do. So I decided I’d make screen print my own t-shirt of a ride that I truly miss, Shockwave at Six Flags Great America which generated some interest.
I made a few more designs and screen printed them onto a couple of t-shirts for myself. Eventually, that led to the formation of Made to Thrill. Perhaps you could say I formed the brand out of necessity for having a simple t-shirt honoring one of my favorite coasters. It’s a brand that is created by a theme park enthusiast, for theme park enthusiasts.
C101: Tell us about your process from the start of a project to completion?
JR: I basically visit/ride, photograph, and sketch out the design that comes to me after my experience. Once I get a design down, I refine, revise and iterate until I get it to a place I like (which my closest friends would tell you can take me quite a while to actually like what I’m designing). Then I connect with the manufacture. If it’s a poster, t-shirt, pin, patch, sticker, etc. they’re all different people with different methods of creating the finished product. So there is a dialog between us and approvals that are made. Then after I receive it, I do a lengthy photography session of the product. Then it’s ready to go up in the shop!
C101: Where do you get your inspiration from?
JR: Everywhere. People watching, trend spotting, visiting parks, movies, friends, co-workers, product packaging, vintage designs, Twitter, Instagram, Dribbble, and of course, my full-time job as a User Experience Designer and watching how users interact and navigate through designs I create (I really learn a ton from that — just listening to what people have to say about their experience).
C101: You have some great pieces inspired from Cedar Point. Are there plans to expand that collection?
JR: Absolutely. Hoping to release up to 4 new posters before the holidays from all different parks.
C101: Do you have plans to create poster or shirt designs for other parks?
JR: Most definitely. It’s hard to keep up with all the requests for individual parks and rides but I have a limited edition screen print coming out that might help solve for some of that 😉
C101: What’s your favorite theme park?
JR: I’d have to say EPCOT Center for nostalgic purposes. But I also love Universal Studios Orlando, Busch Gardens Tampa, and my home park Six Flags Great America.
C101: What’s your favorite roller coaster?
JR: I have too many to name! But a few would be, Shockwave at Six Flags Great America (now defunct), The Hulk at Islands of Adventure, The Beast at Kings Island, Cheetah Hunt at Busch Gardens Tampa, X2 at Six Flags Magic Mountain, and the back seat of American Eagle at Six Flags Great America.
C101: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know?
JR: If they join the Made to Thrill club they’ll get sneak peeks at upcoming products, priority notice of limited edition releases, and of course, discounts!