It’s a rare breed of person who’s not afraid to move (which is really just another word for change). Because when these people move, they do so in every sense of the word: dropping everything, trying a new angle and maybe even ending up back where it all started. You should care about this personality type because it’s what makes the best developers. And one of ours is Bryan Reckamp.
You can’t spell Reckamp without camp. You can’t talk about Bryan’s formative years without it, either. With a brother two years to either side of him, the boys and parents Ray and Judy set off in a blue station wagon with wood paneling—one of those 70s road boats—and experienced everything the US had to offer outside their home base of University City, MO. Because of it, he’s been to every state save for Hawaii, and strangely enough, South Dakota and Idaho.
Bryan was quick to see what he could make of his surroundings. Around the age of 3, his father remembers him finding a compression spring and making a rudimentary pinball machine. WHAT? I know. Sons of engineers, I tell ya. But his mother’s more romantic side was equally present.
Bryan’s first concert was Dionne Warwick and Friends when he was six years old. The opening act was a comedian. His brain library had not yet encountered curse words, and he remembers the comedian’s jokes being interspersed with big, soundless blanks.
The travel bug isn’t something that can really be cured. But it can be tempered with art: a space for discovery all its own. As a kid, Bryan started his career of creation with restaurant logos. “I know they involved martini glasses, ’cause my child brain thought those were classy.” Then in 5th grade, BMX became all-consuming. While wearing out a VHS of the movie Rad, he and his friends turned to drawing their biking company logos on Trapper Keepers. Hey, you never know when they’d get sponsored, and they’d be damned if a lack of brand identity held up their gangly teenage dreams.
After the passing of his mother in 7th grade, Bryan dove headfirst into fine art, microwave burritos and Crystal Light. A few years later in high school, his art teach Mrs. Kennedy let a few freshman clear out a storage room and make a little art studio. “We were little adolescent Van Gogh and Gauguin. Especially me and my friend Juan. We had different styles. He would tell me to get loose, and I’d tell him to tighten up.”
The station wagon became a recurring subject in much of Bryan’s art.
Bryan visited exactly one college with his father and stepmother. The first one was a good one, and he was happy to reduce the number nights in a shared room with his snoring parents. So off to Winthrop, a small state school in South Carolina, he went. He brought a 1970s Honda Hobbit that he restored with his friend, Tim. Bryan claims it was stolen from his apartment there by County Fair carnies. When pressed for any evidence, he will tell you that the police didn’t care, but he noticed it went missing the day the fair rolled out. He really misses how his 6 feet, 4 inches looked like a bear on a tiny bike.
Bryan transferred from the South to the North and the Rhode Island School of Design. RISD’s structure forced him to pick a major and limited the classes to those offered in that department. No matter, because Bryan moved on to the Art Institute of Chicago where he could take any class he wanted. And from there, he graduated.
One college summer, Bryan apprenticed as a gondolier-in-training in Forest Park. While he thought he looked quite spiffy in stripes, a refusal to sing cost him what could have been the gig of a lifetime. Also, he was never actually paid.
Still in Chicago, Bryan got his first design job at a children’s pajama company, putting the ilk of Bob the Builder on little cotton tops and bottoms. This is also where he cut his teeth on web stuff including HTML and CSS.
Then 9/11 happened and it set off a chain of events that included a break up, moving into his grandparent’s house and driving their old 1984 Chrysler New Yorker, getting a design gig designing at the Missouri Botanical Garden, traveling around Europe after his ridiculously in-love grandparents died within days of each other, coming back to STL to work at The Melting Pot, moving to Yosemite, and landing at a San Francisco photo gallery in 2005. There was another move to and from STL with his high school friend, Juan, helping him open an art gallery called Boots. Then comes my personal favorite…
Bryan got wind that 42 Below, a vodka brand, was paying 42 people to bike across the country. He was selected to participate and rode from NYC to LA. Upon arriving in LA, in true Bryan fashion, he decided to keep going and eventually rode to the southern tip of Mexico. “Everyone was so nice. We were sleeping in people’s barns and on hidden beaches. We’d put canned tuna on tostadas and call it ceviche.”
See, Bryan didn’t want to just ride to Mexico; he wanted to ride through Mexico and onto everywhere else but the United States. He thought this trip could put his restlessness to rest once and for all—that “it would be like when you want to quit smoking so you smoke a carton and it’s over.” But! A case of typhoid and empty wallet syndrome put the brakes on the bike adventure. Back to STL he went.
It’s 2010 and Bryan is back in town. He falls in love with his now wife, Abby. He solidifies his name as a developer: a nice combo of creativity plus objective engineering. He's buys back the black 1990 Volvo 240 wagon he sold years before. A classic, iconic car that screams an almost ironic normalcy.
When putting together this bio, Bryan was surprised to find so many fossils from his past. “I moved so many times, I didn’t think I had anything left.”