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  • Writer's pictureRyan Marshall

Screen printing.......... life.

Screen printing and apparel decoration has been a new adventure for me when it comes to a profession. For the past 5 years I have been decorating apparel as a side gig in my garage. It didn't matter if I printed 10 projects in a week or 1 in a month. I loved having something to do that allowed me to express my creative side.

Being a percussionist and a performer for almost 20 years, I needed something to release the beast inside. The beast that rips at you with a voice that never stops screaming. "you are more than this" the voice says. The beast tells you to do something but, doesn't tell you what to do or how to do it. you can either live with that beast inside or let it out and see what happens.

After finishing up my career as a performer I went on to teach many different ensembles and private students. I lived through my work. I still played a little when I would perform with the Detroit Lions Drum Line. Believe it or not playing with them was like a retired professional baseball player going out once a week to play beer league softball. Yes, it was a ton of fun and I was able to perform again and even get to play with people like Andy Grammar and perform with Nickleback. The beast had to be when the Lions went to play in London and we went along with them. But, the beast inside was still screaming for more.

I was working as an auto glass installer. I had been there for 10 years and it seemed like the perfect fit. I always enjoyed cars growing up and started to go to school to be an auto mechanic after high school but quickly found out that going to college for auto mechanics was DUMB. That is another long story. It was a perfect fit because I made decent money and my boss was probably the best boss one could ever have. He was very understanding of my passion for performing as well as teaching. If I needed to take time off or leave early to do my thing, he had no problem with it. But once the performances stopped and the teaching slowed I became unhappy. I thought I was just turning in to a REAL grown up. Working the 9-5, paying my bills and finding someone to settle down with. Got married and life was great! Then, with a sudden change in life I realized that I was just living day by day waiting for the next day I could enjoy life. My marriage was ending while all my friends were getting married. Watching all the others move on with their career while I’m left behind with my 9-5 auto glass job. Don't get me wrong it was a great job and should not be looked down upon but, for me it just wasn't a life I wanted. My life was circling the drain. I thought I was happy because I was divorced and free again but, in all reality, I was falling deeper and deeper in to the hole. I was going out all the time trying to act like the 21-year-old with the world in front of me. But, when I would come home and go to work the next day. It was back to reality every day.

Once I met my girlfriend, Amber I thought life started to turn around. I was getting back to the life I had before the witch entered my life. Settling down again, Amber has a beautiful daughter and I am wrapped around that little girl’s finger. Her and I would have a ton of fun and be able to just enjoy each other’s company just by sitting there and doing nothing. I am not a rich guy and don't make a ton of money, but she made me feel rich beyond belief. But there was something still screaming inside.


I retired from teaching, but I was still hanging on as a performer with the Lions Drum Line. I didn't really enjoy it as I thought I should. But, I still did it. Last year while rehearsing for the upcoming season I was asked to do something a little crazy. When I first became a member of the drum line we were wild and young doing whatever it took to get the crowed go crazy. Fast forward 10 years and I was not so wild. I was asked if I could jump over my drums and catch sticks at the same time. I was skeptical because I was older and not as limber but, I tried it anyway. It worked a few times and while trying to work out the timing I came down from the jump only to hear POP in my knee and down the ground I went. when my knee became the size of a softball I realized I did something bad. After a trip to the ER I found I broke my knee in two places. Now my life was turned upside down again. I couldn't work at all. I was on strict orders to not move my leg at all and don't even think about putting weight on it. Once again life was circling the drain. I was staring at rock bottom but not there yet. I was still facing a ton of debt from my failed marriage, I wasn't working, and now medical bills were piling up. All I could think about was what it was going to be like when I finally hit rock bottom.

With the brace on my leg I try to east breakfast while my dogs wait for me to give them something.

While dealing with the broken knee and trying to figure out how I am going to make it through the next few weeks financially, I had a revelation. Why wait for rock bottom to come? Why am I trying as hard as I can to stay off rock bottom when all I was doing is holding up my feet, so I don't touch the bottom.

I have this thing I like to do. this thing makes me happy when I am doing it and I can make money while doing it, apparel decoration. But, this adventure was not going to be easy. In fact, it would be a lot harder than what I was dealing with now. So instead of waiting for rock bottom to come I just jumped down to it. I took the plunge and told my boss I would not be coming back when my knee healed. I now have the time to build my business and crawl out of the hole.

So now hear I am almost close to a year after the knee break and still plugging away. Have I crawled off the bottom? Eh kind of, I find a way off but then fall again. This is not an easy process and I still have a long way to go. But I’m happy with what I am trying to do and have constant drive to make it happen. Do I want to be a millionaire, no. I just want to do what makes me happy and be comfortable doing it.

Now instead of trying to live a life that was leaving me behind I am servicing those thing that once made me happy. Since I have all the experience as a performer and tons of contacts I have been able to service tons of different groups around the country.

This adventure is not over in fact it's just getting started, and rock bottom is still a very scary thing I am starring at. But, to look at what I have done in just this past year keeps me motivated to keep pushing. I have a great life now with an amazing woman that is wanting to be on this adventure with me. So much has happened and there is so much more to come.

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