Rather Keen: A Slightly “Bookish” Brand

December 10, 2022

It’s 5:30 on a slightly chilly Thursday evening in downtown Tucson. I walk into a charming pop-up market at the Stillwell House to meet with Andrew Brozyna, the designer, and owner of Rather Keen. As the sun begins to set, the glimmering lights sparkle and the atmosphere livens up. Guests and vendors engage in lighthearted conversations and people sample glasses of champagne while choosing hors d’oeuvres (such as bruschetta and crostinis) set up for guests. There were several local artists who come out to the market to spread the word about their business and in the process, sell their products. I spot Andrew placing the finishing touches on his booth and I make my way over to chat with him.

Rather Unique

Rather Keen is a small business that produces lapel pins, hats, and greeting cards (to name a few products). It was nice to chat with Andrew while enjoying the excitement and cool weather at the pop-up market. I like to consider myself a creative person, so having the opportunity to have a conversation with Andrew, who has had several years of experience as a freelance artist illustrating book covers, was intriguing to me. Feelings of excitement began to overcome me for what I would learn throughout our conversation.

I quickly noticed the mid-century inspiration in many of the items at his booth. This particular style of art happens to be one of my favorites and is happening to regain popularity within the past few years. I appreciated the references to pop culture (particularly his “Baby Yoda” themed pins and stickers) throughout his booth. Anyone is bound to find a product they absolutely love, whether it is a greeting card, hat, lapel pin, sticker, or tote bag.

“Bookish” Products

I spotted his booth and was immediately drawn to his display of hats because it towered over his table and caught my attention. He tells me that he had just built the stand because he was inspired by the children’s book, “Books for Sale”, which just so happens to be one of the most memorable books from my childhood. I thought it was particularly clever not only for aesthetic purposes but also tied into a word he used several times throughout our discussion, “Bookish.” He mentions many of his products are book-related and that he spent several years as a book designer. He began to create products as he said “for fun” and based on books, movies, and television shows he liked and eventually began to sell a variety of lapel pins, stickers, earrings, and more. He then mentions that he began to shift more into creating hats, lapel pins, and tote bags rather than designing book covers for his freelance clients.

Andrew’s variety of lapel pins caught my attention due to their references to pop culture and bookish puns. One pin in particular that I would consider my favorite depicted a cat reading a book. Many of his tote bags and hats also carried this bookish theme. These products emphasized the need for books that kids will enjoy and teach a lesson that they will remember throughout their adulthood.

“Playful, Yet Sophisticated”

I asked Andrew about his tagline, “playful, yet sophisticated gifts” and what that means to him. He explained that in art school, a few of his classmates would talk about how to create a “smart” tagline. They said if you took two words, “playful” and “sophisticated” are conflicting words. I thought the use of a juxtaposition in his slogan was particularly clever. At this moment, the name Rather Keen became clear to me not only through his products but also through his marketing.

As our conversation began to wind down, I asked Andrew if he had any advice for future artists looking to start selling their artwork. He explained that it is important to find a balance between what you enjoy making and what people like to buy. He also added that paying attention to what sells while keeping a recognizable look that stands out compared to other products is crucial. As a self-proclaimed artist myself, I found his advice to be very motivating even though I don’t intend to sell any of my work. Looking around the pop-up market and even through Rather Keen’s social media, there is a certain je ne sais quoi about his artwork that makes it so clever and recognizable.

My Take on Rather Keen

After sitting down to chat with Andrew, I took the opportunity to walk around and immerse myself in the experience of the pop-up market where local vendors can sell their goods. I don’t find myself in these types of scenes often. There were several booths with vendors selling a variety of handcrafted goods. It was decorated with orange leaves, which tied in perfectly with the relatively late change in weather down here in Tucson. I began to understand why he chose this particular pop-up market to sell his products in– the atmosphere was warm and inviting, despite the temperature dropping by the minute as soon as the sun set below the Catalina Mountains. 

As I was getting ready to leave the pop-up market, I decided to buy my favorite pin (the one with the reading cat that I mentioned earlier). I had planned to gift it to my sister, but I decided to keep it for myself because I thought it would look perfect with the collection of pins on my backpack. I was so excited about my purchase that I immediately FaceTimed one of my close friends to show it to her. I realized the joy that Andrew’s products and art could bring to someone and felt grateful to have the chance to get to know him through our chat.


Maren Minerich is a student at the University of Arizona studying Nursing. In her free time, she enjoys creating art and spending time with her cat, Sushi.