Lyons fills the gap left by former design director and co-founding partner Andrew Kibble, who left the agency in July. Prior to Lyons' five years at Urban Outfitters, the RISD film school and CalArts grad school alum already had a seasoned career working on youth brands like Stussy Worldwide and Spike Jonze's Girl Skateboard Company, not to mention a good number of contract projects for ad agencies. His designs have also graced shoes for Nike, retail environments for UO and numerous t-shirts for his own "Natural Born" line and other brands—500 of the latter appear in his book Pussy and Papers Poetry Power and Pistols. Lyons was also the first U.S. art director of Tokion magazine, where he hand-drew everything.
Given his background, it's hardly a surprise that when Lyons told friend and former Tokion owner Adam Glickman he was interested in leaving his retail gig for the world of marketing and advertising, Glickman had only one thing to say.
"He said you're going to hate working for any ad agency in New York," Lyons explains. "But, there's this one agency that's going against the grain." Glickman introduced Lyons to Anomaly partner Mike Byrne, who had been familiar with Lyons' design work, especially his obsession with typography. Although Lyons had also been thinking about top shops like Wieden and Ogilvy, Anomaly's level of entrepreneurialism appealed to him. This was the nontraditional agency to suit his nontraditional resume.
"A lot of ad agencies say give me your product, I'll sell it," says Lyons. "Anomaly says we want to participate in the innovation of (Anomaly client) Converse's brand. How can we improve the shoes? How can we do t-shirts? Kind of sticking our nose where it shouldn't be, somewhat. But why not? It doesn't hurt." Meanwhile, Lyons' experience in the trenches of retail is exactly what Anomaly co-founder Carl Johnson says the agency needs: a breath of practicality in the agency's new model design initiatives, something Johnson calls "real world perspective."
"What I can add is an ability to execute outside-the-box thinking," Lyons says. "At Urban, we could never just sit around and talk about something because we already had the business in front of us. There was immediacy in our concept that was very unforgiving. You couldn't just sit there and say, 'We have to be different.' You have to either put up or shut up. I think there is a balance between creativity and practical application of creativity."