Electricbranch Creative is a branding company and creative firm that is throwing a high-voltage spotlight on our city’s much-vaunted Tacomacentricity. “Our community is rich in a multitude of cultures and lifestyles which are lived out on a daily basis in the numerous neighborhoods within Tacoma. Each of those neighborhoods has their own merchants, style and cultural aspects,” says Electricbranch front man, JD Elquist. The creative house (formerly known as Camp 6) is making a name while working with clients such as the Broadway Center, Republic of 253, Queering the Museum, and A Spoonful of Sugar. It recently co-produced the big Spaceworks fundraiser, Cakewalk, in its warehouse loft space downtown. Its main client: Tacoma itself, which Elquist and co-founder, Travis Pranger, clearly relish dissecting into its historical and cultural parts.
Electricbranch’s purpose “is to capture the essence of why our clients do what they do and translate that into beautiful visual elements” through channels of branding, print advertising and live events, says Elquist. Their event programming is splashy, well-conceived and often features a historical hook: “My stance is how do we take our city’s beautiful history and make it relevant to our community.” A recent project was the cheekily titled Gentlemen’s Tacoma, “a style experience and fashion show showcasing men’s clothing and lifestyle in Tacoma over the decades.” Presented at the Broadway Center’s Fall Free for All in September, the event was conceived after Elquist, a fashion designer, was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Tacoma Historical Society. The fashion show spanned the 1920s to 1970s and highlighted classic Tacoma purveyors of men’s suitings including Klopfenstein’s, Lundquist Lilly’s, Brotman Brothers, and Peoples Store. Authentic sporting apparel from the early 1900s to the present also appeared on the runway.
While interweaving the menswear history and sporting history of our city, the fashion show also demonstrated to Tacoma “that ‘getting dressed’ isn’t a foreign concept…but rather something of our past we overlooked,” says Elquist, a striking man of Swedish and Alaska Native descent. Other breakthrough projects included promotion for the first Cathedrals: Tacoma concert featuring soul group Pickwick, and country rockers The Maldives. For next year, the firm is planning a party for Galloping Gertie, a bicycling event “that is rooted in Narrows Bridge history. The idea is we want to mix the cultures of Tacoma and Gig Harbor” in a bike ride that will span from the harbor waterfront to Wright Park “and end in a lawn party.”
Electricbranch Creative is bringing a fresh slant to the local creative industry. “The whole reason [we] got involved in events to begin with is because it’s where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. In an event atmosphere, it’s face to face and hand to hand. Events create the catalyst for social interaction.” With support from a Spaceworks creative entrepreneurs’ residency, this young creative firm is developing Tacomacentric projects with a welcome hint of sophistication.
“I can’t say I would want to be anywhere else; I mean, we all have dreams of what it could be like to be elsewhere,” says Elquist. “However, I have lived in New York and San Francisco and have been to a number of major European cities as well. What I can tell you from experience is, nothing gets done like it gets done here. My whole intention is to build brands here” while putting the focus on Tacoma made.