Keegan Pierce leaves his ‘Possum Prints’ on Rice
If you’ve seen ktru or Lovett College Woodstock shirts around campus, chances are they’re made by Possum Prints, a small-scale screen-printing company founded by Keegan Pierce, a Lovett senior who “just really likes possums.” Pierce founded the business in the summer of 2022, creating shirts in his living room, and is currently working on college night shirts for Lovett and Sid Richardson College. He will also be live-printing and selling shirts at Archi Market Monday, Nov. 13.
Pierce’s interest in screen-printing developed during his freshman year, born out of a dislike for that year’s Lovett college night shirt design.
“I ordered a cheap kit on Amazon, and me and my suitemates worked together to make alternate college night shirts. [Then], I got more into [screen-printing] through ktru, printing the concert shirts,” Pierce said. “It was really cool to see the shirts that I made around campus and to be able to have a hands-on creative outlet while I did my studies.”
In the summer of 2022, Pierce said he set up a website and filed all the paperwork to launch Possum Prints as an official business. Since then, the reaction from the Rice community has been enthusiastic and Pierce said Possum Prints has allowed him to meet new people and further his involvement in creative events. He has done live screen-printing at ktru concerts and Moody Center for the Arts events and has made shirts for local bands and artists.
“I remember one day last year, I walked around campus and I saw 10 different designs that I printed, which was just really cool. I have a lot of supportive friends and my [residential associates] are all very supportive,” Pierce said. “[People] enjoy knowing that the shirts were hand printed by someone they know.”
Pierce also appreciates the different skills and flexibility that go into running his own business. As a physics and philosophy double major, he said Possum Prints is his first venture into entrepreneurship.
“I handle everything from marketing, taxes, working with organizations and the printing [to] the screen setup and investing in things. There’s a lot of different things to do, which I really like,” Pierce said. “And I get to do it all in my own way, in my own time.”
According to Pierce, one of the hardest things he has had to learn as a business owner is striking a balance between the art and the business.
“A motto that I’ve often repeated is that I’m not a very good businessman. Initially, I was not charging enough and I didn’t know what to ask for in terms of deadlines or bad deals where I didn’t get paid enough,” Pierce said. “I’m getting better at communicating and balancing the different sides. Naturally, what I want to do is design and print, but then there’s the side where I have to promote myself, which I’ve had to grow into over time.”
Pierce often takes on small-scale projects and works with people to design shirts, which he said many printing businesses don’t necessarily do.
“I care about it being a very do-it-yourself, hands-on and kind of scrappy project where I will have empty cans holding up my screens, or find whatever is lying around to solve a problem. That punk, [do-it-yourself] spirit means a lot to me,” Pierce said. “[Possum Prints] is about letting anybody leave their prints, if you will, on the world.”
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