News » Strokes & Plugs

Empowering others



At first glance, it appears 20-year-old Reilly Newman is addicted to his iPad and iPhone. From 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., he’s periodically checking his e-mail or updating Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Unlike his fellow technology-crazed peers, however, Reilly uses social media to expand his self-owned design and consultant businesses.

Newman, a 2011 Paso Robles High School graduate, took a rain check on college and plunged straight into the world of graphic and web design and brand consulting. His passion to enable people to do what they love is the foundation for his business branches.

“That’s been interesting because it’s gone from basic business cards in high school to now people just want to talk to me about creative consulting,” Newman said. “Or if they have a problem, I just talk to them about it and help them figure it out.”

Newman focused on graphic design by participating in his high school’s newsmagazine and Skills USA team. He had side jobs during high school and established his first graphic design business, Zangaroo Designs. Although designing is what he’s known for, Newman loves brand marketing and the social psychology that goes with it. His main branch, Reilly Newman & Company, focuses on premium consultant work from either Newman, his brother Bryce Newman, Jason Tolliver, or Ryan Morrison. They serve clients in creative direction, graphic design, web programming, illustration, and identity.

“When I’m helping companies or small businesses or individuals, I get like a rush from helping them develop their identity and getting them going and positioning them,” said Newman, who’s had more than 40 clients since his sophomore year.

DesignMill, Newman’s soon-to-be-released branch, connects lower market graphic and web designers with companies that may have a smaller budget. Another project in progress involves helping colleges book musicians, which comes from his experience as manager for Ives the Band. Newman noticed that people tend to separate graphic and web design, so he decided to create a branch with Bryce called Pelican Web Design. Although Bryce, 23, has graphic design skills, he tends to focus on web design and web development. Bryce and Newman collaborated together before launching Pelican Web Design in March. Bryce said he enjoys having a wide range of clients, from photographers to a law firm to bloggers.

“The Central Coast is a very unique part of California where it has lots of room to grow there, lots of opportunity for businesses,” Bryce said. “It’s been cool to watch it grow—especially Paso Robles.”

Pricing varies depending on the branch and project, but Newman donates a portion of the profit to Samaritan’s Purse, a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization that provides physical and spiritual aid around the world. Reilly said donating keeps people from putting too much value on money.

“A lot of people say, ‘Oh you do graphic design or web design, you must get paid so much!’” Newman said. “That’s kind of the wrong thinking.”

In addition to researching brand strategy, Newman learned about the concept from Michael Dunn, creative director of D U N N, a brand consultancy agency in San Francisco and San Luis Obispo. Dunn heard about Newman in 2011 when he was looking for an intern for a small business project.

Dunn helped Newman learn about the importance of integrity in a business, saying brands aren’t logos or taglines, but the way a person operates. Newman said he also learned the importance of relationships because Dunn told him he’ll always be working with people regardless of title, income, or location. Newman said he makes sure his work aligns with his client’s vision for the company versus simply telling the client what to do.

Dunn said he was impressed with Newman’s desire to learn and passion for design. Dunn and Newman still stay in contact, though the internship concluded.

“As a 20-year-old kid, he knows as much or more about brand strategy as some of the people who own advertising agencies in this town,” Dunn said.

Newman said he’s looking into more entrepreneurship opportunities in the future. Though he’s already connecting, designing, and consulting, he doesn’t consider what he does “work” because he enjoys it.

“I get to meet these cool people and learn about their jobs and figure out ways for them to either make money in a better way, make them look more legitimate which will make them more money, and just helping them grow and doing what they like,” Newman said. “When it comes down to it, it’s about enabling people. I get a kick out of it.”

Contact Newman and Pelican Web Design through

Fast fact

A Pecho Ranch Fashion Show will be held on July 25 from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Spooner Ranch House in Montaña de Oro. The event includes a house tour, fashion show, and a boxed lunch. Tickets cost $25 each; the money will go toward buying living history costumes. To RSVP or send donations, reach Mary Golden at or 748-8278.

Intern Alicia Canales compiled this week’s Strokes. Send your business and nonprofit news to

Add a comment