We couldn't be more excited about the 2015 line-up for our Creative Community feature in which we interview respected creatives and learn more about their process, studio and how they manage their time. This year we've decided to focus on individuals who excel at working with other people. Whether it be full time or every now and then, these folks are producing work that gives credit to the mantra "two are better than one."
Last year we kicked off the feature by introducing ourselves and will do so again this year, sharing a behind the scenes peek at collaboration within Hart + Honey.
1. Tell us about yourself and your creative endeavor.
(lily) I've always had a thing for people with good stories. Most of those stories were accompanied by pictures and for the ones that weren't, I created the pictures in my head. Growing up I wanted to be a fine art black and white landscape photographer (hair flip), until I realized that I could photograph people without posing them with their hand on their chins. And then fell even more in love with the medium when I realized that I could help create those photos that people cherished and used to accompany their stories.
(ashley) After graduating I had many interests and skills but felt that being a jack-of-all-trades was a bad thing. I am a fashion design major, turned graphic designer all while having a catering business on the side which has since taken a back seat. Recently I've learned how beautiful it can be when all those skills work together to create better art, better events and is a great cause to meet other fabulous creative minds.
2. When did you first begin collaborating and what made you want to do it again?
We each had a need and an interest -- I wanted to shoot more editorial work and Ashley wanted more detailed photos for her blog. So we set a date in May 2012 cooking and shooting and chatting and ending the evening with a lovely big family supper. We loved the results (they're still some of my favorite images we've created together).
3. What's been your favorite project?
(lily) Anything that we've done because we wanted to. Working together means extra ideas, resources, problem solving and better results. STUDY has been a crazy fun project and allowed us to experience places and meet people we otherwise might not have but my favorite days together are the ones in which we photograph food all day long and then gather with our friends to eat it -- like this backyard grilled-grilled cheese that ran in Hearth Magazine.
(ashley) This is one of the hardest questions to answer. I'll second Lily's answer, STUDY has been an amazing opportunity to push each others skills, meet wonderful people and learn a little along the way. To be honest, anytime we get to work together it feels so smooth, we anticipate the next steps and challenge each other along the way.
4. Can you describe the steps of an average collaboration?
(lily) First and most importantly, we make sure that the project is something we're both excited about. Then we have a dedicated planning/brainstorming session which usually results in the beginnings of a Pinterst board. This visual cork-board is invaluable especially when we're working on a project from different states. We'll assign tasks and set deadlines for each, meeting weekly (or more if needed), via Skype to check-in and update. Big decisions are always made together and good communication is key. Dancing and champagne always follow successful collaborations (during which time the next idea is usually conceived).
(ashley) I would also add that in collaboration we've learned to let go of things. If Lily is the expert on photography I trust that her opinion is better formed than mine and let go of certain decision making....and vise versa.
5. Do you have any advice for the moments when you can't seem to see eye-to-eye?
(ashley) As in any relationship the closer you get the more you see each other as real people, yes, with flaws. We both feel safe coming to one another with concerns. When we began to share a studio we set up some guidelines as well as a weekly meeting where we marked out time to discuss issues. Just giving ourselves the time and place for it helped eliminate the stubbornness that comes with being a girl as well as an artist. We both want the best for our business and for our friendship so I think we are good at trusting each others intentions.
(lily) Honesty and open communication are necessary in any successful relationship -- thankfully we both feel comfortable expressing our opinion but also trust the others respective expertise as final word. Be respectful and gracious and make sure everyone's thoughts are heard.
6. How do your skills compliment each other?
(lily) Artistically, Ashley loves styling and food and design and I love documenting those things. She's a master planner which keeps us on track and has a lovely way of bringing out confidence in others. Her intentionality in all aspects of her life - business, marriage, friendship and faith - have also challenged and in many ways strengthened my own.
(ashley) Lily has helped me see the world differently. She is able to preserve memories, not just visually but also always captures the emotion, without her we wouldn't have anything to show you. She tells stories without words. Lily also happens to be great with words. She is our best communicator, editor and PR rep, if she weren't around the blog would probably be all pictures b/c I have not idea what to say. She has a killer work ethic, I tend to freeze up at the beginning of projects and she jumps right in, paving a way for me to follow lead!
7. We're always interested in the balance of personal life and creative work. How do you manage time for all the important things and people in your life?
(ashley) The freelance business is tricky. Emails come at all hours and clients expectations are sometimes different when they find out you work from home. I think it's important to put boundaries around your time, even if you are the only one who knows it.
(lily) I think by remembering that "balance" looks different for everyone. So implementing a 9-5 rule at home isn't always practical and sometimes means less time with your family. Planning ahead, prioritizing tasks and always putting family first eases the juggle.
8. Was there ever a point in your career when you wanted to throw in the towel? Can you describe how you overcame that time and kept going?
(lily) When my husband, Ben, got a job in Los Angeles we had some hard decisions to make for Hart +Honey. We had just released our first issue of STUDY and had four months left of our studio lease. We could call it a good year and a fun adventure and move on, or be intentional about meeting regularly (thanks, internet), and give long distance a try. It meant changing a few things and less parties (for now), but we set up a blog schedule, skype dates and were able to see each other every couple of months for IRL meetings (and parties). Having tasted all the good from our first year of collaborations, we weren't ready to call it quits. So we persevered and planned ahead.
9. What's your favorite thing about working with Ashley/Lily?
(lily) I always know what to expect with Ashley. There's no hidden agenda or confusing messages - she's honest and uplifting and opinionated without being overbearing or dominating. And gracious, too. She also has some mean dance moves which come out when she's real excited. #pitbull
(ashley) I can't even handle this question, really, I can't have just one thing. She is one of the best people I know. She takes the bull by the horns in any challenging situation but with such grace. I know that she genuinely loves life, the people we come in contact with and me, even on my worst day. Being in her presence makes you feel confident about your work and who you are.
10. What's your favorite thing in or about your studio and why?
(ashley) To be honest we both loved our first actual space together so this is tough. However, living in 2 states we now have a studio wherever we find ourselves together. I guess a studio isn't a space anymore, it's just us, working together. Whether on the road or in her kitchen there is something really special about making each location work for us.
11. Two are better than one because...
(lily) You can finish a bottle of champagne without feeling like a lush.
(ashley) Even the craziest of minds have a safe place to flush ideas out. Also endless dance parties.
12. What is your favorite thing to do together outside of work?
(lily) Eat! We can share plates like no one bid-naz.
(ashley) I clearly can't compete with that answer, also 100% agree.
13. What is your best way to relieve stress? Together or individually?
(lily) Can I say eat again?
(ashley) Of course you can! Together and as an individual my answer is to dance, gotta shake the stress away.
14. How do you kick an afternoon slump?
(lily) Switch things up. Try a different task or run an errand or break for brainstorming.
(ashley) Move settings. When working at home I follow the sun -- mornings are great at the kitchen table and then as the sun sets I work at my desk!
15. How do you take your coffee or tea?
(lily) Black as night