Every week we have a fun “10 questions” session with some of our contributors to the Indie Craft Sampler. Some serious, but mostly fun questions. Our first installment for our October Sampler Contributors is with Richard and Kelly from Our Secret Treehouse (to read our other 10 question interviews click here).
Richard: Growing up the son of a coal miner, I was fascinated with the fossils that my dad would bring home from the mine. The thought of past worlds unlike our own fascinated me. And frequent trips to the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh cemented my love of dinosaurs. While pursuing my PhD, I worked more on scientific illustration, but cartooning these great prehistoric beasts always remained. Scientific illustration is about capturing an object, but cartooning is about capturing a personality. Creating and expressing the personalities of these characters is what I love best—from a befuddled T. rex to a grumpy Triceratops.
Kelly: I learned to crochet and needlepoint from my grandmother as a child, so I feel like I’ve always made things. I’ve also always loved getting cards in the mail, and wanted to make them forever but have zero talent for drawing. When I first saw Richard’s cartoons, I loved them and quickly started to harass him about starting to collaborate on making things together.
2. Is there a story behind the name “Our Secret Treehouse”?
Kelly: The first time that I visited Richard in Ithaca, we visited a six-story tree house. After reaching the top, we were caught there in a downpour. I’ve always loved tree houses, but that one will always be special. Two years after that downpour, we were married in that same tree house.
3. Best advice another crafty/indie shop owner has given you? Do you have any advice for others?Richard: As we were thinking of starting our shop, we attended Hello Craft’s first and second Summit of Awesome—in D.C. and Portland. We learned so much from other crafters those few days, from how to properly manage a booth and marketing to simply finding inspiration. Talking with those at Summit inspired and instilled confidence in us. Not surprisingly, the best advice that we can suggest is to simply engage with the crafting community. It’s a great community and one that’s very generous.
4. How/where do you guys get ideas for new shop items?
Kelly: It sounds funny, but we simply make products that we would like and enjoy. For us, that kind of honesty translates into products that excite us, and ones that we pour a lot of work and love into.
5. Three Countries you would like to visit?
Richard: With so many wonderful museums in Europe, a trip through England, France, and Germany would certainly satisfy many of the “must see” galleries and objects on our list. We also love the windy roads and small towns of the United States, so I’m sure that more road trips here at home are in our future.
6. What is the craziest thing you have ever done?
Kelly: I quit my job after nearly ten years and moved from Chicago to Ithaca to start a business with my best friend(and future husband)!
7. Kelly, what’s it like being married to a paleontologist? (Not many people can say that!)
Kelly: He’s more focused on science education and developing museum exhibits these days, but one of my favorite things about Richard is the fact that it doesn’t matter whether he’s talking to a scientist, a novice adult, or a school-aged child, he can relate things in a way that they can understand without making them feel like he’s talking up or down to them. It’s also fun that he’s named new species—one of which was after Nibbler from Futurama. Most importantly, it gives me mega bonus points with the kids in my family!
8. What was your favorite musical groups in junior high?
Kelly: Depeche Mode and The Cure… starting me down the road toward eighties new wave and Chicago industrial music that sticks with me to this day. (Ed.Note: As a almost lifelong Depeche Mode fan this thrills me to bits! -Tenika)
9. Favorite animal/least favorite animal?
Kelly: Our favorite is our little rescue kitty Pria, who curls up under Richard’s desk lamp when he’s drawing. Least favorite? Richard has an overly irrational fear of sharks, and the beady eyes of opossums haunt my nightmares…
10. Why should people visit your shop?
Richard & Kelly contributed special “sampler packs” of magnet/buttons that will be in 75 October samplers. You can pre-order the October Sampler here.
Check out Our Secret Treehouse for prints, cards, magnets, buttons, notebook, stickers, etc.