Friday, November 9, 2012

Favorite Friend Friday: Berkley Illustration

Ryan and Lucy Berkley are some of the coolest people we know. Hailing from Portland, they are a husband-and-wife team in their art & design company, Berkley Illustration. Last year, we were lucky enough to host their new show, Folk Tales & Tails, which was so much fun to collaborate on. They recently had a little bébé, Ramona; and with parents like Ryan and Lucy, she will most likely be a creative powerhouse when she grows up, too. We are delighted to know them, and to introduce them to you.

ryan and lucy berkley illustration

Tell us a little bit about Berkley Illustration and how you got started.
Ryan: I drew dressed-up animals for the first time about 5 or 6 years ago for the very first Crafty Wonderland show here in Portland. I did an "ancestor series " theme with a small handful of animals and the originals sold quickly. I did another slew of them for the next show and so on.
In November of 2007, Lucy and I were able to afford a quality printer and started an Etsy shop. Orders slowly started coming in, and we were featured on Design*Sponge that December, and it kind of took off from there.

What is it like to be a husband and wife team?
Ryan: It's great in so many ways. We constantly bounce ideas off each other.
Lucy: Working with your significant other certainly isn't for everyone. We're lucky that we generally like to be together a ton because there aren't a lot of breaks! Sometimes it's hard to draw that line between home and work because they are so intermingled. We constantly remind ourselves how lucky we are to be in this position working together and for ourselves, despite the non-stop nature of it all.

What are your roles in the business?
Lucy: Ryan does all of the art, and I do the design, write of all of the animal biographies, and all of the business stuff and customer service. We work on conceptualizing projects together. My forte is brainstorming and starting up with the ideas and Ryan is great at running with them and adding/twisting/maximizing/sharpening them.

Do you have to separate work from daily life or does it all end up as one?
Ryan: Before we had our studio space, our house was constantly piled up with prints and supplies. We would work in the art room all day and then our work would spill into the living room most nights. With the studio, we are able to physically separate work from home life, which is especially important now that we have Ramona.

You have a new little one, Ramona! How has that changed your artistic process or business ventures?
Ryan: I haven't noticed much of a difference in my artistic process, but we have 100% noticed a difference in work efficiency with Ramona in the studio with us! She also has traveled to 5 major cities in her 8 moths for our traveling shows. She's a pretty good traveler and having her selling prints at a table with us all day is a lot of fun!

ryan berkley illustration otter and cheetah portraits
All images courtesy Berkley Illustration

People just go crazy for your animal portraits. Which one is your fan favorite? Have you ever thought of putting a book together?
The fan favorite these days is the sea otter. Used to be the cheetah, but I think he's been bumped to second place. Must be the otter's bowler hat? We have thought of putting all existing animals into book form, along with their stories and self publishing it. Maybe someday.

Which portraits are your favorites, do any of them have stories to how they came about (other than their obvious personal histories)?

Ryan: My personal favorite would have to be the great white shark. In terms of which he is most proud of artistically, it's a tie between the grizzly bear and the moose. There are a few of the animals are based off of people we know. The Meerkat is my grandfather. The Badger is a friend who passed away three years ago.
Lucy: My favorites right now are the Horned Owl, Chipmunk, Goose, and Red-Winged Blackbird. The last two are highly unpopular which could contribute to my favoritism. The Pigeon and Stellar's Jay are my two new favorites which will be released as prints later this month.

All images courtesy Berkley Illustration

Any plans for future projects?
There are plans to do children's books! We have ideas, we now need to find the time to create!

Now for Assemble's favorite questions:

What do you like to do in your off-time?

Ryan: Walks and hikes with the family and dog! Ryan is also an avid comic collector (focusing on Marvel silver and bronze age, specifically) and has an impressive action figure collection as well. He is looking to get back into drumming.
Lucy: I'd like to say "adventuring" but I think that might sound a little too fancy. We both love to travel. We're both vegan so we like finding new vegan places and making yummy food. We like our friends a whole bunch so we like seeing them. Unfortunately none of those things happen enough!

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Ryan: Great question! I think about this all the time. Although I am thoroughly happy in Portland, I have considered Brooklyn and even Los Angeles. If I wanted to dream big, I could see myself living overseas. London?
Lucy: I'd like to split my year between Portland, NYC, LA, Hawaii, and the Southwest. And travel the globe in all my other off time. As for why? I just like those places and could use them in good rotation for a few months at a time.

If you could eat only one dish for the rest of your lives, what would it be?
Ryan: Artichokes. And more artichokes.
Lucy: Vegan mac and cheese with a side of sauteed kale. And cookies too, naturally.

What's your dream job, besides what you are doing now?

Ryan: I'd love to be a marine biologist, specializing in sharks. They have always been a huge fascination with me. Or a drummer for a really unique surf instrumental band.
Lucy: Probably a photo journalist. Traveling the world photographing cultures with Ramona strapped to my chest.

View Berkley Illustration's prints for sale in our shop! To see more of their work, go to their website. See more Favorite Friends on the right sidebar, then click the button that says "Favorite Friends!"

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