Meet the Author: Berkley Illustration
Tell us a little about Berkley Illustration
We are Ryan and Lucy Berkley, a husband and wife team from Portland. Ryan is the artist and Lucy runs the business and we work together on creative direction. We run a successful Etsy shop selling our own prints and accessories and we also do editorial and client work mixed with gallery shows and now, a book!
I’m a big fan and was excited to see that your book “Social Animals” contains the stories for all the characters. The big bummer of framing a Berkley piece is hiding the story! Was there always an intention of including a story with each portrait or did that evolve over time?
Thanks! When Lucy first sat down to create online listings, way back in 2007, she instinctually and spontaneously wrote a little bio about the animal with it. After a couple months we realized that the stories were an important part of our characters and we included them with the packaging. We’ve actually been trying for a long time to find a suitable way to better include the physical description with the prints so the book was a good start in getting them out there.
You have had one of the most successful shops on Etsy and you also do craft shows, both with their own challenges and advantages. What are some observations/lessons you’ve picked up from the ever-growing online marketplace and the burgeoning indie craft show community?
It’s so wonderful that the general public looks for independent makers as a solid alternative to mass production. We have many friends who make their living off creating and we don’t think that wasn’t as viable an option 15 years ago. We are certainly grateful. With that popularity, however, it’s important that sellers be unique and aware. It’s great to see what is popular and find inspiration in it but think about what you make critically and find your own voice and product. We want Etsy and craft fairs to stay vibrant and special.
You’ve distributed through Urban Outfitters, your book is being published through PNW fixture Sasquatch books, we’ve mentioned Etsy as well as the craft scene. From a creative and business perspective, how have these different experiences influenced the work and what has it helped you learn/improve the way you sell/market your art?
It’s all a learning experience and each job/show/licensing agreement is different and eye-opening. The biggest thing we’ve probably learned is the importance of having a lot of things going on at once. You never know where the next job or idea will come from so keeping options open and exploring various outlets is extremely important for success.
“I want them all!” is a pretty common phrase heard at the Berkley booth. How did you decide what made it into the book?
We were helped in the decision by the chapters we created. We divided the book into six social categories and we took a stack of 80+ animal prints and spent a few days shuffling them around until they fit. We tried to include a good range of animal types and genders as well as considering their personalities. It’s a fun day when you’re debating the work ethic of a chipmunk.
Any new projects you are working on or fun things for us to look forward to?
We are looking into apparel and jewelry production for 2016. We’ve also always had ambitions to do children’s books. In early January we’ll have a team retreat (that’s the two of us, probably when our kids are sleeping) and map out our goals for the year. It’s always exciting to figure out what’s next!