This is a long story about how two people met, then married a strange creative poster business, and eventually each other.
We're Briana and Jason. Brainstorm is the illustration studio and poster shop we unintentionally started in late 2007. We met in the printmaking studio at a small liberal arts college in N.J. and had very different ideas about "art". That discord evolved into a strange creative bond so we started working on a few projects together. We found out that collaborating brought out the best (and worst) parts of our personalities. We welcomed that challenge. Eventually we graduated with bleak job prospects in a pretty turbulent economy, but we still had idealistic ambitions to use the graphic design/art education degrees we worked for. While we looked for "real jobs", we also focused on smaller creative sessions, bouncing ideas around. Those early freeform days helped us form mutual respect, both artistically and personally. So we kept working on freelance design projects and screenprinting posters, and began taking our print work to craft shows up and down the east coast. Without expectation and definitely open to all possibilities, we were just happy to be making things and to be a part of a growing handmade, crafty resurgence.
To keep sane while job hunting, Jason built us a simple HTML website to house our prints and projects. It was 2008/2009 and blogs were starting to take off. A few of our favorites spotted us online and posted about our work. Big internet stuff! People seemed to like the prints we were making so we made some more. Things started ramping up but we continued to work jobs we didn't like for bosses we liked even less. We trudged through difficult lessons about who we thought we wanted to be as designers, artists, and just people in general. We spent countless hours learning the ins and outs of the USPS and how best to photograph artwork in Mom's garage. Then we spent seven years moving around, screenprinting in grimy basements and crumbling lofts, and changing our logo a thousand times. Amidst all that, people were still enjoying (and buying!) our print work and we were getting attached to the strange poster-selling lifestyle. Calling the shots was our favorite, even though we never really felt like we had any idea what we were doing. Neither of us had ever taken a business class (because that's what you need to be successful, right?) Every little success felt like a huge victory and we got to celebrate together. A lot of people had pretty rotten opinions about what it meant to make a living as an artist (gasp!), but we started to realize it was possible if we just stopped listening. Remembering that working together was THE MOST rewarding thing and that we valued having time, above all else. After some major failures, small victories, overwhelming student loans, apartments, new studio spaces, good designs, very bad designs, crazy opportunities, outrageous excitement followed by outrageous fear, inevitable fights, and arthritis (from hand printing), we had built something of value. By 2011 it became a full-time "job" for both of us.
We now live and work in New Hampshire and we still pour our hearts into Brainstorm every day. Our studio is in an old mill building in downtown Dover and we'd love for you to come visit. We're three people in a studio (meet Sara on the about us page) and we like it that way. We just want to make good work and stay small. No matter how fancy the Instagram pics get, we are still figuring it out as we go. There are never guarantees in any creative industry. So we have to stay nimble and work our butts off regardless of expectation or previous outcome. We're grateful that we've been able to build this strange creative hustle into something that our friends and family still don't fully understand. "You really make posters for a living?".
The bulk of our days are filled with illustration and poster design, business-y administrative stuff, and keeping our wonderful retailers well-stocked with our goods. Sometimes we do fun design projects for ourselves or with other people. Our print work is inspired by science, nature, and the outdoors. We also tackle geography and food when we feel like it. We prefer craft shows over gallery shows and love the mountains more than the city. We love the role of the poster in society and will forever prefer it as our means of creative communication.
If you'd like to buy a thing (or two), go here!
You can also find us mostly on Instagram, less on Twitter, and even less on Facebook.
We also got hitched in 2015. :) That's our story in a very large nutshell.