What are some tips for working with a business partner or significant other?
Jon: I think we fall on our strengths.
When Lindsey was able to come in, being a financial wealth consultant for many years, she helped us with the business side as it grew. It allowed Michael [Ortiz, a former business partner] to do his own thing creatively and I was able to go back to being creative myself instead of just running the business and the day-to-day operations.
Since we started painting together, I was taking creative lead as projects were coming to me. Then the first project we did this year Lindsey took full creative rein and ran point on the creative direction for that project because that’s what suited that client and that project. I assisted her on that. So it goes back and forth.
Lindz: But for the business side an easy way to break it down is, I do the bookkeeping, most of the administration, the marketing, I rebuilt the website and gave it an uplift so now it has e-commerce and there’s an actual way to contact us for fine art prints. I love admin, I still love paperwork, I still love doing math.
I’ve known my current business partner Steve Winter for 30 years. I think ultimately what has helped us succeed over the years is knowing we’re never gonna agree on everything. We might not even agree on anything. But ultimately if we just know not to take things personally it’s not that big of a deal.
You can have a big fight and it’s not the end of the relationship. You don’t carry it around with you as some big weight and burden. It’s not a competition between you and your partner of who’s doing what.
I think it’s like a marriage. You can’t be like, Well, I did the dishes last night, you haven’t done the dishes in two fucking weeks, what do you bring to this relationship? You have to drop all that. It’s just not serving, it’s not beneficial.
You have to just know in your heart that your partner’s trying their hardest and that they have their best intentions in mind to grow the company and to work on things and to have a lot of passion.
Steve Winter and Scott Gaffney are partners in the company and I know that ultimately those guys are fucking super hard workers. They want to do cool shit and they want to do really pro stuff. So their core fundamentals and visions are true to what this company is all about. And just knowing that and having faith in that helps the whole thing work.
Nate: Surprisingly, we actually work really well together.
Bree: We’re not in each other’s business. Each role is pretty separate except for the design part. And then that’s more just bouncing ideas off of each other.
N: We went through a period where neither of us could take criticism properly. So we had to learn quickly. We’re married so we either have to accept the criticism and talk about it or—
B: Or not do this business. Being in photography at school, that’s all you do is criticize each other’s work. You have to do that, it’s part of your grade. So you learn how to talk the talk. But it’s good. Sometimes I’m just like, Don’t take this personally, it’s just not working, sorry.
N: And usually I’m like, Yeah, you’re right. Typically I’ll ask because I know it’s not working. We’re really good at taking the criticism now and understand that’s part of it.
B: We’ve gotten better at it the last two years. I do this full time, so after we send the transparency off, I do the build-ups — try and get everything I can ready so all he has to do is the illustrations, which will be at the shop or at home. Lately it’s been at home while I’m cooking dinner. But it’s hard to know when to stop. We stop on weekends. We don’t work on weekends anymore.
N: Unless it’s a necessity. We have a few clients who come to us consistently and generally they’re last minute. They’ve been great clients to work with, though, so there are times we’ll work through the weekend to get out a big project because we want to do it.
Jaime I would say is the lead designer and does the designing usually. Then we paint everything together. And I work with the client side of things as far as emailing and communication.
When we first started working collaboratively Jaime would do one thing and then I would do one thing and then maybe we’d meet somewhere in the middle. The pieces were good but I don’t know if they were at their best.
But once we let go of our egos and just worked on everything together — where it’s not so much about him, it’s not so much about me, it’s mostly about the piece — then it was easier.
I think that’s almost the same when working with a client. In my mind, the work needs to be as much for them as it is for you. Because the more emotionally attached they are to it, about the creation of it, the happier they’re going to be with the product.