NAME: Bree + Nate Millard, BAN Supply Co.
OCCUPATIONS: Graphic Designer, Illustrator, Painter, Woodworker
LOCATION: Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
ART: bansupplyco.com | instagram.com/bansupplyco
Bree + Nate Millard are the wife-and-husband team behind BAN Supply Co. They’ve successfully married their complementary skills in woodworking, art and business to create a thriving company making vintage- and Americana-inspired signs on hand-cut, illustrated and painted wood.
In this interview we chat about how they price their work, divide tasks and approach the creative process behind their handmade pieces. The idea for BAN Supply Co. grew out of a flash of inspiration in the early ’10s while playing around in the studio they built in their own backyard, and they’ve since settled into a productive working groove (that of course gives them time to snowboard).
Bree, you have a B.A. in Fine Art Photography from the University of Utah. Can you tell us a little about how you made the decision to get that degree?
Bree: Sure. I was obsessed with snowboarding, but it was kind of an unspoken rule that I go to college. My parents said they’d pay as long as I went right after high school and went for four consecutive years.
So I went to the U because at the time it was pretty affordable. I was actually really into botany and horticulture, but it seemed like a lot of hard classes for just wanting to snowboard. [Laughs.] Then I went to the communications department and that also seemed a little serious. So I ended up in art. My uncles were both professional painters – that was their income – so it wasn’t a huge shock and I had a lot of support going into art.
Had you done art before that?
B: The art of snowboarding. [Laughs.] I mean, I always liked photography, in high school and what not. And I always liked hands-on things.
Did you plan to do something specific with your degree or did you just want to get it and would figure it out later?
B: I think a plan would’ve been better, but I don’t regret it at all and use it every day. I had all my classes from 6 to maybe 11, went snowboarding every day, bussed tables, did my homework. After graduation, I worked at a ski rental shop and snowboarded every day from 11 to 4.
You also have an extensive background in woodworking and carpentry. Where did you get those skills?
B: My dad was a drywall contractor, so I was around building a lot and my first job was cleaning up job sites. Then I thought, Contractors make a lot of money and get to build houses, so maybe I’ll get my contractor’s license, which I haven’t done. But my dad lined me up with a builder who lived in our neighborhood and hired me. I worked with them for a year, learned a lot. Then I started working with my dad and have done so ever since, now part-time, just building and remodeling, electrical, framing. So basically I learned how to use tools. It’s been 10, 15 years doing that.
When my mom passed away, my friend gave us The Artist’s Way book by Julia Cameron. It took us a year to commit, but then Nate and I’d sit together and do the daily entries every morning for probably 9 months. We’d do daily affirmations like, I can do things. And as we sat there looking at the blank spot in the backyard, we decided to build a studio.
This was roughly when?
B: About 2010.
Okay, and Nate, you have a B.S. from the University of Utah in Finance. What happened after graduation for you? What did you do for work?
Nate: I was also addicted to snowboarding. [Laughs.]
And that’s how you met.
N: Yes. I went through a lot of majors in college. I basically looked at the credits I had and saw I could go into finance and be done pretty quickly. I was bartending at the time which allowed me to snowboard during the day. Like Bree, I designed my classes to not be during the day.
During that time period I got interested in photography. Bree kind of inspired me. I got into the action sports side – skateboarding and snowboarding – where she did more fine art. I was bartending at night and trying to make a freelance photography career work with a focus on snowboarding. It was easier to get better shots skateboarding, but harder to sell in Salt Lake City. So I did that for 3 or 4 years – bartending and shooting photos. I didn’t really use finance until the last couple years.
Why the change from bartending and photography?
N: Well, photography was kicking my butt, to be honest. The whole industry was very difficult. Everyone wanted everything for free and you’re always “doing something for the exposure.” So I wasn’t really making any money and was spending a lot more money on film than actually making an income.
I’d get a paycheck here and there, a couple boards, some outerwear, which was fun, but Bree and I were starting to talk about getting married. So I was starting to think about having a day job and taking care of my wife. And in school I’d also taken drafting and interior design classes and had a little bit of experience in that. So I got a job in a firm drafting and have worked there for 7 or 8 years.
B: His ability to draft changed BAN Supply. He used to hand draw everything, but now we project designs and trace them before I router [hollow out wood using a hand tool] them.
Once your studio was built, then, when did the idea for BAN Supply come in?
N: We were kind of fiddling around in there. I was doing chalk drawings on black paper, which was fun. I hadn’t really drawn since I was a kid.
B: And I was fiddling with old negatives from college thinking, There’s gotta be something I can do with these. I wanted to try to do something different with the old photos. So using an old projector, like the kind from high school, I ended up projecting an image of an old car I took onto the wall and traced that. Then I ran out to the garage and routered it out with a simple spinning bit. I use the simplest bit there is, a straight bit.
N: Yeah, I was in the studio and she said, Check this out! But before I could even look at it, she said, I’ll be right back! And runs in the garage and all of a sudden I hear power tools going and I’m like, What in the heck is going on in there? But didn’t really think much of it because that’s just how she is. And she brings out a piece of wood that’s all routered out that was basically just traced out of the wood. It’s not really the intended use of the router. It’s really intended to round out the intricate corners of tables and such.
This idea to router on a piece of wood just popped into your head? You’d never done this before?
B: Yeah, we were always remodeling so we always had stray pieces of wood and I was really into tools and wanted to know what they can do. We have this little bit kit and for whatever reason my mind— I don’t know, it just happened.
Flash of inspiration.
So then what happened?
N: We’d go on these trips and would always name the trip something and I’d create a stencil and make t-shirts for the trip name.
B: So design started to come in, ignite in the brain.
N: Yeah, lettering and design, that sort of thing. So Bree had an idea to basically combine the two and create something cool with lettering and this traced imagery.
B: Yeah, because I’d basically gone through every negative I owned and was routering everything, and I was like, More, more, more! Gotta do it all! But eventually I realized I needed to be more organized. I just like to see the finished product. The finished product is the best part. I pride myself on that.
N: Our friend who we bike with a lot works at Bingham Cyclery downtown and they had an Electra bike that came with a built-in wooden piece in the frame, but it was plain on both sides.
B: Like beach cruisers.
N: Yeah, and he said, Hey, can you guys design a stencil and stencil it on both sides? And I said, Well, we could do something one step further. We could draw something out and then router it in. And this was right around the same time Bree did that first piece.
B: That bike project was mind melting. It took forever.
N: It did. It took me 9 hours to draw both sides by hand. I drew everything out on paper full size first and then recreated it on the wood, right next to it. Then Bree routered it out.
B: That was kind of like our first real thing.
Was that a paid gig?
B: I think we made like a hundred bucks.
N: Yeah or I think we might’ve traded for some credit at the bike shop. That was one of the first jobs.
Was that job successful? Did it turn out okay?
B: Yeah! They get compliments on it all the time.
After that, were there any seeds yet for the business? Or what were your thoughts at that time?
N: We kinda continued building random things, but would always router something into it. Like record crates—
B: It was an obsession, pretty much. It was like, What else? What else? We can router everything.
N: I don’t know if this was the next commission piece we did, but randomly this guy Ian was looking for a sign on this old piece of wood he found—
B: A single slab of old-growth redwood. They don’t cut stuff like that anymore.
N: Like 30” wide by 24” tall, one piece, which is super rare.
B: He came into Signed and Numbered, a frame store I was working in at the time. He went there because he thought they made signs, but the girls said they didn’t do signs but there’s a girl out back who routers into everything so she might router it for you. He asked me and I said, Sure! We can do that.
And that project turned out well?
N: Yeah, we didn’t mess up the 100-year old piece of wood. [Laughs.]
B: It was actually really easy to work with, that redwood. It was beautiful.
N: We charged $150 bucks, which at the time we were thinking would be too much. But he was like, Yeah, cool.
So at that point you were just pulling pricing out of the air?
N: Oh, yeah, totally.
B: So insecure. I was just giving everything away thinking, It’s just garbage, you can just have it. If Nate wasn’t here, I would give everything away. I can’t charge you for that! It can’t be worth anything. [Laughs.]
How do you approach pricing now?
B: Nate. I don’t even talk. He’ll tell me what to say in an email, but I can’t even send it. I have a hard time. I don’t like to talk money at all.
N: It is difficult. We started designing our pricing on what it would take hourly to create a particular piece, based on complexity and size. And it was very difficult to keep it consistent or have—
B: Not be cheating people and not be giving some people deals and charging other people a lot. Because you just want to be fair and consistent and professional.
N: So we switched over and now we have it by size and a little bit of complexity. But basically per square footage and wood type.
So the larger the sign, the more money it’s gonna be because obviously it’s bigger. But as the sign gets bigger the price per square footage goes down a bit just so it doesn’t get astronomical. Now we try to keep it to 18×24” or larger, just because it works better with our medium.
B: And make it worth our time. We want to be biking and snowboarding. I mean, we obviously have bills to pay and don’t want to be arrogant.
N: And we have shop space and too little time. You know, it’s your time.
Do you track your time or do you have a pretty good estimate now of how long things take?
N: As we progress, things take less time. She’s gotten faster and faster and better and better.
B: Well, and the projecting has saved us so much time. He used to hand draw and that would take forever. He still hand illustrates, but the fonts we design on the computer now.
Can you talk more about your process, start to finish?
N: Yeah, so we just liked old poster art, nostalgic Americana, and started making up a bunch of random, made-up posters.
Initially, I’d lay out all the spacing, draw it out by hand, lightly sketch in what I thought I’d wanted. I’d darken it and correct as I went along to make it more accurate. But now, we do the lettering in Illustrator, create a PDF that we print on a transparency and then project that onto the wall using an old-school projector.
So the wood is hanging on the wall and you project onto that?
B: Yeah, we have a little jig to hold the wood in. It raises and lowers.
N: I project it onto the wall, make sure it’s where I want it and then trace the lettering. From there, we take it down and I hand illustrate everything.
I guess the start of the process is us coming up with a concept. Then I do a sketch, notebook sized, take a picture of it and send it to the client. Have them approve it or provide feedback like, I don’t like this at all – which hopefully doesn’t happen often. Or they’ll say, What if we added this or took this away? Then I’ll do another sketch. Usually it doesn’t go more than three sketches. Typically it’s one or two.
B: And we take a down payment now before we even start sketching.
Is it a percentage or a flat rate?
B: A hundred bucks.
N: Unless it’s a really large piece that requires a lot of computer time and designing. If we’re designing something like a logo we’ll take a larger deposit. Just to make sure they’re serious because we spend a lot of time doing designs and sometimes they kinda just disappear or stop responding.
B: We learned that lesson. Not quick enough, but thank goodness we learned it. It saved a lot of time.
And just general emailing – back and forth. The deposit makes them invested.
N: And now if they don’t respond, we’re like, Okay, they weren’t really that serious.
B: Yeah, because time is snowboarding. [Laughter.] It comes to that. We’ve been really busy the last couple years to where it’s like, Okay, we gotta get this down or we’re just gonna be working all the time.
N: And we’re known to just say yes to everything.
After the deposit, when do they pay the rest?
N: Just at the time they pick it up.
What are some challenges working together as a couple?
N: Surprisingly, we actually work really well together.
B: 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.
How do you two split tasks?
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.
B: We did the opening names for the Arbor Snowboard movie, and that was a lot of time. A lot of last minute changes – names, shipping problems. But we said, Yes – yes, yes, yes, because we like snowboarding and just wanted to be involved in the industry and movie, so we bent over backwards for that.
Let’s go back to when you did the bike, which was your first commission. At what point did you make the decision to go into this as a business?
B: Okay, so it goes back to Art Adoption, which Josh Scheuerman does. I was still in the photo world and Nate was doing his charcoal drawings. So we showed a bunch of photos and drawings at Art Adoption.
Then we got in at Vertical Diner because a girl I worked with at Signed & Numbered asked if we wanted to show our prints at the diner, so we framed and sold a bunch of those prints. Then when they asked us to come back, we said we’re actually doing a new thing. And that’s also when we did a show of random signs at Q Clothing downtown. Some of them were really cool and some of them were just signs on scrap wood. We sold a couple there, but didn’t make a lot of money. We did get a lot of good feedback.
B: We then did Art Adoption again with Josh and that helped a lot for people getting to know us, recognizing our work, like, Oh, that’s definitely Bree and Nate.
How did that show do at the restaurant? How was the reception of your work?
B: People were responding really well and they asked us to come back another year. That’s when we decided to do a mountain bike theme. We picked all our favorite trails and did about 22 pieces.
N: Our style developed into more of what it is now – Utah-based woodcut poster art. So we took the mountain bike trail idea, which a lot of people loved. We sold three-quarters of those pieces at Vertical Diner.
B: It’s not a very busy place. It’s a very small vegan restaurant.
How long was the show?
B: A month or two. People were buying them who didn’t even know they were mountain bike trails.
Were you both full time at your other jobs still?
B: Yeah. We were doing this in the garage after work. I was just covered in dust and he was in there drawing and painting. We were just geeks. It’s a blur how obsessed we were with all that.
So it pretty much consumed you.
B: Still squeezed in mountain biking and snowboarding.
N: We went through a phase of making little round coasters with one random image on it like anchors or cherries. We probably made like 2,000 coasters. I drew every one by hand.
B: Four for ten bucks. We were trying to meet price points, have the high end, the low end. And then you realize the low end is just— well, in our medium, it was like, What are we doing? We’re cutting out hundreds.
You realized that pretty early?
N: Yeah, we did a couple craft fairs. We sold a lot of coasters, so we felt like we needed to keep doing them. But then we realized we can’t keep doing it.
B: We didn’t want to create stuff that’s just gonna get thrown away. We don’t want to meet that price point.
What happened next?
B: I approached Porcupine Grill to see if we could show our work there, but they initially denied us. It’s a restaurant at the bottom of the Cottonwood Canyons.
N: They rotate artists every two months.
B: And they don’t take any commission and it’s an insane amount of people who go there. It’s busy and by the mountains. We thought we finally found the connection to people who have the money to buy what we wanted to create.
N: Once we finally got into Porcupine, which was a couple years after that, we took our mountain bike trail idea and went towards the ski community. It’s an easy gravitation because that’s what we’re into. The show was gonna be January, February so we were thinking, Oh, people are going to be coming down from the mountains, eating and drinking—
B: It’s gonna hit home. You had a good pow day, you have to have the art. [Laughter.]
N: I mean, in reality we weren’t really thinking about the sales because we weren’t driven by that. We just wanted to create cool things and see it hung. Being like, Oh, cool! We did this.
B: And it was fun to do stuff other people aren’t involved with, the commission work. The commission work’s fun, but it’s really fun to just do what you want to do.
N: And the commission work was kind of just friends based. We had an Instagram account, but at the time it didn’t get much traffic. It was mostly just friends. So we’d get a friend of a friend saying, Hey, can you guys do this?
B: Can you do my girlfriend’s earring holder? Sure. And other friends were like, Can you build some wall panels with my company name on it? I was like, Alright, sure.
All word of mouth at that point?
N: Yeah. And then once we got into Porcupine, that kind of accelerated the custom work. Because that whole show was 75% local ski resorts.
So that Porcupine work was all out of pocket?
N: Yeah, it was all out of our pockets and all our designs. It was well received by both the employees and the owner. We were very concerned about pleasing the owner because he’s been known to reject art after it’s hung. So it was a lot of pressure. I mean, the guy’s awesome, but he owns the restaurant. But for the first couple weeks we didn’t get any calls.
B: We were about to go lower the prices.
N: Then we started getting calls and then half of the pieces were sold. And then we get this guy who called and said, Hey, I just finished my house and want to buy 9 of these.
B: He first said I want to buy all of them, but I told him a lot of them were already sold. And he said he’d buy whatever’s not sold. Then he went through and handpicked 9 of them and we were like, We’ve hit the jackpot! We just sold 9 pieces for $2,000! [Laughter.]
N: So that show we sold out.
B: And another guy called and wanted to buy the whole show, but we told him the pieces are all one-of-a-kind and sold already.
N: He wanted us to recreate the show because he didn’t understand and thought it would be easy to reproduce. In the end, he basically wanted us to do it for free for the “exposure” since he owned a bunch of stores he could put the art in.
B: Kinda like photography where the person says, We’re doing this for you, for the exposure. And we’re like, I think we’re doing okay.
I think we got about 27 commissions in one month from that Porcupine show. And they just kind of kept coming in and have been feeding us ever since.
N: So then we started doing a lot of commission work.
When was this?
B: We just did our fourth show at Porcupine, so four years ago.
And Bree, when did you go full time with the business?
B: I think about 2013. That was the year we got our business license and said we were established.
N: And that year we got our first workshop. That was right before we did the first Porcupine show. We created our first Porcupine show at our first shop.
B: Let’s talk about Uinta Brewing. They were a big thing for us. We met the owner at Art Adoption. It’s been a great connection. We’re still really good friends with them. That was kind of like, Whoa, this big company wants to work with us. Those jobs kind of instigated my going full time with the business.
N: Uinta started by testing the waters with us. We first did a 4’ round woodcut logo which I hand drew. That kinda took us to the next level. That was the start of us realizing, Okay, we might be able to do this as a business.
B: Then they hired us for a bunch of other stuff and we did the wall in their brewery.
It’s a huge wall.
B: Yeah, 28’ x 13’.
How did you price that?
N: That was hard to price. They shot down the first price—
B: So we did it for half of the first price. [Laughs.] It was still fair and they paid for the cedar.
N: Even though the initial bid came in higher than they wanted to spend, they were nice about it and realistic and said, Hey, this is quite a bit more than we had budgeted, can we do this price?
B: You have to either want to do the work or say no.
N: Yeah, exactly. But it was a lot of late nights because we had to do it after all the tradesmen were done for the day and I was done with my day job.
How did you decide a shop was something you needed? How much was the rent for the shop?
B: A guy we knew said, You know I have this shop space that I’m in, there’s a lot of space you could probably rent. I said, How much? And he found out it would be $200 for 200 square feet.
N: That was our first shop space.
B: Which seemed totally adequate since we were working in our garage. And then we grew out of that quickly and had to expand to our second shop. We’d met a guy named Keith who said, Hey, you guys want to go in on a shop together? And we said, Sure, if it works out. So he found a space, but it was way bigger than we needed. I think it was $1500, but I wasn’t comfortable paying that much. So he said, I’ll pay a grand, you guys pay the difference and cover utilities. We ended up paying $700 or $800 – way more than we wanted to be paying. Eventually we got comfortable with it and realized because clients were coming into the large space it kind of justified the cost of what we were charging people. When people walked in, they’d say, Whoa, this is a big shop.
So you started with a small shop, went to that large one and just recently moved into a medium-sized shop. What was the reason for the last move?
B: Our lease was up, so we just opted to move to another shop where some guys actually have CNC [computer numerical control] routers and laser machines.
We had to build out a second story for us to be there. Moving to a smaller space has been great. We had to throw out a bunch and now we can’t hoard. [Laughter.] It’s a more organized space. We don’t need 2000 square feet to wander around in.
N: Now we’re about 500 square feet.
B: And we’re actually down to about $500 in rent.
How did you learn your business skills – in school or on the fly?
N: Mostly on the fly, which is interesting because I have a finance degree. But I felt like when I finished school – even though I did really well – I thought, What do I do with what I learned? There was no applicable, real-world application.
B: You learned a lot doing photography.
N: Yeah, what not to do.
B: You talked with a lot of professional photographers who were making money and giving you tips on what to charge. That’s a big part of it, too, asking what people are charging.
N: Yeah, I definitely worked with other local photographers who were already doing it.
B: He’d call sign shops, too, when we were first starting, trying to get quotes on signs for certain sizes. It keeps it fair too, you don’t want to undercut other people and make other people look bad.
N: Which I learned from the other photographers who are making a living from it. I sat down with them and was really nervous about talking to them. And this dates back fifteen, eighteen years. One of them said, I’m so glad you’re here – here’s my price sheet and this is what I charge. He said we can’t have people just trying to get into the business and undercutting all the people who have spent time doing this because then it devalues everybody’s work. And that resonated with me for sure. In photography, I had a hard time because I wasn’t confident enough. But later on in life, I was able to use the advice a lot. We learned a lot, too, from Uinta.
B: I feel like if you’re just cool and human and ask the questions, people are willing to help.
Do you have standard contracts – or do you even have contracts?[Pause.]
B: Basically the $100 deposit is the contract. [Laughter.]
You haven’t had any problems not having contracts?
B: They’ve generally been good experiences. There’s always gonna be something that doesn’t turn out, but for the most part I feel like if people are ordering something custom, it’s good.
N: We definitely have had artist friends say, You guys should really do a contract. But we don’t want to deter our clientele from moving forward because typically it’s just an average family, not a business. We’re walking a fine line – we work with a lot of businesses, but most of our work is with everyday consumers.
B: Someone who saved a lot of money to get a nice gift. And this is the experience: They’ll pick it up and we’ll be like, Let’s have a beer! We’ll sit and look at the piece and talk about it and they’ll say, Oh, this is so great! People are crying and we’ll all hug and it’s a really good experience. We want to keep it that way, not like a cash register situation.
N: And the deposit was even a hard decision to make, but we were losing a lot of time. Spending so much time and people would just walk away.
B: Months’ worth of emailing and they’d just disappear.
N: So now people understand. We phrase it in a way where we just ask for this small amount. And most people say, Great, it’s no big deal, let’s do it.
What percent of sales are small consumers versus corporate or small businesses?
B: Maybe about 25% corporate?
N: Yeah, I’d say that’s a good ballpark. It’s tough to say because typically the corporate ones are larger projects, so then—
B: They’re more money.
What are your plans for the future?
B: There are certain things you have to do to grow a business. You either have to raise your prices or change the way you do your work, right? I can only router so much. So we either have to raise our prices to make a lot more money on each piece to grow, or make a lot of stuff but have machines do it. That’s kind of what it’s coming to.
We either have to decide to kick ass, reach out to a bunch of resorts and gift shops and make ten of a kind and have the machine do it for us, then paint and hand finish it, but not hand router it. It’s a scary thought because the best part is doing it all by hand.
You get a lot of referral work, but do you do other marketing? And if you do, what works?
B: Instagram has been our only marketing. And hashtagging. I straight up ask people how they found us and a lot of it’s from hashtagging. Isn’t that crazy?
What hashtags do you use?
B: #VisitSaltLake, which I hate to use because I don’t want people coming here, but I also want to do what I do for a living. [Laughter.] I mean, we live in the greatest place ever and the only way it’s going to be great is if there’s enough powder for us. [Laughter.] No, we want people coming here, obviously. A lot of our business is from out of state, from people traveling.
So yeah, a lot of made-by-hand tags. #MadeInUtah. I think #VisitSaltLake is the one people said they’ve seen the most.
N: #Woodworking. #UtahIsRad. Every time I post, though, I do random ones. [Laughs.]
B: And obviously you tag people in pictures. We need to get better at Instagram. But we’re as busy as we want to be right now.
N: We’ve done ads—
B: But nothing – literally nothing has come from an ad.
Do people just direct message (DM) you on Instagram or how do people get in touch? How does it transfer into a sale?
N: Usually people will be following us for a while, like a couple years, and they’ll finally reach out. Sometimes they’ll go to our website and use our custom form or they’ll DM us and say, I finally have an idea I wanna do, it’s my 5-year anniversary.
B: It seems like certain posts will set someone off and they’ll reach out.
What are some sacrifices you’ve made?
N: Time. Having normal evenings where you get off your day job and go biking or to dinner with friends. Often we have to work at the shop for a while or I have to go home and draw while she’s cooking dinner.
B: So just normalcy. But we’re busy bodies so I don’t know what we’d do with ourselves if we didn’t have something to do.
What are your biggest challenges right now?
N: I think for me would be determining what the future is for our business. Because we can go in so many directions. But what should we do?
B: And the guys downstairs in our shop are like, Why are you even doing it by hand? Do you not see these CNC machines we have? No one cares that it’s handmade. And we’re like, We think some people do. Because – the work’s got soul.
We’re thinking if we have the time, we’ll come up with some designs and do those CNC. Make ten of each and stock our website. Because a lot of people want to order pieces that are on our website. And a lot of people could care less that it’s handmade. They just want it in their house.
N: So that’s a pain point. Coming up with new ideas that are consistently similar to other things we’ve done, but different enough so they’re unique to that person.
B: I think our second year at Porcupine we realized we could just do “Alta” with a tree and it’ll sell. Just put the resort name. It seems all people want is their favorite resort with some trees on it. You try to come up with creative things, but it doesn’t really – people are like, That’s cool, but I don’t need that in my house.
Why do you do what you do?
B: It’s cool, it’s creative. The finished product is always satisfying.
N: I don’t think we ever thought we were going to be “artists.” We’re still just passionate about it and love it. And creating new things and seeing it hung is just fun. Clients send you pictures of it hanging above their mantle and you think, Awesome! We’ve had an opportunity to become artists and we’d never thought we would.
Interview edited for length + clarity.
Bree + Nate’s Gallery
All text + images courtesy of the artist unless otherwise noted.
The Lodgepole was inspired by the old postcards that said, “GREEETINGS FROM…” The animated Lodgepole pines are iconic to the Uinta Mountains where we spend a lot of time. We included the genus species name for a little extra content and interest.
The Christina and Adam piece was commissioned. It is on maple wood and was one of the first pieces we included a perimeter of design elements to encompass the location of their wedding location.
- Art Adoption
- The Artist’s Way book by Julia Cameron
- Signed & Numbered custom frame shop
- Uinta Brewing Company