Here’s the interview….
It seems like you have known each other since you were little kids, is this true… how and when did you meet and when was Jolby born?
Colby: Haha not since we were kids, but that’s cool that you’d think that. Josh and I met at the Art Institute of CA – San Diego during my final year. We realized something we liked about each others work and we both wanted to work together on something. Josh had the idea after we graduated to start up a clothing company which was our first big project and a test run of if we could work together. At that point in time we were more business partners than friends and I’d say that the pendulum has swung over to the opposite side now. During the clothing project, a guy we were working with dubbed us “Jolby” and it has stuck ever since. When we realized the clothing thing wasn’t what we wanted to do, we continued to work on art projects and client work as Jolby and haven’t stopped since.
Josh: Yea it was pretty much all business when we started working together. When I moved to Chicago we talked every day on the phone or ichat about work and goofy junk so it naturally turned into a friendship. I think that if we were friends first it wouldn’t have worked so well in the beginning.
Your name Jolby comes from the combination of your first names Josh and Colby, does this mean each piece put out by Jolby is always a collaboration or is this more like a collective with some individual works?
Colby: Josh and I started out working together as separate artists where we would come together for the thought process behind each piece and then go to our separate corners and make it. For the past few years we’ve been having our own handy-work on each piece and we really like the collective style of it all. So, yes, each piece we put out is always a Jolby collaboration. There’s usually some part of everything we do that involves the both of us. Granted, we’ll get commissioned for something or have an idea that only requires one of us to produce it, but the other one is always there to help push the piece to make it better and work the idea out.
Do you guys have any rules or understandings when working together?
Josh: I think if we do have rules, they are unspoken. Before we started working together, neither of us had ever worked with another creative so closely so we had to invent what worked for us. Now it’s just a natural process, but these are things we remind ourselves to keep in mind when collaborating: Keep an open mind, be a good listener, do what will benefit the project and not your own personal itch, and be honest.
Colby: It’s not always easy but we constantly talk about the process and any concerns. It’s very important to us that it never gets to the point that one of us is pissed about something or wanting to take a project in a different direction. Talking all the time has been our best rule that we have put into place.
Your website is jolbyandfriends.com… have you guys collaborated with others, too?
Colby: Yes we have. We are collaboration nerds. I think it comes from being separate individuals that come together on every aspect of our company. So, we see the value in collaborating with others from a distance and it’s easy to spot who would fit well into our equation. Our web address came out of necessitation since Jolby dot com was already taken. Because of the URL, we get referred to a lot as “Jolby & Friends”.
Josh: For our first solo show “Home is Where You Make it” we collaborated with Jill & Erin Lynch of Dolls for Friends. They made plush dolls of the characters we created for the show which was a blast (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jolby/3316242019/in/set-72157614272296303). After that we worked with a good friend of ours who is a photographer on a solo show called Sea Legs at Together Gallery. It was completely different from our first show; concepting with photos and trying to tell a story across 2 mediums (http://jolbyandfriends.com/work/art-shows/sea-legs-art-show). Our most recent collaboration was on a children’s book called “The King’s 6th Finger” which was a self-initiated, self-published book which then got picked up by the publisher Ginkgo Press. We worked with Portland writer Rachel Roellke Coddington who took our small short poem about this king and turned it into this fun and wacky children’s book.
What are your strengths as artist super heroes?
Colby: My artist super hero strength would probably be my weird ideas. I feel that over the years I can reach into a really weird place in my brain to come up with a character, or a story, or a weird way to draw something.
Josh: My artist super hero strength would be my eye for detail and textures. I try to bring alot of the world around us into our work.
What are you guys striving for?
Colby: Our goal for 2011 (our first year as an independent Design & Illustration studio) was just to survive as far as money goes and do work that made us happy and that we were really proud of. Looking ahead we are always aiming to get better at what we do, to be better people, and to keep pushing ourselves as artists as far as we can.
Josh: Our big goal is to keep growing as a studio. We want to keep bringing in fun projects and taking on new opportunities. We got to work on alot of video projects this year and that was an area that we never thought we would get into. So, we will continue to take those kind of opportunities. One our goals of 2011 was to take some time off and work on our next art show without having to do client work. That will be a goal for us every year; To take some time and create projects for us whether it’s a children’s book, an art show or just something that we can just have fun with.
Which famous couple do you guys match best Ernie & Bert, Abbott & Costello, The Odd Couple Felix & Oscar, Laurel & Hardy or maybe you know of one that I’m missing? and why?
Colby: I think we’re more like Timon & Pumbaa from the Lion King. We’re just a couple of weirdos making people smile, doing strange things together and running amok.
Josh: They aren’t famous but Jake and Fin from Adventure Time. Mainly because those two dudes are crazy weird and if we could harness their weirdness, then we could make some fun pieces.
Earlier this year, you completed your children’s book,”The King’s 6th Finger“… tell us about it and what did you learn from this project?
Colby: I woke up one morning a few years back with a strange tale in my head about a king who was obsessed with the number 5. One day he grows a 6th finger and freaks out. About a year or more ago, we dug up this old poem and Josh and I sat down to figure out how to make it happen. We have always been inspired by mid-century children’s book illustrators and we thought this was our chance to take a stab at it. We teamed up with Rachel Roellke Coddington to write the poem out into a short story for a kid’s book and she did an incredible job. Josh and I are by no means writers, so it was nice to rely on someone to take that off our hands.
The original ending in the short poem was that he basically said “screw this I am a lazy king let’s just stick with the number 6 now”. However, after talking with some professionals in the field of psychology, they recommended that instead of him just getting crazier, he would relinquish his obsession with the number 5 and move on with his life. I think this ending is much better, especially for a reader with obsessive compulsive disorder (which the King has), to show them that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
We decided to self-publish the book for creative control and to actually get the thing made. We spoke with a publisher before deciding this and it sounded like we were going to have to change a lot of the book and it might not see the light of day for years. So, we put the project up on Kickstarter.com and raised $8,000 to pay for the printing of the book. We offered donators unique rewards that they’d only get through donating (like plush dolls, sketches from the book, and more). The project was a huge success and we only have a few hundred books left from our initial run. Self-publishing our first title was an incredible experience and I’d recommend it to everyone interested in putting their work out there. It has given us a printed example to hand to a publisher as to our abilities in that part of the art world and it has landed us a few illustration gigs from publishers. “The King’s 6th Finger” will also be published by Gingko Press in hardbound Fall 2011.
Josh: The main thing we took from it was to always finish what you start. So many side projects begin, lose steam and disappear. We got a lot of satisfaction out of finishing such a huge project and it keeps rewarding us.
Do you have any upcoming shows, that you would like to tell us about?
Josh: We are returning to Subtext Gallery in San Diego during December for a solo show called “Shapes & Smiles”. It’s going to explore everything that makes us happy and it will hopefully be a big body of work. We’ve been gathering ideas in our sketchbooks since the start of the year for pieces we want to include and all of the work will start within the next month or so. We want to do this show at Subtext because it’s where we had our first solo show and those guys have been great to us over the course of our careers and have given us a lot of opportunities.
We are also in talks of doing something at Land Gallery(Portland) in 2012. We really love their space and hope to work something out in there.