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Asking people to pay for something you made can be a scary thing. My first creative endeavor involved painting rocks and selling them at the end of our driveway. I attribute my lack of sales to the fact that we lived in a cul-de-sac with little thru traffic. Once a month or so my family would amuse my “restaurant” suppers where they were seated at a tiny table in my bedroom and presented with a lovely hand-drawn menu which typically offered one entree, and three or four dessert options. They would order, wait for me to make brownies, and then eat and even tip. (My older sister remembers being forced to try my “egg-drop soup” which we’re all fairly certain was just a few whisked eggs and warm water.) I even tried to market my melted sculptures — plastic cutlery held over a flame and distorted in fantastic ways (not sure where my parents were for this one). Each time I had stumbled upon something I thought was beautiful and longed to share it with whoever would allow me.

Fast forward twenty-five years (a husband, a baby and one cross-country move later), and the making money part is actually pretty important. But oh, how quickly the passion can evaporate when that becomes the end-goal. Time and time again when I see my work slip into a repetitive, go-through the motions approach, a little alarm goes off in my brain reminding me that it’s time to do something creative on my own. Personal projects are basically the adult version of our childhood play. They offer the freedom to get lost in imagination and wonder and “what if.” No agenda, no end goal except to create.

Ashley Wilcox and I finally met for coffee after trying to ignore the insistence from mutual friends that we would be great buddies. She was a designer with a tasty food blog and I was a photographer with an appreciation for tasty food, we began collaborating and were quickly reminded that two can be better than one. We shared the excitement of owning our own businesses, but also the isolation that can take a toll on your work and your heart when working alone. In the Spring of 2013, we launched Hart & Honey Collective, a physical studio space that allowed us the separation of home and work and the opportunity to come together on several projects, not to mention the luxury of a fresh set of eyes when you’ve stared at a project for too long. We also nestled into a little corner of the web that allowed us to encourage other freelancers in their creative endeavors. Always aware of the importance of doing personal work, we had a wonderful giant roll of paper on the back wall that held a number of crazy ideas and exciting goals — things we wanted to explore and methods we wanted to learn.

A field trip to a friend’s bee farm was our first big exploration. I brought my camera along and we were given real beekeeper hoods and survived a handful of stings (literally, all over my camera hand). We left with a head full of new information, a greater appreciation for bees and the people that keep them, and a load full of delicious wildflower honey. The experience only grew our desire and so we dove head first into the topic and began creating content — something to eat, something to make, stories of adventure and interviews with experts. Lovely imagery and practical ways to implement changes, big and small, in our own lives. This stuff was too good to keep on the internet, we needed to print it.

Though much of our respective work is done on a computer (Ashley designing and I editing photos), we’re big fans of tangible material. Our work is only 75% complete when viewed on the screen – there’s something so final and intentional about a professionally printed design or image. We each enjoy and consume some really lovely publications but they left us wanting more — a journal we could consume as a family, as a group of friends. Content that would interest us and our husbands, and why not a little something for the kids. And why make it so precious that you couldn’t tear out a recipe to share with your best gal pal? First and foremost, our publication would be easily digestible and meant to be consumed together, think 1950’s breakfast table when dad reads the news, hands over the funnies to the kiddos, and saves the recipes for mom. Something for everyone to learn. To STUDY.

When it comes down to it, we did it because we wanted to. And the beauty of the project was that we believed in it. Sure, the possibility of it growing and generating some money would be great. But the freedom to experiment and take risks and try new things can often only be achieved when separated from “business-y” constraints. From the start, this was about experiencing new things and meeting new people. STUDY: A single-topic nature journal for those who love to learn about the world.

We committed to printing three issues that year. The themes came rather easily because we were determined to study ideas that genuinely interested us. We challenged ourselves to style and create and photograph outside of our norm. We set aside a time each week to meet and brainstorm and play. The Bee Issue released in the spring of 2014 and included instructions for making beeswax birthday candles and a cocktail recipe using bee pollen. For the winter issue we visited a sheep farm in their fluffy state and then again three months later for sheer date after which our sweet shepherdess invited us into her 1800’s wood-heated farm house for soup and biscuits. Our Sea Issue included a centerfold of horizons from around the world and so we collected a handful of new international friends (thanks, Internet!). When it comes down to it, we did it because we wanted to. And the beauty of it was that we believed in it. STUDY has given us the chance to meet artists, makers, chiefs and adventurers from all walks of life.

And so the people and the experiences that we’ve collected have become our driving force. The thing that motivates us and urges us to keep going; the things we will remember from STUDY. Thankfully, as tends to be the way with personal, passion-driven work overflows into your money-making work. Our design and photography portfolios were given a little face-lift. The publication has allowed us to show the work we want to be doing and therefore given us the chance to do more of it.

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Written by Lily Glass of Hart & Honey
Article photos by Lily Glass Photography, title photo by Ben Derks

Hart & Honey is the creative collaboration of Ashley Wilcox (graphic designer) & Lily Glass (photographer). We began working together in the Spring of 2012 when we realized that collaborating made our final products even better and the process more enjoyable. We seek to generate quality content, meaningful conversation and tangible goods that make life a little lovelier.