The only thing more challenging than using frenetic DIY self-publishing to springboard a career in children's books might be running a commercial salmon fishery on the Alaskan tundra from a cabin with no electricity, no toilet, and four kids. That's why I was so excited to talk to Robbi Behr and Matthew Swanson, the illustrator-author-married-with-4-kids duo.
Robbi illustrates, Matthew writes, and together they make picture books for kids and adults.
Robbi and Matthew are a whirlwind of creative action, and their story is just a crazy tale of inventing a creative life that allows them to make the work that's 100% most aligned with who they are and what they value.
They started on this path when Matthew got his "most withering rejection", which slammed the door on how they thought their lives would play out.
They turned even this painful setback into an opportunity, so it's no surprise that their approach to life has opened the door to amazing lucky breaks.
In this interview, we talk about the value of the right kind of day job, how to develop a unique and authentic brand, and why you should definitely NOT try to marry Robbi Behr.
More from the episode...
Robbi is an illustrator/printmaker/commercial salmon fisherwoman with a BA from Williams College and an MFA from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Matthew is a writer/art director/blues harmonica player who has so far failed in every attempt to be swashbuckling.
Robbi illustrates. Matthew writes. Together they make picture books for kids and adults. They’re also married. And they do all this with four kids.
They’ve published books including Everywhere Wonder, The Real McCoys, Babies Ruin Everything, and more than 70+ self-published books before breaking into commercial press!
Next up for this duo? They're converting a 24 foot school bus into a tiny home that they'll be living in with their four kids (and a puppy!) while they travel for a year and give away 50,000 free books to high-poverty schools! They're currently fundraising for this project, and you can learn more about it here.
Plus, check out “The Daily Minute” — a series of daily videos exactly a minute long (there’s a timer and everything) that purport to be about their creative process, but often include marital antics, funny things that have happened to them, cameos by their kids, and lots of cheese balls on either Instagram or Facebook.
Connect with Robbi Behr and Matthew Swanson
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