Designers, artists, crafters, artisans: all good words to describe the work of the duo behind the Peregrine Consortium, but in their own words, they're just a couple of creative people who want to make cool stuff and share it with you. Lovers of the physical (remember books, records, and paper?) and a down-to-earth, blue-collar aesthetic, Brett and Samantha combine their creative powers to create screen prints, cards, wood blocks, clocks, birdhouses, and more. If you're at all familiar with the Save Criminal Records effort, you've likely seen their handiwork firsthand. We caught up with the dynamic duo and, over cold beers at the Porter, talked about why they love making art that's accessible, a little quirky, and (in our humble opinion) straight-up awesome.
SCOUT: Tell us a little about how the Peregrine Consortium came to be.
Brett: I think it started out of a discontent with the status quo -- we needed a creative outlet because we both come from creative backgrounds. At the time, I was doing a lot of freelance design. We found out pretty early on that we collaborated well together -- I'd be working on a poster for the ATL Collective and come to her with questions; she'd be working on her stationary and come to me. She figured out, I have to do this thing, but how do I do it? Now that I'm doing it, how do I get people to hear about it? So I helped her with Twitter, Facebook, a blog... so at first, it was me helping her set things up. I had dabbled in doing some screenprints of my own, and thought maybe we should just really come together and tackle all aspects of it together. Some were her projects, some were mine, and then we started to collaborate on things we were selling in the shop, so we decided to brand it and call it something.
Sam: Although being creative at work, we still weren't doing exactly what we enjoy doing. It's almost like you have to do it, if you're a creative person you realize it's not because you want to, it's because you have to. So it came to be through that, and through our commonalities.
SCOUT: And you guys balance each other out pretty well?
Brett: We figured out pretty early on that we collaborate well. That's not to say there isn't the occasional debate, but at the end of the day, I respect her creative input and her creative expertise. It's kind of a trade-off: when it comes to color, she's a genius, and my thing is typography, so she usually comes to me for that. But we balance each other out -- I'll go to her for things and vice versa. Even if I disagree with what she says, I'll never disregard it because it's pretty damn valuable.
SCOUT: So what are your creative backgrounds?
Sam: I grew up with a father that made me help him build a porch at the age of ten, and I lived on a farm, so I was very hands-on as a child. Then, after deciding to go study painting and photo, I wanted to do that more so than design. In college, your professors build you up to strive for high-end fine art, and teach you that low brow is bullshit. So in my head, I'm thinking that I don't want to become the lawn artist, I want to be famous and get published and show at the nicest museums in the cities. Once college was over, though, reality hit me, and I realized that I don't want to be part of the small group of people who think that only one thing is art, or that something that sits behind your couch is art and is worth something. When I moved here, I saw the community that supports art that people actually enjoy and is accessible, and it's so much more fun. There's pleasure in doing it, and pleasure in helping support someone do it. So that's when I started thinking, "f*** the canvas, I wanna do birdhouses!" What's something that everyone can utilize? We all live in a city, and we all want our home to be like our sanctuary. In my mind, it's my patio, and my little tiny square of grass out front, and we both love birds, so just bringing them to our house is nice and pleasant. So, birdhouses was one of the first things I made. In school, I learned how to make paper, and I've always been obsessed with journals and stationary, so I wanted to do that as well. But it's the idea of bringing art to the little things that people actually enjoy, not so much "What can I buy that's $5,000 that I don't really enjoy?"
Brett: I'd agree with that. One of my favorite phrases in the whole world is "blue collar." I think that's a beautiful thing. i think in today's society, people try to be very extravagant and fancy, but I've always prided myself on being blue collar. I think that's where we come from internally. Art for regular people. Everyone can appreciate art. I mean, of course we have our own things we nerd out about. As far as my background... I loved design before I even knew what design was. I grew up as a little rugrat running past my dad's stereo, and he'd tell me, "Don't run past that, the records will skip!" So, one day I decided to look at what all these "records" were, and I saw all of this amazing art on the album covers, and thought, I want to do this thing. That led me to go to design school, and I became obsessed with design, especially screenprinted posters and letterpressed posters. Especially letterpress in general. I had the opportunity to intern with a letterpress shop in Tennessee, and that's what led me to really fall in love with type: you utilize type physically, it wasn't just on a computer screen. So that really engaged my brain as far as what type could do. Type wasn't just words on a screen or on a piece of paper. It communicated a thought or an emotion. I'd look at typography and see all these beautiful things. Some people might see it as just words on a surface and think it's mundane, but I see it as fascinating. We wanted to just make art out of everyday life.
SCOUT: Tell us about the work you did with Save Criminal Records.
Brett: Initially, my entrance into this whole thing was with screenprints. I love doing prints and gig posters. I'd actually done a print about a year or two ago that was kind of my silly little ode to old physical formats of music. Recently I wanted to make another screenprint celebrating music, since music is definitely one of my first loves. Oddly enough around that same time, the news about Criminal Records broke, and so I wanted to help. I felt kind of silly, because I was kind of this dude who spends too much money on records, and it was like, "Hey guys, I made this cool little poster, wanna see it?" So really, it was an experiment that I was expecting to fail. That's why with the first edition, I only printed about 16 of them, put them up in the Etsy store, told some friends about them, and took them up to Criminal to see what they thought. And those all sold pretty quickly, so I decided to print more. It was really born out of my love for music, and my desire to be involved in the local community. As small as my role might be, I had to play my role. The best way I knew how to do that was to say, "Here's some art that I've done. If it can benefit Criminal Records, great!" They obviously have a big deficit in front of them, and what I've contributed so far is not much in the grand scheme. But it's roughly $300 that neither Criminal Records nor I had before. So it's gotten some positive feedback and has brought a little attention to us. My first order of business was to help the store. My second was, if this lets people know about what we're doing as well, then cool.
SCOUT: What else are you working on?
Sam: I know who I am as a person, and I want to do something that I would want to buy or something that would tickle my fancy. So I'm thinking, seasonal stuff is coming up, what do I want to work on? And I've been wanting to do these badass stockings. You go to your corporate store, and they've got these little felt maroon stockings with fluff around the top, maybe some walnuts glued to them, and I'm just like, "No!" I've been wanting to get Brett involved because we both love patterns and anything with something quirky and maybe a little sinister involved with it. We both love screenprinting and can appreciate that artform. So we're trying to come up with some funky stockings. And on top of that, holiday cards to send people and let them know they're being thought of, but just doing them in our way. You go to Target, you don't automatically see something that is exciting or fun or says exactly what you want to say.
SCOUT: And you guys will be repping at Chomp 'n Stomp, too!
Brett: As far as Chomp 'n Stomp, it just goes back to what we were saying about local community: we love going and being able to support local artisans, hear local music, eat chili from local chili experts. Sam's lived in the shadow of Atlanta all her life; I'm a recent transplant; but we both consider Atlanta home now. I can't stress enough how, to us, community is important. It's not like I think Piedmont Park is the coolest park in the world, it's just that it's the people who live here who make this city what it is, and the people who start businesses here. Chomp 'n Stomp for us is a chance to love on our city and partake in the community.
My thing lately is local community. I don't want to get on a soapbox and tell people to buy all their stuff locally, but there's an enriching thing about having a community around you. We've had a lot of local artists be very supportive of us, and we weren't necessarily expecting that. There are so many local artists that we would kill to have an ounce of their talent. Twofour Manufacturing, R. Land... there's just so much talent here. We've been inspired, and hopefully we can inspire someone. We just want to give back. And we've been super thankful that Criminal Records have been supportive of what we've done for them, we're thankful that other artists have been encouraging... and we just want to have fun and make cool shit.
Cool shit, indeed. Check out the work of the Peregrine Consortium on Etsy, follow 'em on Twitter and Facebook, and stop by their booth at Chomp 'n Stomp this weekend. You might be able to pick up one of these sweet 'staches for your ride.