For two months, the Spy has interviewed artists to find out how they have adjusted to the pandemic. Income challenges, the shuttering of galleries and music venues, anxiety over an uncertain future, leave us all trying to make sense about restructuring our lives.
We want to know how COVID-19 affected their creative output, and if it impacted the themes and styles of their various crafts.
Artists are not always solitary troglodytes hidden away in garrets (read bedroom studio, garage, or kitchen table.) Sometimes two artists work seamlessly together to create. It’s a balancing act of common and occasionally conflicting personality traits that together make something “third” that neither one would have completed alone.
Robbi Behr and Matthew Swanson do live in a sort of rustic garret— a small renovated barn in Chestertown—and their partnership, marriage, and creative chemistry as writer and illustrator has produced more than 60 children’s books under their press imprints, Idiot’s Books and Bobbledy Books, and by international publishing houses like Penguin Random House. The latter will be publishing their forthcoming Cookie Chronicles.
If you think that’s a feat, imagine also attending to their three children while working on one of their complex book projects all during the disruption of the pandemic. Somehow they juggle it all.
If they are not publishing books, they are engaging the broader community with their daily youtube adventures, “Picture Book Story and “Real McCoy Read-Along.” If you have children stuck at home during the pandemic, this is the engaging, interactive, and instructive learning outlet you need to watch.
Also, stay tuned for their new live youtube show geared to engage creatives of all ages. In an open forum, they will discuss the creative process, help with creative writing and illustration, and explore topics from writer’s block to publishing.
This video is approximately nine minutes in length. You can find information about Robbi and Matthew here.