Creative Couples: Caleb & Hanahlie17 November 2009
Introducing a weekly interview series about creative couples, exploring their work, experiences, and what they have found to love about working with their significant other. We start off with Caleb and Hanahlie.
Caleb Beyers and Hanahlie Beise are a husband and wife team based in Vancouver, BC. Their collaborative work spans graphics, photography, installations, film/video, and interior/industrial design. They work together producing gallery based work, and client-based work under the moniker “CASTE“. They share a small, alternately chaotic and organized space with their two spotted Bengal cats, Samson and Spartacus.
How did the two of you meet, and how long have you been together?
Hanahlie and Caleb met at a clothing store in Victoria, BC. Caleb came into the store to deliver a print for a friend of the store’s owner, she gave him her phone number, but he never called. A few weeks later they went home together after a party, and barely spent a moment apart in the following 60 days. 60 days after their first night apart, they got on a plane, and moved to New York together. They’ve been in Vancouver now for 11 months, and are heading to Banff for an artist residency (together), this week.
They’ve been together now for almost two and a half years. They’ve been married for 17 weeks.
What’s it like working with your better half?
C: It’s great, for the most part. There’s always someone to keep you in check, and to keep you on an even keel. It’s very rare that when you’re down, your partner’s down too. Plus, Hanahlie’s a lot more organized than I am, so she helps me to keep my feet on the ground, and to keep from letting things fall apart. The most productive weeks of my life have been the weeks since we’ve been married.
It’s also wonderful to have someone who gives you the support and encouragement that you might not otherwise be able to give to yourself. You can get completely wrapped up in something, and know that when you come out of the other side, there will be someone there who can help you make sense of the bigger picture again. It’s also generally the littlest push that can help you get through the biggest struggles. It works both ways, too.
Plus, celebrating the completion of projects together… It’s hard to top.
H: Its great! I love working with Caleb. I think we fit really well together. He has so many ideas, really good ideas, and I think Im a bit of a filter for the ones that are more possible than others. In a way I’m more of a realist than Caleb is, I guess.
What are the benefits of living/working together?
C: The benefits are that there are generally fewer communication issues (than you would with co-workers). It’s hard to forget to tell someone about something when they’re standing or sitting right beside you. We’re pretty much in constant communication, so we rarely miss a beat. Plus, since we approach our work from a lifestyle perspective (for lack of a better description), and we’re never really “off the clock” there are no arguments that start with “you’ve just been working too much.” We do go through periods that make us realize how important it is to take breaks, and to make time for each other.
H: Benefits are endless. When there’s a problem we deal with it right away. A lot of the time spent is on our relationship, it overlaps with our work, we love what we do, and we inspire each other. A huge part of what makes it work is that we understand the business together, we know what it takes, and we know what we have to do.
C: Sometimes it’s hard to know when to work together (i.e. side-by-side), and when to work independently. There’s something about being alone with yourself, and only your own inhibitions to constrain the places you can go with an idea. On the other hand, there’s something about riffing on an idea, and breaking it down, or expanding it with the help of someone else. We try to avoid the concept of ownership over an idea, but when ideas get put up against each other, it can get tricky.
H: The disadvantage would be that we are functioning as a couple and as business partners. It’s hard to be critical of your partner (couple) and take criticism. We have to break down the emotional barriers and comfort zones that most couples face.
Has your work changed as a result of living/working together, if so how?
C: It’s definitely changed. But my work has been changing since day one, so it’s hard to separate things out. I guess the biggest thing is that I’m much more organized, and more assertive. I know when I should and shouldn’t tackle (and what WE should and shouldn’t tackle). I’ve gotten much better at turning down bad projects, and figuring out legitimate compensation for the good ones.
H: It has definitely changed for me. I was mostly photography based before this. Now what we do spans from photo to illustration and design to video. It’s always interesting!
Are you currently collaborating on anything at the moment?
We’re always collaborating, both for clients, for galleries, and for ourselves. We’ve got a few album art projects on the go. We’re working with a small, international jewelry label, a fashion label, a coffee shop, a brewery, two clothing boutiques, and a restaurant. I’ve always got a bunch of drawings, sculptural projects, and film/video work on the go. We’re stepping things up though, and going a little bit deeper with everything – we’ve got some great clients that are letting us really run with their/our ideas, and we’re working on a handful of gallery shows, starting with a series of relational projects we’re initiating at the Banff Centre in the coming month.
Any advice for future creative couples?
Don’t keep score.
Thanks Caleb and Hanahlie! We’ll follow up with you guys when you get back from your joint artists residency in Banff.