Brought together by a mutual appreciation for design and exploration, Lucy Voller and Molly Martancik met in college and formed an indelible friendship that would soon birth a long distance collaborative they call There-There. With Martancik based in Boston and Voller in Minneapolis, the two send inspiration and ideas back and forth to produce their line of wood and leather jewelry and watercolor illustrations, each contributing to both sides of the business which they sell via their Etsy shop. With plans to expand into media from knits to screen-printing, the designers continue to expand their cross-country practice. We caught up with them to talk about their working relationship and what it takes to run a collaborative via the Internet.
You work together on both sides of the collection, how does that work?
Martancik: We kind of started with an array of ideas. Lucy always has her hands in about 12 different processes. She would come back to the space with new tools and supplies, and I would just want to stop what I was doing to come and play with whatever she had found. I think that popping back and forth between materials, and between collaboration and individual work is what brings cohesion to the collection.
Voller: I think we’re both very interested in the process of exploration. Although I make more of the jewelry and Molly makes a lot of the watercolors, there has been a lot of cross-pollination and collaboration on different pieces of work. We try not to put rules on ourselves.
Where did the name There-There come from?
Voller: Finding a good name for what we set out to do was honestly one of our biggest challenges. After a lot of brainstorming, Molly emailed the idea to me and it clicked right away. I think it fits perfectly because of the different meanings it takes on that apply to us: a gesture of love and support, or the suggestion of two separate places.
How would you describe the aesthetic you try to convey in both your illustration and your jewelry?
Voller:We definitely try to maintain an aesthetic cohesion between all of our pieces. This has been a really fun challenge because we are very similar in some ways, but still have our own processes and working methods. I think we both know and appreciate each other’s style and aesthetic sensitivity enough to trust that there will be a common thread to hold the pieces together. We want each piece to feel light, creative, and kind of dreamy.
Can you walk us through the process of making each piece?
Martancik: All of the pieces are handmade though the components come from various places. Sometimes we use found or upcycled materials. When we were in the same space, we could literally work on one piece at the same time, or one of us would start and the other would come in with an idea. A lot of necklaces hang on the wall for a while in mid-process before they are finished.
Voller:We’ve had the chance to do a lot of creative experimentation in the last year. Each piece has become a combination of inspiration, curiosity, and intuition. Creating jewelry has been such a fun process because of the unique intimacy it creates with the viewer. I’ve always loved making things for other people and when someone buys a piece from us and says “I love this, I’m going to wear it everyday,” it’s a great feeling!
How do you sustain a collaboration between Minneapolis and Boston?
Voller: The Internet! We have a Google Doc correspondence almost like an ongoing journal where we share thoughts, projects, inspirations, visions and feedback. Our blog also acts as a place for us to share ideas but in a more public way. When Molly moved, we decided that we would use the blog in a more back-and-forth way to include our followers in the conversation.
Martancik: I love the idea of planting seeds and seeing where they end up. Sending something in the mail, or even posting to the blog and knowing that Lucy is going to see it later is super fun. I also love the concept of choosing the materials without having control of the outcome.
Are your respective studios a reflection of your personalities and design traits, or are they more of a blend of the two of you?
Voller: A little bit of both. Because Molly and I previously shared the studio I currently work in, her mark is definitely still there. There are artworks from our friends and teachers on the walls along with knick-knacks and plants we both loved all around. I love to have fresh flowers in the studio as often as possible, and have adorned our huge window (the studio’s best feature) with crystals to bring good energy to the space.
Martancik: When I moved I tried to create a studio environment that felt like Minnesota. I wanted it to be familiar and inspiring. There are lots of little Lucy treasures hiding all over—a Louise Bourgeois postcard from when Lucy was in Berlin, a sage birthday poem, and There-There business cards everywhere.
What is special about the art-style combination at There-There?
Martancik: This is the first time I’ve ever collaborated in this way, and it is not always so direct and literal. Sometimes Lucy makes a necklace and I make a drawing in response to it. I love that we can go in so many directions. On any day, we might work on drawings or paintings, jewelry, or other objects. I think we both also enjoy the challenge of curating the shop and looking at which pieces work well with one another.