When/why/how did Abacus Corvus begin?
I (Corina) had been selling art for a few years before my sister Jo came up with a brilliant idea: an illustrated calendar for 2012 called "The Last Calendar You'll Ever Need." (Remember when everyone thought 2012 would be the end times?) I'd been working primarily in pen and ink, Jo primarily made large oil paintings, and we wondered what it might look like to collaborate. Our first collaboration was a huge success, and we named our illustration team after our third calendar full of crows—it's a play on the idea of counting crows.
In what way does being in the PNW inform your art and your business?
I've been living in the Northwest since about 2013, while Jo lives in Asheville, North Carolina. I moved out here by accident, but something in the landscape and culture kept pulling on me to stay. It's both difficult and profoundly magical to maintain a collaborative art practice across this distance, with each of us bringing a lot of our own ecosystems into our shared work. We both talk to crows, notice plants, and have relationships with certain trees and bodies of water.
Tell us a bit about the aesthetic choices with your products - what does the process look like from conceptualization to execution of your product?
We think a lot about what will make an image iconic. We choose subjects and compositions that take us to the edge of what we already know about. We're satisfied when an image ends up both inevitable-seeming and also deeply strange. As collaborators, we've tried a lot of styles—from strict division of labor to both of us drawing at the same time on the same paper—and we've ended up in a space now where we brainstorm together, work on different pieces of the image separately, and come back together to finish each piece. All our images are originally hand-drawn, hand-painted, or hand-stitched and we do some minimal digital tweaking before printing.
What sort of products do you see in the future for Abacus Corvus- anything new coming on the horizon?
We have a lot of ideas, but a new divination deck is definitely something we're discussing!
We love the Portable Fortitude cards...if you had to choose one of them, which card would you recommend we carry at all times?
I used to carry "Protection from Heartbreak" until I realized how much I needed to have my heart broken open. Now, I carry two: "Protection from Bicycle Mishap" and "Protection from Authority."