SECRETS OF THE CITY INTERVIEW WITH JOSHUA HARDISTY AND KIMBERLEE WHALEY
Kelsey Johnston was visited the studio for a feature in the Twin Cities local culture site Secrets of the City. Kelsey took a ton of photos (on film, no less) that really show what the studio is like and then interviewed us. We’re not sure what happened but come interview time we made no sense whatsoever (or very little sense). So we decided that maybe we should redeem ourselves and the answer the questions more competently.
Studio Visit with The MVA Studio (2010)
Photos and interview by Kelsey Johnston. The MVA answers edited by Joshua and Kim.
As if married life on its own wasn’t busy enough, husband and wife team Kimberlee Whaley and Joshua Hardisty currently run the The MVA Studio and put out some of the most viewed design work in the Twin Cities. MVA’s portfolio includes the Soap Factory’s Haunted Basement and recentA Theory of Values show, as well as design for MCAD and the Weisman Art Museum. Additionally, when Kim is not helping out with the studio end of things, she’s doing wedding photographythat mixes with her personal work.
Secrets of the City: Where are you guys from?
Joshua : Newport, Rhode Island
Secrets: How did you get started working in your field?
KW: I started taking photography classes in high school and that’s how I started to get into photography. I encouraged Joshua to enter into graphic design because we did this little stint where we moved to Philadelphia for 24 hours and it was really crappy. We were in West Philly and we were walking around in dirty slushy streets in December and I said “Hey, why don’t you go to school for graphic design and I’ll do whatever” which eventually turned back into photography. We went to community college in Massachusetts for awhile and started looking for a four-year school to get BFA’s from. Joshua discovered an MCAD (Minneapolis College of Art & Design) catalog and decided we had to go there. We found out there was a National Portfolio Day at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn so were went up there to see someone from MCAD. We got in line and waited there for 2 or 3 hours…
Secrets: Oh really?
Joshua: Yeah, I was super sick. We took a bus from Rhode Island to New York, a five hour bus ride and I felt like dying the whole time. We almost didn’t go but we had no other opportunities to meet with them.
Kim: So, when we were in line for the MCAD reviewer and once its our they shut all the lights off. National Portfolio Day is over and we’re like “No!”.
Joshua : So we begged this woman…
Kim: To take a look at our work and she ended up giving me a waiver for an application fee and then she interviewed Joshua and that’s how we decided to go to MCAD for photography and design.
Secrets: That’s a great story!
Joshua: We threw everything into going to MCAD because the catalog at the time was amazing but we didn’t know anything about Minneapolis other than it being cold and in the midwest.
Kim: I had also gotten a scholarship and we had just gotten married so we asked everyone for cash so we could move out here.
Secrets: Tell me about some of your recent work.
Joshua : Earlier this year we asked the Soap Factory if they needed any help with anything.
Kim: We kind of knew that they needed help because our dear friend Matt Zaun who died a few years ago was their designer and we noticed that they never really filled his spot and he had done some really awesome things for the Soap Factory and we felt like he needed to be honored and that their communications kind of needed to get back up to Matt’s level. We’ve been going to the Soap since we moved to Minneapolis and we’ve always loved them so we wanted to see how and if we could help. We hit it off right away and bonded over our mutual admiration for Matt as a person and designer.
Joshua: We offered to do all their design for this year and I think we’ll continue to do most of their design in 2011. We’re all on the same kind of level. With the Haunted Basement poster there’s this expectation for the poster to be evil and dark but, it’s the Soap Factory so they don’t really want it to look like a typical haunted house theme.
Kim: And they don’t want it to be little kid-like either.
Joshua: We have an old friend from Rhode Island named Pippi Zornoza who does these amazing illustrations and we do tons of Photoshop work for so she owed us a favor. We asked her for some raw materials to and and then designed and printed a small edition for The Soap Factory to use a souvenir of the event.
Kim: Pippi is so genuine with the way things she makes represent her. They’re dark and a little weird and that is just how she is so we knew that she would do a good job because she’s not trying to make something for Halloween. This is her art and who she is and the Soap Factory fell in love with the work we showed them and the description of her. She’s makes lace, does this intense performance art. When the Soap Factory told us what they wanted we knew exactly who to go to.
Secrets: Joshua—what is a tool that you can’t live without?
Joshua: The MCAD library is probably the best tool, just sort of rummaging through 60’s Italian design books or old MoMA catalogs or whatever. I teach at MCAD on Saturdays and I use a lot of my lunch breaks to go to the library. I’ll go there for one thing and I’ll use the whole lunch break and come out with arms full of stuff.
Kim: That’s how we start any project really, is we’ll go to the MCAD library and come up with an idea. (Left unedited because I can’t believe we said that out loud. Hopefully there’s more to our ideas than that.—Joshua)
Secrets: Kim, What’s your favorite part of the process of photography?
Kim: Shooting. I hate all of the production work afterwards I wish I had a magic wand that would make them all beautiful so that after I’m done shooting I wouldn’t have to do that.
Secrets: What’s your favorite part about living in Minneapolis?
Kim: The green space…
Secrets: What’s your favorite Minneapolis establishment?
Joshua: I really like the 7th Street Entry. Especially when they banned smoking in Minneapolis.
Kim: The Walker.
Secrets: Childhood dream career?
Kim: Oceanographer or Doctor.
Joshua: Professional skateboarder.
Kim: Or paleontologist.
Joshua: That was mine, too, from ages six through ten, I think.
Secrets: Is Northeast the new Uptown?
Kim: I don’t know we haven’t really ventured out into Northeast really.
Joshua: Yeah, we’re really only in Northeast to come to the studio and then we head back to where we live in South Minneapolis.