Question The Artist: Bee Things

The cover of Volume 31, Issue 19 of the Dallas Observer was graced with the talent of local creative outfit Bee Things. Surely, many may have already seen some of their work out and about, at places like We Are 1976 and many an Etsy-Dallas event (as can be spied in one of our slide shows). We were very happy to have their happy creatures comfort our cover for this issue, and we asked Bee Things a few Qs so our readers can learn a little about the artist(s) behind the work. Jump to read the Q&A!
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So tell us who exactly are Bee Things, how did it all begin, and where do you do it all?
Shay Ometz and Jeff Barfoot are the cofounders of Bee Things, where they make art prints and posters, apparel, and products for kiddos and the home. Jim Henson once said, "My hope still is to leave the world a bit better than when I got here." Shay and Jeff love to create things that make them happy, and they hope to make the people out in the world that see them a bit happier, too. Their design and illustration work has appeared in Communication Arts, Print Magazine, Graphis, the One Show and the Dallas Society of Visual Communications show. Their home and work has been featured in ReadyMade magazine, The Dallas Morning News, D Home Magazine and on the popular blog design*sponge. Jeff and Shay live and work in Dallas, TX, with their two moppy-haired sons and their two mini weenie dogs, all four of which eat their food.

What would you consider to be Bee Things' specialty? What are some things as an artist you wish to do more of?
I would say we specialize in illustration and have done an array of projects ranging from book covers to wedding book covers to birthday party invites. We wish we had more time to actually screen print and produce our own items sometimes! Having two kids and two full-time jobs makes this part very hard.

In the lifespan of Bee Things, have there been any major obstacles to overcome in the evolution of your work? Have there been challenges that were NOT anticipated?
We started out positioning our prints for kids only and had plans to do bugs, dinosaurs and other kid-like art. One day we looked up and had over 20 bird prints in a range of styles that appealed to all groups. So far we've been very lucky to have our prints and home featured on great blogs and in great magazines. Our approach is very organic and we just try to go with the flow. Our biggest obstacle is time. We could use a few more days in the week.

Who can you credit as a major artistic influence to your style/kind of work?
If you don't know his work, the illustrator Charley Harper. We love illustrating and printing birds, and we've had a long-time love of them. We've been inspired both by Charley's work and to make prints of our illustrations. We try so hard not to do work that resembles his, but when you're screen printing birds, well, it's tough not to get compared to him. And Ray and Charles Eames for two completely different reasons. First, their design aesthetic is marvelous, and everything they touched -- be it furniture design, architecture, graphic design or textile design -- turned to gold. Secondly, the married couple created an amazing body of work together for all those years; they are our inspiration for creating a harmonious studio life and a home life together.

What are some "non-artistic" sources of inspiration for you, if any?
We have two young boys, and we've been constantly enjoying children's books and nature with them.  Also the Trinity River Audubon Center is  an inspiration for our bird prints. We also love all kinds of music, films, and other kinds of art (paintings, sculpture, product design, etc.). We try to get as much extra-curricular art inspiration in, and we think that even though the mediums are very different, good art of any kind rubs off on you and shows up in your work, even if it's hard to see a direct connection.

Are there any new/exciting big projects on the horizon for Bee Things?
We are pursuing some licensing projects and hope this is a direction we can move in. The most important thing on our list, though, is getting some new prints in the shop (butterflies coming soon!) and some cute tea towels.  

Lastly, is there a "dream" client/project that Bee Things wishes to obtain someday?
Our dream project is getting an illustration in the New York Times or The New Yorker or having Urban Outfitters license our art.

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