Interview: Tori Tissell, Creator and Owner of Storiarts

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us_2_mediumTori and Chris Tisell are the husband and wife team behind the literary accessories company Storiarts. Storiarts combines passages from literature with items such as scarves, writing gloves and t-shirts. Started out of desperation, the two have worked to create a unique business for literature lovers all over the world. We recently asked Tori a few questions about Storiarts, working with her husband and her favorite works of literature.

FGN: How did the first piece of Storiart come to be? What prompted you to open Storiarts as a business?

Tori: The idea came out of desperation! I needed Christmas gifts for friends and family, but as a poor recent grad drowning in student loans, my options were seriously limited. I was simultaneously trying to find a way to combine my passions of art, literature, fashion and printmaking. While keeping this in mind and reading my Bible one day, the idea to put sections of literature on fabric and create something beautiful and utilitarian just hit me. It was such an exhilarating experience because my finished product looked exactly like I had imagined it.

As an introvert, I never, ever wanted to be a business owner, but I made a few extra scarves to see if I could make some extra money on the side. In the late hours of the night I somehow snatched one amazing photograph, I created an Etsy account, I listed what I could, and violà, a business was born. They were gone within days. Next I had too many messages than I could deal with from people asking for more. It was literally an overnight success and I quit my desk job not too long afterwards.

FGN: How long have you been running Storiarts?

Tori: Three years and three month! Three years of that has been full time for me and for the last 2+ years it’s all my husband has done for work. We also just hired our first full time employee.

FGN: As a husband and wife team, how do you keep work at work and home life and home?

Alice_scarf_01_large

Alice in Wonderland Scarf

Tori: We’re still working on that! We each have our own office and that helps, otherwise I’d be interrupting Chris way too often. Since there are two of us, we’re able to hold the other accountable and sometimes that means telling the other when to stop working cause it’s hard to honor the weekend when you work from home. I also try to keep work stuff out of site during the off hours so that I can actually relax and forget about it. We just moved and before hand that was nearly impossible. Now I can happily shut the doors to my office and printing studio and my dinning room table isn’t always covered with product! Having space really, really helps.

FGN: How do you choose the works of literature that you feature? Do you have to wait for books to enter public domain before you use them? Are there any books that you’ve flat out decided against ever using? 

Tori: The text is often chosen from our favorite literary excerpts and we like pieces to have a moral or meaning behind them. We also get a lot of customer input and some pieces have been the product of back and forth interaction. The gal who gave us the part for Les Mis: her middle name is Val Jean! Named after the main guy himself! It was awesome. Whenever this happens, we send a free piece to the collaborator.

Yes, books do have to be within the public domain; unless we’re given a licensing agreement and we just achieved our very first one (it only took a whole year!)! E.E. Cummings “I Carry Your Heart” will be our first piece of Modern literature!

I’m sorry World but we will never, not even with an agreement, use 50 Shades of Grey. That’s just not the kind of message we want to get across!

FGN: Are there any books you anticipate putting up in the store soon?

Tori: Dracula will hit “shelves” next month! Then Peter Pan. After that we’re not sure.  If you follow us on Facebook you can be a part of the poles we conduct to help decide!

FGN: What is your best-selling piece?

Tori: No surprise here: Pride & Prejudice and Alice comes in second 😉

FGN: What is your favorite book?

Tori:    Out of the ones we use? Jane Eyre will always be at the top of this list because of how she strives to do what is right, not what feels good, and she doesn’t sacrifice her morals for the sake of convenience. Of course Pride & Prejudice is a favorite because of Elizabeth Bennet’s humor, wit, and ability to so articulately say what is on her mind. However, I don’t think anything will ever surpass my affection towards Harry Potter.

Chris says: I could never pick just one.

FGN: Do you have a favorite piece in your store?

Tori: Alice in Wonderland.  That book has a beautiful depth to it, I think it’s visually very pleasing, and I am thrilled with how my illustrations turned out.

FGN: Where can our readers find your products to purchase and keep up with your works? The best place online is our own website www.storiarts.com but we’re also found in many shops and libraries!

Tori: The Library of Congress Washington DC

Cafe Books in Canmore, Alberta Canada

Little Red Press Portland, OR

Crafty Wonderland Shop, Portland, OR

The San Diego Library Shop

The Historic Guthrie Theater Minneapolis, MN

Living Eden Red Hook, NY

Red Ribbon Edmonton, Alberta Canada

McNally Robinson Booksellers, Winnipeg Canada

Scout & Morgan Books in Cambridge, Minnesota

Central Library Los Angeles, CA

South Dakota Art Museum

Prairie Path Books, Wheaton, IL

 

Coming Very Soon:

The Kobuk Coffee, Anchorage, AL

The Bibelot Shops, St. Paul, MN

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, MA

Saturn Booksellers, Gaylord, MI

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