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Work / International Women's Day

Gung-ho women: Visual Editions discuss sisterhood and motherhood in creativity

Publishers Visual Editions are a creative studio and joint personality that encompass rigour. It’s founders, Anna Gerber and Britt Iversen didn’t exactly form under the usual pretence of creatively led duos. Anna was a lecturer at the Royal College of Art, Britt worked in advertising at Mother, but the pair didn’t meet in a professional capacity, they met through their children. “Our kids went to quite an uptight nursery, lots of professional parents, we stuck out like sore thumbs,” they explain. From there, a mutual respect for each other grew. “We went out for dinner one night and were just talking how friends talk,” says Anna. “We realised we were so sick of talking and not doing. Our backgrounds were similar, we were not making, not testing, not reaching audiences. That was the beginning nugget of ‘wouldn’t it be cool if we published books that were only like this?’, and it just got out of control.”

Their partnership is one that embodies sisterhood, discussion and excitement. They lean on each other, they are different personally and professionally, which collectively makes them stronger. “Part of the beauty of us being a pair, is also because we’re women,” explains Britt. “We work very well together as a sisterhood, but also because we need to double up sometimes, in certain conversations and situations. There is no doubt that as a creative female partnership we do more than we would on our own. Part of that is because we have different skill sets, but a huge part of it is that we give each other courage.” This courage has allowed Anna and Britt to learn which projects are appropriate for them to embark upon. “We know a project is right when we walk that very thin line of feeling out of our depth, terrified, and totally excited. To walk that balance, you need the right support in place, that is what we give each other as a partnership and a brand. That and a feeling of fuck it, fuck it lets do it, let’s kick some arse. We are more gung-ho with that as women.”

The support that Anna and Britt provide one another and their clients is a nurturing attribute they link to being mothers. “It sounds like such a cliche but becoming a mother for lots of women can be seen as a limitation, from a practical point of view. For us, we find it very fruitful in terms of making, it extenuates the idea that you want to do something worthwhile with your life. This is both to be a role model to your kids, and to prove to yourself that you can be creative and have kids. Having children has brought us opportunities because we’ve been forced to do things differently.”

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Of course being a mother, goes hand in hand with being a woman, and a female way of approaching projects, commissioning and employing individuals is part of Anna and Britt’s process. “It is important to say that we choose to work with people we love working with, whether that is men or women. By definition we don’t tend to work with any blokes blokes, because we don’t enjoy it. It’s about having respect for the creative process and a co-ownership for the project when it is released. Making sure everyone feels involved in a project, that’s part of being a woman, you allow joint ownership, not old fashioned egotistical chest beating.” In this respect Anna and Britt explain that they tend to “not openly think about gender equality, more looking for people who take their craft seriously, and a passion for what they’re doing, they’re self-starters, they take the initiative to do stuff, that’s what we look for. Everyone we work with is super talented, which comes in many different shapes and sizes”.

A sincere and respectful approach is also how Anna and Britt create connections with clients. “We start with a relationship more than anything, we think of someone who we would love to work with and then a design agency to matchmake with…then you just start flirting with each other in a very female way,” explain the pair. “By building that relationship, we get an understanding of who they are, what they need, what their attraction is to us, and what we need from them. It’s a constant dialogue, a nurturing of that relationship which allows it to last longer.”

That said, Anna elaborates that it is not just a rosy picture of a business, “we love every project genuinely but we have come up against some very difficult situations, that probably have been more difficult with men involved, but we’ve dealt with it in our way,” she tells It’s Nice That. “There is a feminine way of dealing with things and that is okay. We have kicked butt in those scenarios but not in a leaning in way, but in a unique way that represents our partnership, but also in being creative women.”

Within the larger conversation of the gender gap that sits within the creative industry Anna and Britt symbolise the strength and receptivity of female creativity. For Anna and Britt women they admire are those, “who are comfortable in their own skin, smart thinkers, who aren’t defined by gender, and in no way are they criticised by a bloke because of his gender”. Their work and their personalities encourage projects that shouldn’t be completed “because you are a woman or a man, it should never be gender first. It’s just got to be great, otherwise it’s an empty conversation about gender”.

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