We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashlie Dance & Chandler Lohner and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ashlie Dance & Chandler Lohner, why did you pursue a creative career?
In some ways, it never crossed our minds to not pursue a creative career. We both spent our entire childhood practicing art in some form — whether it was dance classes, piano lessons, sketch pads, musical theater camp…the list goes on. Our mom is an interior designer and violinist, so when we traveled as a family we went to every museum and every cathedral. Every opportunity to see art or witness a bit of human creativity was explored (and then often analyzed, discussed, and appreciated.)

So by the time we were at the age to start making career decisions — a moment that happened a decade apart from each other due to our age gap — we were both so accustomed to art and creativity being part of our every day lives, it seemed impossible to have a fulfilling life without keeping creativity at the center. It’s a type of deep satisfaction and joy to craft something that you think is beautiful and fun and detailed and meaningful no matter the medium. So we pursue that feeling.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Volk is a letterpress and graphic design studio that makes “playful things for playful people.” Whether that’s a dream wedding suite, a branding project, or a birthday card, we started our business because we choose to center play and creativity in our creations. Having a sister as a business partner is certainly helpful for centering joy — even when it gets tough.

Starting a business has, of course, not been easy. The entire thing feels like puzzling and problem solving. We’ve learned that when issues arise, the business is driven to new solutions, so we keep ourselves from stressing and simply start solving — keep ourselves in work mode instead of wallowing in the failure. This is our first go at entrepreneurship, so we’re a big fan of trial and error. And when we hit a flow that works, we know.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
First, I would take them to Torchy’s Tacos for a breakfast taco or two. (It’s not a breakfast food, but their queso is world class.) Then we’d head Dallas Museum of Art to wander through the exhibits and swing by QuikTrip for a Diet Coke. We’d make a stop at On the Lamb Yarn Shoppe in Grapevine to buy some gorgeous skeins of yarn. For dinner, we’d go to Urban Tadka for delicious Indian food. And last but not least, we’d migrate down to Paschal Bar in Denton, which is a beautiful speakeasy with live jazz music.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Shoutout and big big gratitude to Linda Reynolds and Rob Buchert, two of my (Chandler’s) design professors at university. Linda was really interested in analog processes in a digital design world and encouraged us students to explore that. I was in a graphic design program, and a lot of design begins, middles, and ends on a screen. For an entire semester, Linda literally wouldn’t let us start a single design process on screen. We could sew, paint, collage, letterpress, knit…but we weren’t allowed to touch the computer until we scanned in a final product.

She really taught me how to combine this digital design world I loved with a physical world I was discovering. It opened up a whole new avenue of creativity to me — one that combined all of the creative capabilities of a computer with a tactile product. Creating only with your hands is practicing flourishing under creative limitations, and I owe that skillset to Linda.

Rob was my letterpress professor. His love for paper and printing is so contagious, and I owe so much of what I know about these traditional printing techniques to him. Beyond this, they were both such generous, encouraging, and kind teachers, which is such a gift to a young student with big dreams.

Website: www.wearevolk.com

Instagram: @we.are.volk

Other: Pinterest: @wearevolk

Image Credits
Momoko Fritz

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