We couldn't be more excited to launch our first-ever painted leather collection this week. The bags, which we partnered with Dallas-based artists from Yeti & the Beast to transform into wearable works of art, are even more stunning in person as they are on our new arrivals page. To celebrate the completion of this limited edition collection (which, represents over 250 hours of careful painting), we are going behind the scenes of the Yeti & the Beast studio and talking to founders Jayme and Allie about the power of art to create change in the world. 

Yeti & the Beast is such a unique name. Is there a story there?
Yeti & the Beast, or Y&B for short, has been a name we've been holding on to since we were roommates in college. We used to live in a wild Victorian-era home in college, filled with psychedelic art and animals living in the walls. We ended up finding a kitten with giant paws abandoned under our house and we named him Yeti. He's sweet, independent and fierce—characteristics that we try to uphold in our brand and business.

You're based in Dallas. What do you love about living and creating art-based experiences there? Where do you find inspiration?
Dallas is truly a melting pot in Texas, and is getting more hip by the day. There are so many independent artists popping up too, and we've been lucky enough to meet and work with some super talented folks—specifically in the advertising and wedding industries. It's a community that's so encouraging and always down to try something crazy and new. We love Dallas for many reasons though we tend to get our inspiration from travel—meeting people and learning from them and places we encounter. Between travels, we make trips to galleries and art museums throughout the Metroplex for added inspiration.

This painted leather project is so different from anything we've ever done at FEED, and we couldn't love it more. What about "different" inspires you as artists and designers?
The south tends to be pretty traditional—frilly is often synonymous with feminine—and we just aren't. We like bugs and reptiles; we like things that are handmade and imperfect; we don't mind getting dirty or breaking tradition. We've always done things differently, for better or for worse. We often search for clients that march to the beat of their own drums and have stories they want to tell rather than trends they want to follow. Working with and meeting people like that inspires us in our work.

We were so excited to hand over some of our most loved styles for you to transform into wearable works of art. Let’s talk about the design process leading up to the actual painting of the bags. What did that look like? 
We were inspired by the layered, free-flowing nature of the art from communities that FEED serves, so we researched varied patterns and prints to familiarize ourselves with a range of creative directions. Then we got together, broke out our prismacolors and started doodling our own designs inspired by fluid use of line and layering. We drew up stylized natural elements like ginkgo leaves, florals, and patterns of foliage, then blended them with long, flowing lines and a mix of muted and saturated colors. We then took our designs and scanned them into the computer, where we experimented with how our designs interacted with the form of bags through scale and placement.

And then once you actually sit down to paint, what is that process? How long does it take to paint each bag?
We begin our process by loosely sketching out the design onto the bag with chalk as a temporary guide for scale. Then we grab our largest brushes and start painting the large blocks of color first, followed by the smaller details. We finish with our finest brushes to outline the shapes of color to create a bold, crisp pattern. It's difficult to nail down exactly how long each bag takes, since the size and patterns vary so much. Broadly speaking, it takes us about two to four hours per bag, but we also work on several bags at a time, which allows us to keep painting while we wait for layers of paint to dry. The paisley designs on the black bags take the longest to lay out since the design is so interconnected, while the ginkgo designs on the russet bags take the longest to paint since there are several layers involved. We enjoy the process—painting is very meditative!

Do you each have a favorite piece in the collection?
We love all the bags—especially with the super soft leather! 
Allie: My favorite bag is the black Harriet tote, since it's large enough for a laptop and everything else I tend to schlep around the city— and it's super chic! I wear a lot of black, so the pop of color adds a bit of fun to my outfit. 
Jayme: My favorite is the Rosa Clutch in black. I like the simplicity of it, and the way the color floods the back of the bag for a whole new look. It's like two bags in one!