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Episode 13: Fusing Passion and Profession with Abby Cooper

Updated: Jan 19, 2022

We're back this week with a new episode about the business of creativity in the outdoor industry. Abby Cooper - professional photographer, writer, media strategist, and athlete - talks about goal setting, creativity, work/life balance, and turning your passion into your profession. Listen and leave a comment to let us know what you think of the podcast!

Follow Abby: @abbydells


Episode Transcript

Lisa: Hey, what's up, everybody? It's your host, Lisa Slagle from Wheelie Creative and this week on Outside by Design I am talking to Abby Cooper. She's a professional photographer, writer, media strategist and athlete supported by Arc'teryx, Smith, Karakoram, and G3.

I met Abby when she was contracted to teach our very very first Wheelhouse Workshop event. She was the one of the contracted photographers for the Snowbird Workshop to help get more cameras in the hands of women in action sports. And Abby is just a very very charismatic human being and she lives her life really mindfully with a ton of energy and positive vibes. I love talking to Abby and I think that comes through in our conversation. She is a creative powerhouse and just an all around good person. So I think there's a lot of takeaways about work-life balance and fusing your passion with your profession. Please enjoy.

Lisa: Hey, Abby, thanks for being here. Where are you recording from today? Tell us what you're doing.

Abby: I actually just got to my house in Whistler. I'm finally here. It's been a crazy winter. I've been gone... actually, let me rephrase that. I've only been home for like a week each month since maybe October, November. I've been traveling so much that I'm finally in Whistler. I'm here for a month and I'm so pumped because my backyard is beautiful. So I'm actually at home just doing all that life stuff now that I'm here, you know, playing catch-up.

Lisa: That is so awesome. The last time I saw you was in Salt Lake City for our photography workshop. Where else have you been since Salt Lake City in March?

Abby: Yeah. Okay. So actually after I saw you, after I got to wave goodbye and was dropped off at the airport, I flew to Vancouver. BC not Washington. Where my truck was parked and I completely switched gears. I kept all my camera gear packed, but I repacked all my other bags because I was doing resort photography and snowboarding when I was with you and I swapped it out for my backcountry gear in the park and fly parking lot. I took myself back to the airport on the shuttle and then I flew to northern BC where I hung out for like 10 days or two weeks or something like that. And then I also did a little road trip up to Alaska and then back. Yeah. So that was like a touchdown turnaround situation, which was fun. Just been a few of those.

But yeah, I went there, I've been back to BC since then - like out towards the Rockies. I’m trying to think. Oh, I just went to New York. That was pretty fun. I haven't been there before.

Lisa: What did you think?

Abby: A friend described it to me so well before I went, he's like, “being in New York is the closest that you'll feel to being in the mountains in a big city.” Which just sounds so weird, right? And I was like, okay, why, where's this coming from? This doesn't make any sense. He's like, “because you'll just feel completely alone, surrounded by stone, which is concrete” and I was like, that fits so well, because even though there's people everywhere you kind of feel lonely. It’s really interesting, I often seek out the mountains to find, you know, peace and clarity and I like to work out there and life is just simple out there. Right, but it's kind of cool to see all these people achieve that similar mindset despite being surrounded by chaos and thousands to millions of other people all the time. So kind of like a little self experiment really.

Lisa: That’s fascinating.

Abby: Yeah, have you been before?

Lisa: I have.

Abby: What do you think?

Lisa: I think you have to be, like, in the mindset of New York City and then it's awesome. You know, to know that you're just kind of shuffling along and you're there for the ride. But yeah, if you're expecting like a normal interaction with humanity like living where I live in Montana, it's so different.

Abby: Yeah agreed, it is a unique experience for sure. I'm really glad that people that live in New York do it though, because I couldn't do it and I'm really stoked that they're doing it. Because you know, they take care of finance and international business and a lot of things that I really need and value but I also don't want to do their job so. Thank you.

Lisa: Good mindset. So for the audience that may not know who you are. Can you just give us a bio or a highlight reel and tell us a little bit about yourself and what you're doing with life and just, yeah, who you are.

Abby: All right. Okay. I'm going to make this not a ramble. That's my goal. Okay. I'm a photographer. I've been doing that for 10 years now and I started doing some writing about six years ago. Actually my bachelor's in photography and then a minor and advertising but when I was going to school, I was just like I can't handle writing - that is just way too boring. I want to tell my story with photos. I don't want to tell it with words. And, turns out, I actually really like both so that was a fun realization, you know. I'm doing both of those things and bringing in the strategy side as well for some brands and it's all freelance work. So I’m kind of bopping around from mountain town to mountain town. Yeah working with friends, publications, athletes all that good stuff.

I'm very passionate about the outdoors. I do a lot of volunteering to share my passion because I just, I don't know, it just makes me so happy. I just want to share it with everybody. So I do some speaking events on behalf of Avalanche Canada. I also a Mountain Mentor which is a program that we have up here in like the Whistler-Vancouver region which helps girls build confidence going into the outdoors. And similar to that, but on an international scale I guess, is the She Jumps program. So I also do some volunteering with them mostly in a photographer capacity and then I develop some splitboarding social classes/clinics, workshops, speaking events, all that kind of stuff under the name of Split Social here in the Whistler area. Hopefully I will expand that over the next little bit because it's been really cool to kind of just unify that community. So basically everything I do is very intertwined, it all has that creative component. Visual exploration keeps me in the mountains and keeps me sharing it with people. So it's really hard to distinguish. What’s work and what's play. Most of my life is both, which... I enjoy the gray Zone. That's kind of where I live.

Lisa: Okay. So, The Gray Zone, that's awesome. Tell me more about Split Social. I've never heard of it.

Abby: Yeah for sure. So I kind of came up with this idea when I felt like I finally got my feet under myself splitboarding - actually when I finally kind of got confidence and was getting out there, starting to push myself. I had one of those moments on the skin track where you reflect on life, you know, if you're if you're past the point of like, of hating blisters or something like that, you get into the sweet mindset where you're just reflecting and thinking about the future. And I was in one of those sweet spot zones and I was like, how did I even get here? What was my journey?

And I started thinking about the first time that I went splitboarding and it was hilarious. I know that you splitboard too, Lisa, and I don't know if you can relate but the first time I put on a splitboard It was like putting on banana peels or something. Like, I was slipping all over the place. I didn't know what angles to go up things or thought I was invincible and then I thought I couldn’t go up anything. It was just a kind of crazy whirlwind of working with new gear that I had no idea how, but yet I had the confidence to go downhill. I don't know, was your first time splitboarding kind of a hot mess as well?

Lisa: Oh, yeah.

Abby: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, so so I was like, you know, it was... luckily I had some patient friends that just kind of helped me through it, and I actually I was living in Montana when I first started splitboarding just north of Whitefish. I had a friend that was a big cross country skier, and I used to go splitboarding when she would go cross country skiing, which was like all cardio. I know it sounds awful, but she was so lovely and it really helped me build my confidence just to have some time clocked on my splitboard.

You know, it's very exciting to see people splitboarding. It's also really exciting to see so many people getting in the backcountry getting after it, but I have a lot of avalanche training and just through volunteer positions and things like that I've seen a lot of things go sideways, unfortunately in the backcountry. And I also have this strong desire to make sure that everyone is educated properly, whether it is selfish reasons so that I trust the people I see in the backcountry or just the community as a whole. I don't know. I think it comes from a good place, but maybe, I'm just really selfish.I want everyone to be safe and I was like, hey, let's do them both. So I came up with this idea. Like let's do your specific AST… Avalanche Safety Training is how we abbreviate it in Canada. I think it's AIARE in the states, right?

Lisa: Yep.

Abby: Let's have a specific class that is just for splitboarders. I got lots of friends who are skiers. So no offense to skiers. But let's do just splitboarders. And in this class, not only learn avalanche safety, but like it's probably the first time a lot of people put on a splitboard. So let's teach them how to transition properly. Let's teach them how to do it efficiently, how to move... all those little tips that literally just take a half an hour to kind of go over. And it changes your world when someone tells you how to do something more efficiently on a splitboard. So that was sort of the starting ground and they helped develop a couple courses here in Whistler for that.

And yeah, a lot of guiding programs have actually adopted them, which is yeah. It's really sweet to see. And then some social events for splitborders, whether it's just photographers giving a slideshow or trip recaps or where to go specifically. area, but yeah, I've been doing that for three or four years now a couple events this season.

Lisa: That's cool.

Abby: Yeah random, but it's fun.

Lisa: Are you doing that pretty much exclusively in Canada for now?

Abby: Mostly actually in the Whistler area. I will be at Splitfest and Revelstoke this year doing some type of talk about splitboarding and with Avalanche Canada. I'm not exactly sure what that will look like. But yeah, mostly around here.

Lisa: That's awesome.

And with that let's kick it off to a commercial break.

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Lisa: So you are a master at blending your work and your life and your lifestyle with the things that make you happy like capturing content. So did that just always work out for you like that, or was there something that like magically clicked in your head one day that you could do what you loved for a living? Or how did that go for you?

Abby: Yeah, good question. I think everyone's got a unique story for how they ended up in this industry, right? Because it's not the path of least resistance. That's for sure. Okay so I got into University and I was pretty set on either doing geology or architecture. Because both architecture you got to create stuff, geology is ideally studying rocks and being in the mountains and those were kind of my two choices. And I think it was right before I went to University and my dad actually said to me well, why don't you study photography? They have a photography program at your school. And I had won a few local contests in Calgary with my photos at that time. I grew up in Calgary, Alberta.

And I kind of like snickered on the inside - I was like, that's not a real job. I can't be like a photographer that just plays in the mountains all the time. And my dad was like, yeah if you really wanted to be, you can make it a job. And my dad is an entrepreneur. He owns a bunch of different construction businesses in Calgary and I had kind of seen him start from working for other people to being successful at where he's at now and that really inspired me. And I think just a bit of stubbornness and just the right person believing in me helped me, you know, kind of get to where I am.

So yeah, that's a very brief version. But he believed in me. And and from there I started working when I was in university as a photographer and seeking out clients. I went to University in the states and I started working with Grand Targhee doing some photo shoots for events and things like that. And when I'd come home to Calgary in the summers, I would then start working with ski resorts up here, networking and I don't know. I kind of just watched how the how the guys that were in the industry at the time networked and got to where they were and I was like, okay, so it's very bro, and I need to be friends with these people. But I also have to do quality work and I don't know… just always kind of trying to pick up on the pieces and figure out how everyone else was doing it and then you get to a certain point where you're like, oh. Now one really knows what they're doing. They just kind of know what they're good at. And that this industry collects awesome human beings, so they’re friends. Yeah, and I think that's where I'm at now.

I don't know. How would you describe the outdoor industry? It's quirky, but the best.

Lisa: Yeah, and it's very very passion-driven. So there's a lot of different opinions and then opinions lead to attitude and so... I kind of like all the polarization and all the... I don't know, like I love how all the snowboarders wear their little black beanies and it's like, I love how you can like identify, that person is identifying with that culture. And then I love the outliers to that that are still ripping around on snowboards and just totally unique to themselves.

Abby: Yeah agreed well said. I don't know if anyone's asked you on the podcast. So how did you get to where you are?

Lisa: Well, you'll actually like this, it’s a weird fun fact I don't talk about much is when I went to college I was studying photography and I was almost completely through my degree and then my camera got stolen at a party. Because I didn't have enough money at that time, because I was like 19 or 20, I didn't have any money to replace it. And so I still had a laptop. So I was like, oh, I guess I can switch to graphic design and still get a degree.

Abby: Oh my goodness.

Lisa: And so that's how I ended up with a graphic design degree.

Abby: Wow. Well, you kind of ended up with like a two-for-one because I've seen your photos and they're amazing and I've seen your graphic design work and it's also great. So maybe, you know, as horrible as that probably was at the time to have your camera stolen as a student and be like, okay, cool, just changed my whole life now. Thanks random person that stole my camera. But look at you now and you have way more pieces to the puzzle, right? It kind of worked out.

Lisa: But yeah, so that was how, and then I moved across to Crested Butte and I was snowboarding all day and I was working at night and doing graphic design and grew a business that way but it would really was all about snowboarding for me.

Abby: Nice. Yeah, definitely a priority.

Lisa: Yeah, I think, you know, one thing I really admire about the career and life that you've built for yourself is you are always having fun. But you have a tremendously good work ethic.

Abby: Thank you. That is a huge compliment. Thank you.

Lisa: Yeah, and I think that that translates so well into the way that you are. You know this content creator but also on the athlete ambassador side, like it takes such a good work ethic and so much physical strength to get into these locations. What do you think of that? Do you attribute that to just liking a bit of hard work?

Abby: Yeah. I might be, you know, a sucker for Type 2 fun as they call it. Yes. I do, I do like it. I don't know exactly where to comment on my like athlete and ambassador side of it, but I think it's complementary right? Because in the sense, I might not be skiing the gnarliest lines that of you know, the athletes that I'm taking photos of are skiing, but it does take definitely some discipline and training experience to get to those places. With that being said, it seems as though hybrid is just, it's such a trendy... like it's a buzzword. Everyone wants to be a hybrid of something, right? Because I don't know if it's for job security or just means you have more skills or whatever it might be but... you’re an ambassador and something else, so you’re a hybrid. Or you're a writer and a photographer. So you’re a hybrid. And I think that what I do, just being out there with all these athletes, I look like a hybrid because I'm usually there with another media person right? I'm usually there with a media second shooter or a videographer or everyone's got GoPros and good quality phones these days so there's just there's so much content that comes out. And I guess it's been a cool piece to see come to life because I feel like my story from behind the lens is kind of being told now. Just because of that, I get captured too sometimes right there's other people around and that's kind of led to me receiving more spotlight than I think I would normally ever seek out as just an individual but it's been really fun. And it also means that when I'm in really cool places, I can like ah, I'm going to save that line for myself. So yeah, it's pretty fun. I enjoy being a hybrid.

Lisa: Yeah, what's the, I guess, most difficult like, earliest morning, most difficult adventure that you've had to go on for photography or for work?

Abby: Mmm. Honestly, I've probably already forgotten the hard parts about it. I'm amazing at forgetting the hard parts. We are as humans, right? What's that… there's like an endorphin that helps you forget the bad times and only remember the good parts are. I can't remember what it's called, but I think I have a lot of that because I cut that out a lot. But you know, what my weakness is, I get black toes really easily. And it actually turns into such a big mental game of just the pain. Why do toes hurt so much? They're so small. I can't understand. But those are probably some of my worst worst days are just when I have black toes slamming around boots all day and you're like, okay great. Just another 30 kilometers to go here. No big deal. My backpack is 70 pounds, you know, you really got to find that sweet spot mentally to get through it, but I don't know. I'm kind of drawing a blank on on the hardest day ever.

It's not unheard of to have... let's see, you know, like a three or four a.m. start with a really heavy backpack and maybe fall through a creek or something. I don't know. I've lost crampons on really slippery icy slopes before and that really really sucks because then you're just down to one crampon and maybe an ice axe or something and that's sketchy.

Lisa: Yeah, just limping along.

Abby: Yeah. Yeah, those are definitely not fond memories. But you know, I learned I could do it, which is cool. I'm still here.

Lisa: You're one of the. You're another people that you like you go have a miserable day, but you're doing it for fun. And then you get back to the truck and you're like, oh that was so awesome and just immediately forget all that difficult parts?

Abby: Totally. Like on the truck ride back, you're like well, when should we do that again? And for the first like five hours I’m like why am I even doing this?

Two summers ago? I usually snowboard all year long whether it's for personal or for a work assignment or something. I do love it. You've pinpointed me for sure. And a really cool place up here. It's called Sterk Lake and to get there you have to drive... I think it's like 8, maybe more 10k of forest service road and then... sorry kilometers, not... does K make sense? 5K 10K?

Lisa: Yeah, yeah.

Abby: Okay, drive a ways on a forest service road and then you have to get in a canoe or a paddleboard or something. We took canoes and kayaks. Just cause we had skis with us. This was in August. It was like 35 degrees. So it's probably like high 90s early 100s for you guys in the states and it’s so hot and then it's a scramble. You canoe across this massive, massive lake. With all your gear and then you scramble up this mountain and you climb over the saddle. There's like little ropes on the trails like pull yourself up. It’s kind of a goat path, it’s not used very often and then we get up there and scramble up to like another peak and skied down and it was the best day ever but man - on the way up, in the heat and those rocks just reflecting on you and heavy pack, I was like, “oh I could just be a normal person. I could be at the lake right now with my friends may be laying on a floaty or something. What am I doing?”

But then we went snowboarding in August and we got some cool photos and I was able to bring my dog and yeah, you know, I don't know. It's a story, right? I don't remember that one time when I was floating on the lake with friends, like you know, you do that a bunch of times in the summer. And yeah, you don't really remember, those are kind of just another nice day. But I like the memories of those quirky adventures.

Lisa: That’s hilarious. I like that too.

Abby: Yeah. Do you have any planned this summer?

Lisa: Well yesterday I fell in a creek at the very beginning of our day, mountain biking, and like I slipped…. I say creek, it was like a river. I slipped and I landed like, I went over, landed on my back and literally everything I was wearing was soaked. And then you know, that's like the start of the day and then it just got more miserable from there.

Abby: No!

Lisa: Oh, yeah, and then I crashed on the way down and I have this huge chunk of skin missing out of my thigh today and you know, but I was like, “oh that was a really good day.” Oh, that was nice. It’s just like, why?

Abby: Oh, you get it, then, you totally get it. I think a lot of us do in this industry, right? Because yeah. I mean, that's why we we’re in the industry. If we only wanted to vacation in this industry, we would just you know, have a normal job and then just do this stuff on the weekends. We like to suffer. So we do it 24/7.

Lisa: And now time for another commercial break.

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Lisa: So what what kind of writing projects do you like to do?

Abby: And this has been a work in progress to figure that out exactly. I like a variety of them, but I'm finding that I really like to tell a story... that sounds a little redundant doesn't it? I guess in the skill of writing is that brand copy is not my first choice of writing. I really like when I can share an experience that I've either learned something from or even if it's not my own experience per say, someone that I've interviewed or met along the way and kind of talk about how they got there. I don't know, anyone that's made a difference, I want to tell their story or any time when I've had a big self-realization of maybe I shouldn't do this or maybe I need more of that. You know, those “aha” moments whether mine or someone else's I guess is how I sum that up. Sorry that wasn't a beautiful answer to that question. I was kind of working through that as I talk today loud.

Lisa: Well you have a very genuine way of teaching and giving back and you know, elevating others. So what would you say is some advice you would give to somebody who wants to get into the creative side of the outdoor industry whether it's writing or photography? What like, what would you tell somebody?

Abby: I would say that the creativity process starts in making the career happen, if that makes any kind of sense. There's no, you know, if you're if you're working in a very corporate world, you can kind of move up the ladders, you know, the common saying that you hear, right. Start entry-level, mid-level, work on some resume building classes or components and then apply for the next level. And our industry doesn't really work like that and especially freelance life in general. There's no written book on it. I think it's a lot about finding mentors and mentors not in someone that you see and it's like, I want to be them I want to do what they're doing. Because then they probably don't really want to mentor you to be honest. They don’t want to give their job away. Right? But I think a great way to do it is, you know, I really admire, kind of weighing out your strengths and weaknesses and be like, I really admire how that person handles themselves when it comes to business. Even if they’re a real estate agent or you know, something completely unrelated to the outdoor industry. And then maybe someone has a really beautiful photography style and you want to learn more about their process and and take it to a different industry or put a twist on it.

And that's what I mean by getting creative. It's like where do you want to go and how can you reach out build your own network to get you there? Because I know that especially you own an agency, right, you hire a lot of different contractors and creatives and everyone needs to stand out right. As soon as a couple people are kind of the same, it's like well, why do you choose one over the other it gets hard to choose and so I think you have to remember to be creative with your own personal brand and identity and bringing in key components. You know, working on what you're not strong at, really developing those skills and seeking out opportunities to make them stronger and then recognizing your skills on the flip side of that, right? Kind of playing off of those and and showcasing them.

Lisa: Yeah.

Abby: What about you, you hire these people? What do you think, what sets people like me you compared to other photographers and writers apart to you? What do you look for?

Lisa: I look for dependability. Positively, the number one, dependability, you know, because I have to... as well as a brand when they hire a freelancer or they hire an agency is like, they're trusting you to get it done. So then if we have to contract out, certain photographers or something then obviously, I need somebody who's dependable. And then just somebody who has a strong portfolio and kind of like stands for something. So I can be like, oh, if I want really really strong interior shots that are kind of editorial, I know I can hire this photographer. Or if I want really beautiful landscapes, I know I can hire this photographer and just kind of like being versatile but also kind of standing for something as well.

Abby: Totally. Yeah, and I think that's where that personal brand comes in, right? Knowing what you excel at and what you stand for.

Lisa: Yeah, it’s interesting how sometimes like creatives get a bad rap like, oh, well that person's creative like automatically they're not going to be dependable. Like all the bad stereotypes that go along with like creatives, like it's a tattoo parlor or something. So I think to really, really make it in this industry, you have to be the complete opposite of that stereotype and be a little bit type A, even though it's like if you're going to be a photographer and go with the flow and capture things that are happening naturally, you still have to be really driven and meticulous and committed so.

Abby: Totally.

Lisa: Yeah, but still fun. I think it's like the best career you have.

Abby: I agree. I'm a little biased but I have to agree.

Lisa: Yeah, and then just you know, like having clarity on where you want to be as a human being. I always try to give myself three year goals because five-year goals seem too hard, too daunting.

Abby: Yeah.

Lisa: So I like to do three year goals.

Abby: Yeah. Yeah. That's a really good point I have... I don't know what it was. Growing up, the word goals was just like so ugly. I hated it. When you know, you're in school and maybe your teacher would be like, okay, what kind of goals do you want to work on? And you’d be like, “what? I don't want to do that. That's like a laundry list of like chores or something.” I don't know, but now I'm addicted to making goals. They’re so much fun. And so exciting, especially if they are, like, you know a yearly or even like six months, three years. Yeah. It's so fun. It's kind of reminded me to experiment, you know. In life, we kind of choose a career path and we just keep rollin with it. It's like we took one big chance this one time in a career that we wanted to pursue and then that's it. We just stick with it and it's like no, no, no, no. No, there's still so much personal growth to be had and so many experiments to do and industries to try and I think that's a huge part of it.

So I've been trying to shape some of just my personal goals on trying new things - whether that's like a new sport or traveling to a new place or maybe a new business avenue to see if it's complementary to what I have going on, but it's you know, it's fun. And without those little sub goals, I guess, like those smaller term goals, you kind of forget about it because you're right. Big goals are super daunting, right? Like five years, that seems like you don't have to do anything. It's like when people apply for mortgages, they cant afford, right? They’re like woah, that's 30 years away from now? I don't even, that's not even a real number. Like it's kind of the same thing. If I set a five year goal, I'm like, it's not even real number. I'll get to that in like two more years. I'm busy living right now. But those little ones hold you accountable for constant change, which is, I think, that's where you keep developing yourself, you know, is kind of that constant change.

Lisa: Yeah. Absolutely. What, would you like to share one of your goals? Or something you’re kind of toying with right now?

Abby: Yeah, I guess so. I have a couple actually, what do I want to share? Okay, I'll just give a tiny bit of insight to to what I have on my plate for the next six months, I guess, and three personal kind of goals that I'm working on. So my boyfriend bought a boat, like 19 feet long boat and it's good to go in the ocean. Like deep haul, and so we're going to do some exploring out here on the Sunshine Coast. And so I'm really excited for that, but I don't know anything about the ocean! And so I can navigate in like a whiteout in the mountains and the Alpine but put me in the ocean and I'm like, where's land? I don't know! And so I am kind of figuring out what are the right steps. What kind of classes do I need to take first for when we venture out like past the coastline. Maybe wanted to do a crossing to some of the islands that are further off the coast of BC. And I want to be useful. I like being an equal part in adventures. It really bugs me if things are kind of out of my control and I don't know why decisions are being made. You know, it kind of sucks when you can't be included in that process. Not that he doesn't include me. I’m just saying that as a blanket statement, but I want to bring something to the table. So I'm kind of working on water and navigation courses is something I'm thinking about.

Again, I’m thinking about maybe being able to teach avalanche safety courses. So getting certified to be able to teach that as well. I feel like that's really complementary to my more personal projects with Split Social and speaking on behalf of Avalanche Canada and things like that, to also be able to show people the ropes personally and into some their courses. And then the last one is more of a work focus. I produce all the time, like a service, right, photography. And writing is, even though it's creative and you turn over finished work, it's still a service. It's not so much tangible.

And so I'm kind of toying with the thought of maybe producing something more physical and I don't know exactly what that looks like yet. But even if it's just a bit of an experiment, I'm curious to see what it like what it's like to you know, create something with my hands and sell that and see how it goes. Yeah, I don't know. I got an experiment. Maybe I'll make like 10 and I'll just not going to tell you what it is yet because that's still kind of working a work in progress. But yeah, maybe I make 10 and I'm like, oh, yeah, I don't really like this at all, or maybe I love it and it's something that I kind of keep on the side. I'm going to try it.

Lisa: That is really awesome.

Abby: So that's what I have going on. What do you have going on?

Lisa: That's hilarious. So because you know, I own an agency. So what started as me doing a lot of the creative work is now me managing the creative work or me not even working on creative work and now I do finances and like CEO kind of stuff. So, you know, just to make sure my soul is happy, I'm working on doing a lot of my own personal artwork.

Abby: What kind of artwork?

Lisa: And then I want to have a show. Um, I love to paint. Yeah, and I've never had a show before because it's like Fine Art not not commercial work, but I want to do a lot of painting this year because I love painting and then I want to just do a lot of photography for myself and my friends and not work related at all. So I'm working on building creativity as a lifestyle back into my personal life which is pretty fun.

Yes. Oh, that sounds so cool. Okay. What what are you painting on what medium?

Lisa: Oh, I love to paint on found objects. Because you can slap a coat of Jesso on anything and it becomes archivally stable. So I like to paint on skateboard decks or like old, old snowboard decks. I have a shed full of like old snowboard decks that I'm working on.

Abby: Oh my goodness when you run out, let me know. I've got some for you.

Lisa: Yeah, and I just love, you know, I love really hard surfaces. Like old crappy wood like skateboards and snowboards and I don't like really soft canvasses.

Abby: Well, I look forward to seeing it. I mean if you're down, I'd love to see some progress on the channels and stuff. I love keeping up to date on those things.

Lisa: Yeah, so that's a big one, but I don't know. Yeah, is there anything else that I haven't asked you, any projects you're stoked on right now or any upcoming projects that you're into or brands that are doing cool things?

Abby: Oh man. So many. Where do I take that question? I could take it anywhere. Okay. Well, let me keep it simple. What am I most excited about? Currently, I'm just, I'm most excited to be in Whistler. I don’t know if you’re super familiar with Whistler, but it's not necessarily the most easy place to live just as far as like accommodation and travel and things like that. It’s the raddest backyard and a really cool community and I am so pumped to finally be here for a while and kind of connect with all the reasons why I moved out here in the first place.

So. That's currently, but then as far as work goes... I have been doing so much work on assignment lately where I, you know, I'm kind of working with a brand or publication or something and be like, okay you need this. I need this. We should go here. This is where the snow, is or whatever it might be that we're looking for and kind of this... before you go, it's kind of like a package deal of what's coming out of it. And you made the whole process together. And so I've done a lot of that and I love it, but I kind of want to try keeping it a little bit more loose.

So I've decided that in the fall. I am going to go to Nepal and I'm going to shoot a ton and maybe I'm going to work with some brands and take some product over there and shoot some catalog-style stuff, but keep it just a little bit looser and feel a little bit more inspired. Take some more time to develop the photos instead of sort of racing a tight timeline to complete a shoot and then move on to the next thing so, I don't know, maybe I guess like a photography vacation almost is kind of what I'm excited for. Just to let the photos organically take shape. I don't know. I don't know. Does that make sense?

Lisa: It does. It sounds really really wonderful and magical.

Abby: Yeah, I'm really excited about it. So just a different way of kind of producing the same thing but going into it with a little bit different mindset. Yeah, that's kind of what I'm excited for.

Lisa: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for being on the podcast and you're just a magical person.

Abby: Back at you. I'm so excited, hopefully to hear about some more workshops from you guys in the future cause I had so much fun at the last one. And yeah, maybe we'll work together again soon because I had a great time... both times, I guess. We did that other project right after we first met each other. We had a quick little like collab on a on a photo shoot for a client of yours, and that was pretty fun, too. So yeah, but I can't wait to see her art as it develops and... yeah, thanks so much for sharing what you're excited about. You just kind of stoked my fire to hear that you're going to make something tangible to as a self, you know, a personal project.

Lisa: Personal. Yeah, exactly.

You can follow Abby on Instagram. She's @AbbyDells. That's where you can mostly find her. She's a pretty solid gram-er. Her stories are amazing. It looks like she's always having fun in the Canadian Backcountry, give her a follow.

Hey, thanks so much for tuning in. If you're curious what we're going to be putting out next Thursday, it is our conversation with Janette Sherman. She is the marketing manager for Yeti Cycles and Janette is awesome and hilarious and smart. So tune in next week, and here's a preview.

Janette: I don't come, you know, I don't come in every day to my job thinking like, “how am I gonna progress women's cycling.” Which, you know, like there are times, there are certain days where yeah, I do think that but most days I come in here and it’s like, how am I going to further the brand? How am I going to make, you know cycling and mountain biking approachable, you know for everybody? How am I going to be the best at what I do? And then luckily, I think that because of that, I can then bring, you know, hopefully women into the sport and be a role model in that regard.

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