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Interview Series: Creative Couples: Kim Bakke and Peter Brown

This installment is a special one for me. Kim and I have been friends for many years. I've known her since I was twenty, although we didn't become close until my mid-thirties when our close friendship sparked simply from one of us randomly reaching out to see how the other was doing. My family and I had just moved and left everyone and everything behind, and without making this all about me, it was a good move, but it would only be the first of many significant life changes that Kim and I would navigate together as she, too, was on a similar path of change and reclaiming herself. Some of these changes were heartbreaking, albeit necessary, and there were times when both of us wondered what the future had in store. Back then I don't think you could have convinced either one of us that only a matter of years later Kim would have her own thriving floral design business A Cottage Gardener and I would be a published author. We also never really thought we could have the kind of love we hoped for, but here we are now, each with our respective creative partners. Peter is kind, intelligent and an incredible architecture design advocate and I couldn't be happier for them both. Welcome Kim and Peter. <3

We all love a good love story. Tell us the moment you each knew you were in love.

Peter: For me, it was our first phone conversation, the timbre of her laugh - it resonated inside. I even had a drink afterwards (and I rarely drink) because I knew I had met my match.

Kim: There was no 'moment' for me. I am cautious by nature so it took time for me to trust Peter. There are many beautiful, romantic memories I have of our early days that drew me closer to that mark but I think I knew I had fallen in love with him when I realized the first thing I wanted to do every morning was reach for my phone to read the song he had sent me or bit of lyric or poem.

Peter: It worked.

Liz Gilbert said she “married” her writing at 16, and many people think it’s not possible to have two artists in the house. In the beginning, were you of the mind that two creatives would live well together or the opposite?

Peter: For me, there is a comfort in knowing we're both in chaotic creative fields. While we use different “paint”, the processes, devotion and intensity are similar. I don’t need to apologize for long hours because there is always an ebb and flow.

Kim: I did wonder which one of us was going to be forced to be the organized one. ;-) Other than that, I thought it would be wonderful to be with someone who got the creative process. And it has.

Share a little bit about your work—books, music, movies, art—what do each of you do?

Peter: I am a child trapped in a middle aged body. People hire me to help them describe a potential future, to manage change and help them make their environments a better place.

Change is chaotic; I’m a guide through the chaos.

Last Book: Goodnight Moon, Margaret Wise Brown

Last Movie: The French Dispatch, written, directed, and produced by Wes Anderson

Last Listen: Elliot Smith - Elliot Smith, c.1995

Kim: I am an event floral designer

(Is she ever?)

Photo by Hope Helmuth Photography

What brought you to these outlets/jobs?

Peter: I like to design and make things.

Kim: I had a small garden design business and one of my clients asked me to do the flowers for her daughter’s wedding. It took some convincing but I finally agreed, got some serious mentoring and fell in love with the whole process. No looking back.

Do you ever collaborate on projects? Tell us a little bit about that process.

Peter: We are so immersed in each of our fields, cross pollination inevitably occurs. The boundaries between our personal and professional life are porous so the exchange of ideas is ongoing and constant.

Kim: Peter’s knowledge of structure and mechanics helps me immeasurably. Hanging crazy florals from crazy spaces is common in my field and the ‘how to’s’ give me terrible anxiety. Peter is wonderful at designing safe and amazing structures for me. Plus he lifts heavy things.

Creative work doesn’t normally lend itself to a regular routine like punching a time clock. Describe your method for completing projects while also living regular life, raising kids, if applicable, or working a day job. How do you manage your time together?

Peter: Both of us are empty-nesters, we can be selfish with our time. It makes negotiating schedules a lot easier, fewer moving parts. I recommend it.

Kim: Who said anything about a regular life? Thankfully, we don’t have any kids at home to worry about so we can have odd hours without guilt. Those hours can be an issue of finding time to be together so we take turns coming up with something fun to do each week. It’s been really great.

How do you support each other’s work?

Peter: I support Kim by listening, engaging, cooking and lifting heavy things.

Kim: I would say the same (minus the heavy lifting) and add encouraging Peter to take breaks - do something he enjoys.

We all have challenges in our relationships and having the same job can present its own hurdles. What would you say you have to work on the most as a creative couple, in particular?

Kim: I think our biggest challenge has been making time to be together, face to face, and doing things unrelated to our jobs.

Peter: Ditto.

And on the other side of things, how does both of you being artists feed or fuel your relationship?

Peter: we like the same things: we like to go to museums and concerts, we enjoy music and art. We have some difference in our taste when it comes to Netflix but we work it out.

Kim: Peter's knowledge of music and art and the history of both is a constant source of wonder and joy to me. All of it stretches me artistically.

And a few fun ones...

What fictional character does your partner most resemble?

Peter: Pippi Longstocking’s 1/2 sister, Hippie Nosocks .

Kim: Edward Fairfax Rochester

If your partner and their work ethic/process was an animal, what animal would they be?

Peter: A worker bee disguised as a butterfly.

Kim: An introspective beaver

Describe your dream working space as a couple.

Peter: We’re building it.

Kim: Just a [little love] note. Since the pandemic, Peter has been primarily been working from home. This has been a game changer - we grab a kiss in the hallway, have a quick cup of coffee together, pop in on each other to share something cool we just read or worked on or saw.

It’s wonderful.

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