Brian Andreas (2004)
Iowa City, Iowa
The Storypeople collection now includes nine books incorporating drawings and writings; color prints of his drawings and short stories along; and mixed-media sculptures incorporating salvaged wood in deliberately crude shapes, bright colors, hand drawings (especially faces) and rubber-stamped imprints of the authors writings.
In 1994, Andreas formed a company, Storypeople to distribute his work worldwide and in 2012 he founded tumblecloud.com, a collaborative digital storytelling platform.
Andreas was born in 1956 in Iowa City and grew up in Chicago, Illinois. He graduated from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, in 1979 with a BA in Theater and English. He went on to receive his MFA in Fiber and Mixed Media in 1992 from the John F. Kennedy University in Orinda, California, where he focused on Fiber, with an emphasis on story as the fiber of human community. It was during 1992-1993, in conjunction with the Graduate School of Arts and Consciousness at JFK University, that he coordinated an early Internet experiment in collaborative storytelling called the Hall of Whispers.
Hall of Whispers
Andreas set out to ask people to share stories about their experience of being alive, using the Internet of the early 1990s. Of this experiment, he wrote:
"Hall of Whispers takes its name from an ancient Babylonian myth of a specially constructed room in one of the ziggurats (stepped pyramids), in which the walls were so highly polished that a whisper would stay alive forever. I have an image of the electronic networks whispering ceaselessly with the voices of our times.
"The form of the project is deceptively simple . . . to create a situation . . . where we could join each other around a technological campfire . . . to create a virtual community using an ancient fundamental of community-making: shared stories . . . a council model for understanding our world . . . that it is in the sharing that greater wisdom evolves. Finally, in a turbulent world, it is easy to lose sight of the small beauties and moments of grace that occur constantly around us. I wanted Hall of Whispers to give voice to that side of ourselves that recognizes that this is as much a time of renewal as it is a time of decay."
Using the nascent Internet as well as fax, phone and standard mail, Andreas ultimately gathered more than 4,000 stories from around the world. At the time, Andreas was living with his wife and two young sons in Berkeley, and was focusing artistically on stone sculpting. "I had lots of white, black and beige around but no color." Finally, his wife is reported to have told him, "Please don't talk to me again until you have some color."
With his wife's words and two young sons as motivation, Andreas went out into his backyard and pulled a board from the fence and began to play with the boards and place little stories and some color onto them. Soon, shaped as 'people,' they began to sell at local craft markets in the San Francisco Bay area. Encouraged by the results, Andreas and his wife, Ellen Rockne, along with their sons, subsequently left Berkeley early in 1994 and returned to Decorah, Iowa, where the two had previously attended Luther College. Of the results of the Hall of Whispers and the fence-board experiments, it was eventually written that "he discovered the StoryPeople waiting to be carved out of rough barn board, painted in bright colors, and hand-lettered with their individual stories." He "gives voice to the vision of the child and the unsophisticated in books that listen to unnamed 'StoryPeople,' who express themselves through hand-stamped print, as if epigrammatically."
Andreas established the StoryPeople headquarters in downtown Decorah, Iowa, in May 1994 and spent the next decade directing the production of wood sculptures, print reproductions, books, greeting card sets and furniture all bearing his trademark "bright colors . . . and hand-lettered stories." He and his family have since moved back to California where they have recently moved into their new eco-friendly "green" home. Andreas continues to innovate with new stories and new media, currently creating original works on large canvases while also overseeing the development of a new website.
Of his work, Andreas says, "I like art that admits to being a part of life. The moments I have with my friends and family are really all that I need. I like to take them and weave them into stories that are filled with laughter and music and lunacy. And they are mostly true, but I'm not telling which parts. . . " "I have a real quirky view of the world. A century ago I would have been standing on a soapbox in Hyde Park telling people about a better way of seeing."
Andreas' first book of hand-stamped stories and black-and-white line drawings, entitled Mostly True, was first published in August, 1993. Still Mostly True followed in May 1994, and to date Andreas' publications include a total of ten books. He was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for Traveling Light in 2003, and again for Some Kind of Ride in 2006.
With his experience in design, storytelling and digital collaboration, Andreas started tumblecloud in April, 2008. The intention was to create a new communication platform that "will change the way we view ourselves & the planet. Moving from data to meaning. With tools that will help us remember that we're all creative & beautiful & alive. Tools that will help us remember who we are."  In its first phase, it is a web-based workspace for people to arrange, co-create and publish their collaborations, using integrated tools for manipulating cloud-stored multimedia objects. Andreas is currently the acting CEO and Chief Creative Officer (CCO).
- Mostly True (1993)
- Still Mostly True (1994)
- Going Somewhere Soon (1995)
- Strange Dreams (1996)
- Story People (1997 (compilation of Mostly True, Still Mostly True, and Going Somewhere Soon)
- Hearing Voices (1998)
- Trusting Soul (2000)
- Traveling Light (2003)
- Some Kind of Ride (2006)
- Peculiar Times (eBook only) (2008)
- Marching Bands Are Just Homeless Orchestras, Half-Empty Thoughts Vol. 1 (illustrations) (2010)
- Young 1996, p. C3.
- Webb 2006, p. 2D.
- Watts 1995, Sketchbook.
- Langton 1998, cover.
- Brainard 1994, B8.
- Wiley 1995, p. 2A.
- Andreas 1993, pp. 256-257.
- Brainard 1994, p. B8.
- Nathan 1998, p. 25.
- Wiley 1995, p. 1A.
- Marty 1998, p. 14.
- Webb 2006, 2D.
- Young 1996, C3.
- Andreas, 2009
- Andreas, B (1993). "Hall of Whispers: A Virtual Opera," LEONARDO, Vol. 26, No. 3, pp. 256–257.
- Andreas, B (2009). "The tumblecloud manifesto" Zen Bandit, May, 2009
- Brainard, L (June 16, 1994). "Arts and stories lead to StoryPeople," Decorah Journal, p. B8.
- Langton, C (Fall, 1998). "Stories, Sketches, Trunks, and the Art of Life," Vesterheim News, cover.
- Marty, M (July, 1998). "Revising the Map of American Religion," Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 558, Americans and Religions in the Twenty-First Century, pp. 14, 15.
- Nathan, J (Sept., 1998). "The StoryPeople: A Publishing Tale," ForeWord, p. 25.
- Watts Jr., J (May 21, 1995). "Artist's Work Like Prism Held Up to Light of Life," Tulsa World, Sketchbook.
- Webb, J (Dec. 8, 2006). "Slices of life, served with color," Billings Gazette, pp. 2D-3D.
- Wiley, D (Feb. 27, 1995). "His art speaks to people," Des Moines Register, pp. 1A-2A.
- Young, L (Nov. 7, 1996). "Funny People Hanging Around At the Library," New York Times, p. C3.
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