From a 100-square-foot studio in La Canada, just north of Los Angeles, husband-and-wife team Justina and Trevor Freel hand-produce ethereal botanical artworks while concurrently designing homes, gardens and furnishings for clients. Their multidisciplinary firm, Rose Thicket, melds their talents yet lets each oversee areas of particular interest. (Their prints, for example, are made on a vintage press and combine Justina’s illustration skills with Trevor’s knowledge of mineral inks.) Their symbiotic relationship is further enhanced by their love of nature and time spent together in the garden that inspires their work.
How do you get your creative juices flowing?
Justina: By being in the garden, taking a walk in the forest, getting a massage or lighting a Juniper Ridge incense stick that grounds us to the botanical spirit of California.
Tell us about your most treasured creation.
Trevor: The watercolor painting Justina did of the cottontail rabbit and jackrabbit leaping over a rose thicket. It’s our story of overcoming adversity to pursue our dreams.
Tell us your favorite family tradition and what makes it so special.
T: We’ve started a tradition of planting California native plants for special occasions or in times when we’ve had a tough day and need an emotional pick-me-up.
Tell us about an artwork that turned out differently than how you expected.
J: All of our hand-cut paper silhouettes are a pleasant surprise for us–once they’re framed, we can see how the layers interact with light to cast shadows that express the essential form of the plants.
The best piece of advice I ever received was…
J: I had the amazing opportunity to meet Jane Goodall when I was twenty. She told me to always follow my heart. I do this with every action in my life.
Tell us about your all-time favorite book.
T: Tending the Wild by M. Kat Anderson. I’m always seeking to learn the traditional, ecological knowledge of indigenous cultures, to holistically take care of all beings and the earth so that it can heal and regenerate.
Do you have a muse? If so, who and why?
J: Our muse is the natural world. We’re always amazed and grateful for all we have learned, and the lessons we are continually learning.