>> Who: Ben Lawhon
Wife: Allison Bozeman of BirdDog Press
>> When I met Alli...
A bit of a long story…we met in 1994 when we were both in college. I was working in an outdoor gear shop and Alli and a friend came in to buy a pair of hiking boots. Fortunately I was the lucky guy who got to help them. When you’re buying a pair of hiking boots, it’s a bit of a process, so I had plenty of time to try to work some magic. After an hour or so, she decided on a pair of boots and I casually asked what they were up to the coming weekend and told them that I was going on a backpacking trip. I asked if they were interested in joining and got a resounding “NO.” Undeterred, I got a phone number and a few weeks later we met up at a bar that one of my college roommates was running. We hit it off right away. I had never met anyone like her and was immediately smitten. We dated briefly and then parted ways but always kept in touch.
Undeterred, she strolled around the festival grounds in the dark and somehow managed to find me in a literal sea of people.
As the years went by we both dated other people and lived in different parts of the country but there was always something there. Then in 1999 I had plans to spend a week hiking on the Appalachian Trail with some friends. Our final destination was a festival in Damascus, Virginia called Appalachian Trail Days. Alli had let me know that she too would be coming to the festival but I really didn’t think we’d ever meet up. Nonetheless, I told her where we’d be and invited her to meet up with our crew. In true night owl fashion, she rolled into the festival late in the evening after a long drive from Nashville only to find that we weren’t camping where I had told her we’d be. Undeterred, she strolled around the festival grounds in the dark and somehow managed to find me in a literal sea of people. To this day, I still have no idea how she found me. I was shocked and surprised to see her to say the least. We spent the next few days catching up and from that point on we were inseparable. So we’ve known each other for the past 15 years and been together for the past 10.
My current guilty pleasure is American Idol. I just can’t help myself.
I’m addicted to seltzer water. Flat out addicted. I drink it like it’s my job.
I love to garden. Something about coming home from work every day and checking on the plants to see how much they’ve grown or changed. It’s a daily ritual for me in the summer.
The only team sport that I like is college football. Tennessee Volunteer football, to be specific. I love it. Can’t get enough. I really can’t stand basketball and baseball. I’d rather watch paint dry.
I’d like to be a fly fishing guide when I grow up. I’m not good enough to be a guide (yet) but I love fly fishing and would like to do it every day if I could.
1. What would you say are the three most important things that you do to support Alli in her creative endeavors?
Cook, clean and babysit. What else is there? No, seriously, I do whatever I can to help free up time for her to spend time in her letterpress studio. I’d say my number one priority is to give her as much time as I can to do what she does best – create. Number two is to give her space. Alli is one of those people who not only operates well alone but likes (and cherish) time alone. Not just time alone in the middle of the night when the rest of us are sleeping but time during the day to do whatever it is that the Birddog Press needs to do to keep rolling. Lastly, have endless faith in her abilities. She has done some things over the years that I would have never agreed to if I were the only one making the decision. However, most of her gambles have paid off in big ways. I guess it boils down to trust – trusting her instincts. Which, by the way, are very good.
2. Being with someone who works long and irregular hours can be tough... from missed dinners to not being able to do simple things like relaxing or watching your favorite shows together as often as you'd like... How do you stop the craziness from impacting your relationship?
Maybe it’s just because I’m getting older but the world seems to be moving faster and faster every day so we just have to work at slowing things down from time to time.
Ahh, the days of watching Six Feet Under, Weeds or Dexter together. Whatever happened to those days? Before Alli left the corporate hell that she called a job, we had what seemed like an eternity of ‘spare’ time together. Dinners, movies, backpacking and rafting trips, skiing, gardening, parties, etc. Once she decided she couldn’t take anymore of that life and took the big leap to start Birddog Press, our life changed. Forever. I can’t say that it’s gotten any easier to handle the craziness but I guess we’re both better at dealing with it. We have learned to give each other space (and time) to do things to help each other unwind. However, the biggest key for us is communication. I know it sound cliché but it sounds that way for a reason. Communication is critical to keep us from going nuts. If I need a day of fly fishing to clear the brain, I just tell her. That doesn’t mean that it’s always in the cards but it does mean that she knows that I’m going crazy and need to get out. One thing we do is check in every Thursday or Friday to see who has what needs for the coming weekend. We then do the same thing on Sunday night for the coming week. We also just started a family calendar to help keep track of her schedule, my schedule and our son’s schedule. Maybe it’s just because I’m getting older but the world seems to be moving faster and faster every day so we just have to work at slowing things down from time to time.
3. What was the strangest thing you've done to support Alli in what she does?
...I do like impressing my friends by showing them how the paper cutter will slice through the Denver Yellow Pages like a knife through hot butter.
Sharing my garage with a 1200 lb antique C&P letterpress. I was leaving for a work trip in the Canadian Rockies for a week and Alli told me that when I came home there would be a letter press at our house. I’m thinking, “Right, a letterpress. Good luck.” Well, she’s a woman of her word and low and behold I come home to this iron monolith in my garage. You have to understand, the garage is the ‘man room’ in the house, full of backpacking gear, telemark skis, a whitewater raft, fly fishing gear, tools, etc. Putting a letterpress in there was not really high on my list. Not to mention that I didn’t really believe her that the thing weighed 1200 lbs. However, when I decided to move the press a few feet by myself, I quickly realized that it was easily over half a ton. I couldn’t move that thing at all. So it stayed for the next couple of years right were it had been unloaded. A few months ago Alli moved into a new studio and the press when with her. Hallelujah! I get my space back. Wrong. A few weeks ago she tells me that she’s getting a 100-year-old death trap of a guillotine paper cutter. Sweet. Just what I wanted in my garage. So much for having my space back. I’ve learned that sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and do whatever is needed to help the family business. I will have to say, I do like impressing my friends by showing them how the paper cutter will slice through the Denver Yellow Pages like a knife through hot butter.
4. What is the easiest and hardest thing about being Alli’s other half?
The easiest thing is being married to my best friend. We have so much history and so many shared experiences; it’s easy to have a good time together. It doesn’t matter if we’re skiing in Taos, rafting in Utah, traveling in Scotland or just sitting on our back porch in Colorado watching our son play in the mud, we can have a good time together.
I’m the guy who needs a minimum of 7 hrs of sleep but she can run on 3-5 hrs with seemingly no problem.
The hardest thing is seeing her work her fingers to the bone. I do not know another soul on this planet that works as hard as Alli. She regularly stays up until the wee hours of the morning to work. We’re talking 2, 3am on a regular basis. I really don’t know how she does it. I’m the guy who needs a minimum of 7 hrs of sleep but she can run on 3-5 hrs with seemingly no problem. This leaves little time for much else which is hard. I don’t want to see her miss life as it passes by. However, her work is her real passion in life so I know she’s satisfied but it’s hard to watch the long, grueling hours.
5. Please choose one of your personal favorites from Alli's collection.
I like all of Alli’s work – I’m constantly amazed by her abundant creativity (which I have almost none of…). However, if I had to pick, I’d probably go with the Vintage Wood Type Stationery she’s been getting into lately. Alli has a strong affinity for cool old stuff and the vintage wood type is just her style. The fact that it’s such a throwback to the old days of letterpress is really cool. Not to mention that since she has the entire alphabet covered, she can make stationary for virtually anyone with any initials.