Liv and Dom Cave-Sutherland graduated from BA (Hons) Illustration in 2015. They have since established an international craft brand under the name Liv & Dom, creating and selling quirky (and mainly nude) characters.
They explain what it’s like to build a brand and work together as identical twins.
THE BEST AND WORST OF IT
DOM: The best thing about working together is being able to motivate each other. It’s great to have someone there to push you.
LIV: The fact that we know each other so well is helpful. We can delegate work between ourselves and pick up any slack where it’s necessary. I used to do all of the emails and admin—now we split it between us because we get so much correspondence these days.
I think the hardest part about working with anyone is trying to work through awkward situations where someone is expecting a certain quality of work. Dom is a perfectionist and does more graphic work, whereas my illustrations are more sketchy and weird.
DOM: Trying to get anyone to do their work how you do your work is a really bad idea, but it’s hard as we’re both trying to put out exactly the same product.
SACRIFICE BEING COMFORTABLE
LIV: We’ve been putting all of our time into improving our business as much as possible. When you’re not getting enough money from it you start wondering if you should be spending time focusing on something else, like maybe getting another job, but then that would mean we wouldn’t have enough time to put into the business. We’ve had to sacrifice being comfortable money-wise for the sake of growing our business.
DOM: It sounds really silly, but if you want to do really high-profile craft fairs they can be really expensive. They are a really good platform with a wide audience, so having no money and going to them is a challenge. Our first English stockist, Not the Kind, found us through a market. It’s paid off so far. We do make money and we only graduated last year.
CREATE A BRAND
LIV: Liv & Dom didn’t really happen until the last couple of months of university. After finding the second year [of our course] really challenging, we were trying to build a brand, think of a brand name and decide what direction to go in. We decided to go with our own names as they’re short and rhyme with ‘dot com’.
DOM: At first our lecturers suggested that we work separately, but when they saw that it was working really well they were happy to let us continue.
LIV: There’s a lot of cross-course collaboration at AUB, so it made sense for us to join forces when it came to starting a business together.
FROM INSTAGRAM TO ETSY’S NEW YORK HQ
LIV: Instagram has been really important for us. We have a website, but most people find us through Instagram. We’ve started working with some names that are well-known in the craft and illustration community. We’re currently working with [the illustrator] Tuesday Bassen. She’s just opened a new shop, Friend Mart, so our pieces will be stocked there.
DOM: Tuesday’s boyfriend found us on Instagram and bought her an incense holder for Christmas. She posted a photo of it on Instagram and over Christmas Day we gained a couple of thousand followers from it! It was a really cool moment for us.
PEOPLE LIKE NAKED PEOPLE
DOM: I’ve never been good at drawing people and getting the proportions right. I prefer working in 3D, so I just translated that into my work. Our in uences are probably quite modern. I always used to look at people like Rami Kim.
LIV: We observe trends and learn what people like. At the moment, people are really liking naked things.
DOM: We currently use polymer clay and our mum’s oven. We don’t actually make ceramics—we’re posers!
DOM: The idea for the naked incense holder just happened; I woke up one morning with the idea in my head and just had to make it that day.
LIV: At first it was just supposed to be male and phallic, but then people saw it as something else and thought that it should be a woman. It works quite well both ways. People just want naked people.