Studio Snapshots: Jarrett & Jerome Pumphrey

Today we’re visiting the studio of Jarrett and Jerome Pumphrey, talented brothers with amazing combined backgrounds of creative direction, entrepreneurship, graphic design, technical writing, illustration, and fatherhood. Their delightful picture book, The Old Truck, utilized a colorful stamping technique – you can read more about it, as well as try it yourself, on their website! Based in Texas, the two are hard at work on their second picture book The Old Boat, which will be released next month.


Photo 1: We each have our own studios. This is Jarrett’s and serves as the space we use to collaborate. At the center of the space is a giant, sturdy workbench. It’s perfect for all the printmaking activities we get up to. We’re right in the middle of making a bunch of prints for preorders of our new book THE OLD BOAT.

Photo 2: We keep our flat file storage under the bench. We use some of the drawers for storing supplies, but mainly, they store all the stamps and prints we make for every project we do.

Photo 3: This is Whiskey. She’s our studio assistant. Her primary duty is to lie down right in the way so we’re constantly almost tripping as we move around the space. She keeps us on our toes.

Photo 4: We like to be surrounded by the work of creators we admire, so on one wall Jarrett has a collection of original art from illustrator friends and favorites.

Photo 5: And then on the opposing wall, he has a library of books.


Images courtesy of Jarrett & Jerome Pumphrey

She Does Her Own Stunts

matilda T2 IMG_5678 edit 02 diptic_cropped 1

Once upon a quarantine, a father of two decided to haul a plastic ride-on car into the house. The plan was to stick in the shower for a fun and highly distracting “car wash.” But it turned into an epic odyssey of film, photography, set design, costuming, and procuring inflatable orca whales.

matilda Never Ending Story DIPTIC copy_cropped 1Alex Zane and his 5 year-old daughter Matilda have quite a following on Instagram, posing for kiddie parodies of classic movie scenes. Beginning with Teen Wolf, the pair have explored all genres of film. Oh, and there’s a giant stuffed fox who does cameos as well! I caught up with Alex to ask him about this amazing creative collaboration…

matilda love actually 01 xx 3576 DIPTIC www_cropped 1Do you have a background in art and film?

Aside from loving movies forever I have no background in art or film. This project has made me realize how much I missed being creative. I had rarely taken a photograph before all of this (my wife could attest to this).

Generally speaking, how long does it take to create a shot?

The actual clicking of the camera is all of fifteen seconds – we are working with a five year-old so we only have a few seconds before she loses interest in everything and is ripping the wig off. The lead up can take some time though – since I don’t know how to take a photo Andrew [a friend who is a professional photographer] walks me through everything with diagrams and test shots.

We also have to pick the scene we are going to do and make sure it’s nothing to complex that a brand new photographer and toddler can handle – finally we figure out if we can “kidify” the scene – the Reservoir Dogs with Mr. Potato or the Barbie doll leg in The Graduate were major eureka moments. We spend probably way too much time on this trying to match everything up – my forearm is still burning from holding the stuffed fox up trying to line him up just right with Keanu. I remember thinking, “It’s amazing this is my life.”

Photo Jan 03, 8 53 12 PM_cropped 1How have your skills changed over the course of your work?

I understand the importance of lighting! And that you can get a kid to wear any kind of wig if the prize is big enough.

I’ll wager that many of these films haven’t been viewed by your daughter quite yet! Do you explain the scenes to her? Just show her a screen shot? Simply ask her to pose? 

She always sees a screen shot. She always asks questions centered around “why do they look that way.” I sometimes forget what I tell her but it’s a G-rated summary of any PG-13 and above movie. One time she was showing a cousin some of the photos and I heard her say “That’s about a wizard who took his mouth away …” I had to look over to realize she was telling them about The Matrix. I can’t stress enough that she thinks Silence of the Lambs is about a man who accidentally dropped a quarter down a well…

Since you started this venture, what are the TOP THREE weirdest props you’ve purchased?

I wonder if the FBI has flagged my Amazon account. No, a lot of the props have come from local online yard sales. I will also post on community thread asking for items – a neighbor gave us an old karate outfit we used for Karate Kid. I once posted on an online town group asking for a kid size straight jacket and Hannibal Lecter mask and got immediate responses from people who had the items. I love my town. To answer the question: fur coat (The Royal Tenenbaums) inflatable orca (Free Willy) and plastic gizmo (Gremlins).

Do you ever show up in a photo as well? To cut to the chase…is that YOU in the inflatable T-Rex costume in the Jurassic Park parody? Please say yes. 

In the beginning I did – before we started kiddifying the scenes. I’m in the original Good Will Hunting photo. There have been a few failed recreations – I played James Cann in Misery with Matilda mimicking smashing my ankles. No, I have no memory how I described that scene to her. It’s not me in that T-Rex costume! It’s Sam Neil.

Do you have a favorite photo, and why?

They are all like my children…forget that Reservoir Dogs. It’s the most fun to take some unsettling scene and completely deflate it will silly kid toys and props. Also that background crowd in Forrest Gump is a gallery of iconic toys – Poppy mixed with Boo from Monsters Inc. That cast totally justifies the multiple copy right infringement lawsuits it will likely cause.

What movie is still proving to be elusive to your creative vision?

The Ghost pottery scene flipped out with some play doh. It’s my white whale.

Does the stuffed fox co-starring in many of the images have a name and a story of his/her own?

You know he is a fox! His name is Blue Ears White Dora. I don’t know where that name came from. He was a gift from a brother in law. I remember watching him lug that thing up our front steps and immediately cursing him. It was massive and I knew it would never be played with. For months it took up 1/2 of whatever room he was…he sat neglected but we started slipping him into photos and we realized how talented he was. Now he’s like my third child.

Is there anything Matilda would like to add to this interview?

How much are they paying us for this interview?


Images courtesy of Alex Zane

Totally Random

Writers! Get ready for something TOTALLY random, because this handy-dandy machine, constructed out of a simple pasta box, could house the perfect prompt for your next story. Pull the cardboard tab, and your prompt will drop out, ready to be elaborated upon!

You’ll need:

  • 1 pasta box with window
  • A box cutter
  • A bit of cardboard or poster board
  • A set of writing prompts
  • Scissors and tape for construction
  • Markers for decorating

This budget-friendly pasta box project was inspired by a mini claw machine in my own house, which is also stocked with writing prompt scrolls:

Why do I have a mini claw machine in my house? The short answer is: the pandemic. The long answer is that my kids and I didn’t take our annual beach vacation last summer. We always spend a couple days in Cape May, including fun evenings at the Wildwood boardwalk. It’s our one and only vacation each year. It didn’t happen, and spirits were low. So I surprised them with a boardwalk in my studio, which we visited nightly:

I had tabletop versions of our favorite games (claw machine, air hockey, skee ball). There was a mini roller coaster, remote control mini bumper cars, and balloon darts. I also decorated the room with string bulbs, flashing party lights, and blasted three kinds of music from three different places in the room (techno, pop, and calliope classics).

To be sure, this amount of stuff was a splurge for me. However, the most expensive item (the claw machine) is currently enjoying a second life as a writing prompt dispenser. Oh, and the remote control bumper cars have resolved many a sibling fight (TRIAL BY BUMPER CARS! THIS IS THE WAY!).

To make your own random prompt generator, you’ll just need an empty pasta box with a window! Use a box cutter to cut an opening in the front of the box, close to the bottom. This is where the prompt will slide out. Above that, cut a slot with a little, folded down ledge:

Next, slide a piece of cardboard (or poster board) into the slot so it rests on top of the ledge. This is the cardboard “floor” that holds the prompts in place inside the box. Make sure the cardboard extends well past the ledge, so kids can pull and push it back easily:

You’ll also need to tape a matching ledge inside the box to hold the cardboard floor steady (otherwise, the pile of prompts will just drop out). You can see the little white cardboard ledge I taped inside my pasta box below:

Finally, make your prompt scrolls! Here’s a list Katie and I put together to get you started. Just make sure the scrolls are thin enough to be removed from the bottom of your box! Slide the cardboard floor into place, and load the scrolls into the box from the top. Done!

To operate, pull the cardboard floor slowly outward until a single scroll drops down. Then push the floor back in. Grab your prompt, unroll it, and get writing! Reload new prompts into the top of the box as needed. You can also add a facade on the front of the box…just make sure it doesn’t cover your ledge or your windows:

If you would like some feedback on that fabulous story, we have an email editing service here, as well as a one-on-one Zoom program here. And 50 zillion bonus points if you recognized the final writing prompt on our list…yup, it’s from our annual 350 for 50 writing contest, which will be happening again this spring! So stay tuned!