Robbi Behr and Matthew Swanson – Idiots Books
In 2006, Robbi Behr, an illustrator, and her husband, writer Matthew Swanson, moved to Behr’s hometown of Chestertown to begin a small press. Named Idiot’s Books, Behr and Swanson created illustrated picture books for adults out of a barn in the Historic District. Their success has lead to a wide spectrum of creative projects—another small press for children, Bobbedly Books, and an impressive series of indie books, music, and activities for adults and children. Behr and Swanson have also published two children’s books, Everywhere Wonder and Babies Ruin Everything, with national trade publications, as well as an illustrated middle school series titled The Real McCoys.
Together Behr and Swanson have defined their creative and personal lives on their own terms as business owners in Chestertown, and have found the community a supportive place to run Idiots Books and raise four children. “In 2006, Robbi and I quit our fancy design company jobs and came here to act like proper Bohemians and make art for a year, fully expecting to go back to the real world when we crashed and burned and failed,” says Swanson. “Instead, 12 years later, we’ve published 70 books, have a critically acclaimed series, and remain thoroughly committed to raising our four kids in the not-quite-real-because-it-is-so-charming-and-warm-and-supportive-and-beautiful world of Chestertown (which just happens to have a tax-free Arts and Entertainment District that saves us lots of money, of course).”
Photo courtesy of Tamzin B. Smith Portrait Photography