Business

20 Minutes with Kansas City Artist Duo Scribe and Alisa Ross

ScribesWalk and 40Threads is the artistic brainchild of the husband-wife duo Donald Ross, a.k.a. “Scribe,” and Alisa Ross. Perhaps you’ve seen their work.

There are murals by Scribe scattered around Midtown Kansas City, not to mention his day job as the in-house artist for Children’s Mercy Hospital, and Alisa’s recent installation inside the Threshing Bee boutique at Prairiefire.

The couple’s art is enough to buzz about, but it’s what they’re doing in the community that you should be familiar with.

When asked if ScribesWalk and 40 Threads are two different companies, Scribe replies, “Not necessarily.” That’s because there is no explicit separation; their imaginative collaboration is both interdependent and distinct, with each half developed in its own time.

ScribesWalk evolved out of the mural work Scribe had been doing in the Midtown area. “As that developed more, I started doing design work for people, and at each job, started creating different types of work,” he says. “It was a very organic way that it turned into a brand.”

As for 40Threads, “I had a children’s book that came out in 2006 called ‘There’s An Octopus Under My Bed.’ At that time, Alisa had been taking a break from doing art. There is a stuffed animal octopus in the story, and I asked Alisa to make that toy. That led to more work, more exposure, and the wider the types of jobs she was asked to do.”

Their creative relationship is symbiotic; they design and make their own pieces, but there is an occasional crossover effort, usually when it comes to toys. Scribe will hand-cast and paint, and Alisa will make outfits for the character.

Though their joint creations are typically small-scale, they recently had one of their biggest collaborations to date: a tactile mural for the Center for the Visually Impaired (CCVI) in Wesport—collaboration, Scribe says, that they are the most proud of (shown above).

The mural was a combination of Scribe’s paintings in high-contrast colors, and Alisa’s plush work attached to the walls for kids with varied levels of sight. “Some can see blurry, some can see contrast, and some cannot see at all,” Scribe says. “We made a mural that, to the best of our efforts, met all of these needs so that teachers can use it as a teaching tool.”

CCVI has already invited Scribe and Alisa back to collaborate on more work around the area. “That was one of the coolest projects…that really smashed our work together,” Scribe says.

It is this kind of work that Scribe and Alisa hope to continue doing in addition to their custom toys.

Up next for the 40 Threads half of the business is a partnership with Demdaco, offering plush animals with a secret pocket to store items to be marketed to kids. Expect the idiosyncratic features that have come to be synonymous with Alisa Ross’s work.

Check out the ScribesWalk and 40 Threads website for limited-run toys at scribeswalk40threads.bigcartel.com. Consider yourself officially notified because these pieces go fast. Follow their Instagrams, @scribeswalk and @40threads to keep up with their creations.

- Kathryn Greene