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Beginning Again

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Although the wind
Blows terribly here
The moonlight also leaks
Between the roof planks
Of this ruined house

~ Izumi Shikibu

When Brian and I met at a dinner in 2015, it never occurred to either one of us that we would begin a life together. I had no inclination to step away from the world of academia I’d dedicated myself to for 20 years, and he was the artist of StoryPeople, already three years in to a contentious divorce that lasted until just yesterday...

Yet here we are. Beginning again. From scratch… here at Flying Edna. Creating a new company together. 

This morning I think of a dear friend from South Africa… She and I met in a stairwell in 1999 at a conference in NYC, and have been like sisters ever since. Two years ago her car was burgled in a grocery store parking lot while she was inside buying milk. She lost irreplaceable intellectual property she’d spent years creating and didn’t have the money to replace the lost digital equipment. When she calmly told me the details, I asked her if she was ok, and she said something like, “I’m fine. This is South Africa. What happens to one of us happens to all of us. Why would I expect to be spared of the violence of spirit that is happening in my country to so many people…” This was her response. No anger, no blame, only compassion and understanding for the larger whole.

That Brian would lose the company he built and fed, is one thing. But to lose 19 years of copyrights to someone who had nothing to do with their creation and no respect for you as a person is quite another. To separate the work from the living artist... to lose control of how your name goes out into the world... As a fellow artist, this seems improbable.

But, blatant lies are passed off as truth not only in our legal system, but all over the country right now. 

Brian is fighting this through appeal, but currently this is the way things stand.

As I think of my friend and breathe deeply. I summon her grace and expanded heart.

This is my country. What happens to one of us happens to all of us.

Our country is much bigger than this drama we're entangled in. And while we must continue to be authentic and speak up, what's equally important is to keep in motion towards the life we wish to live. Each of us gets to choose the stories we believe about any given moment in time. And while we may be surprised by something in life, the shock can be an opportunity to reframe something in an entirely new way, one that leads towards a life you love... 

always in motion,


(added as of Sept 2019)

(here are Brian's thoughts on this)

at some point telling the truth ought to matter... 

p.s.  Over a year later, Brian's appeal is still caught up in the Iowa court system with no date set on the calendar, and still nothing is posted on the StoryPeople website that lets people know Brian no longer has any connection with his old company or where to find him... 

The continued malice behind the scenes belies the outward facing one can see on a website or through social media. 

But as David Esterly says '...cheating shows & virtue has its own rewards...'

So, we are taking the time to clearly ask that you please pass Brian's new location on to others who have enjoyed Brian's work all these years. 

p.p.s.  Always attribute – never claim another’s words as your own. Even if you change just a few, the thought and heart, philosophy and insight is not yours. It is the original artist that was so accurate in a moment to inspire something so familiar, you thought it came from you. It didn’t.

Attribute. Demand it of others… it will help people speak more freely if they know their words will not be taken.

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  • I stumbled onto the Story People FB page this morning, and the stories didn’t sound like the ones I knew from Brian’s Berkeley days, when we met and became friends. He left an indelible impression on me. Curious, I started following threads to try to understand who he’d become—it was so long ago…but the writing just didn’t resonate with my recollection of the man…and I’m still piecing together the story. Those who can read cannot be tricked by form; voice is like a fingerprint.

    Deborah Coffin on
  • As a writer myself, this just horrifies me. Brian’s voice is his voice. It belongs to no other. Anything else is an imitation. The “new” works are so clearly inferior. I truly do not believe most people know it’s not Brian’s work. Plus if those boys have any talent of their own at all, copying Brian’s dishonors that in such a big way. As a collector since the very early days, I have been doing all I can to support your current work together. I’m enjoying the new work very much and everything you offer here and will continue to buy/give and enjoy. When anyone refers to your work I do tell them that the old company isn’t yours and that you lost rights to that earlier work. Mostly creatives, themselves, they are horrified. You just keep being you and doing you. Quality shows. With love and respect / Carol

    Carol Cassara on
  • I met Brian in the early 90’s in Manhattan Beach, CA when he did story time at our local gallery downtown. We would bring blankets and sit on the floor (adults) and he’d read us stories. It was clearly memorable! I’ve purchased his art and books and have given many as gifts back in those days.

    Last week, I was in the Seattle airport and saw a display for what I thought was still his work and that set me on a search of the classic Story People. I found the website. I searched for his name. Nowhere. Confused, I kept googling and found this. It saddens me to hear of what he’s lost and how difficult that must be on a multitude of levels.

    Please share with him that his work (along with Calvin & Hobbes and Shel Silverstein) has been my biggest influence for starting my new art business and brand after a 30-year career in television. HIS Story People are what live on and inspired me. I’m happy to have found his work here.

    (I hope someday people call me the Brian Andreas of Trees. :)

    All the best to you both,
    Tracy Mazuer

    Tracy Mazuer on
  • Thank You so much for sharing. This explains so much. I found Brian’s art in 1994 and it touched my heart. I gave books as gifts and shared so many insightful moments with his words.

    I ordered gifts from Story People about a year ago and then promptly misplaced or lost them all. It was weird and has been bugging me. Now I see why. I never supported Story People I supported Brian. Many blessings and may you have peace.

    Brandy Adams on
  • This is heartbreaking. I found Brian’s work when I stumbled upon “Different Plans” in 2008. It hit me like a lightning bolt, it was just what I needed at that point in my life and I can fairly say it gave me the courage to give up and it set me on the path I was supposed to be on. Brian’s words and art is not only inspired, it’s other-worldly. It’s eternal. It’s so hard to see that art that has a life of it’s own is in the hands of the legal system that accepts lies and dolls out judgement as it sees fit.

    I hope Brian is fighting this and his precious art is given back under his control. I also hope his sons / ex realize that inspiration such as Brian’s cannot be copied, no matter how hard they try, and they need to branch out and find their own way. It’s painful to see the “newer” stories posted on social media.

    My best wishes for the future, and I will continue to purchase from Flying Edna in the future!

    Nicole Olsen on

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