My Creative Story

A little bio about my creative journey, that began with some crafty school classes and clubs. Followed by pursuing a career in print publishing and digital media. Despite some setbacks, I have never given up on the dream of being able to create everyday. Here is some of the story so far and I look forward to continuing on this journey.

Since I was a child I’ve had a keen interest in art + craft. I went to a lot of after school care growing up, so it was quite commonplace for a babysitter or carer to put a stack of coloured paper and craft items in front of me to keep me entertained. They would say, “See what you can make with this.” Basically I was given little craft challenges as a kid, and I think that is why – even to this day – I can easily be inspired to make something with just about any craft material put in front of me. As a young adult, I felt more at home with creative subjects at school and university. I started to focus more on crafting and zine making about seven years ago, around the same time I started my first blog My Life as a Magazine. After some years’ later I had well and truly had the craft bug so I started another web space called DIY Kiosk, which focuses solely on craft, featuring tutorials on how to make lots of fun things, like a fairy bread piñatas, snail mail ideas and party crafts.

At The DIY KIosk

Joining the print life

Early on blogging allowed me to showcase some of my work and ideas to an audience. I than began self-publishing zines on subjects I wanted to read (that didn’t exist in book form). I also used them as a platform to present my design and print publishing skills to potential media employers. I worked hard to get into magazines by interning at every Australian publication house and working at a number of teen, entertainment and women’s titles for 3+ years, before securing my first full-time paid job in media. Hard work and persistence paid off in the end! No matter what setbacks I had, I didn’t want to give up.

Making With Jenna

I have self-published five zines: My Life In Biscuits, an illustrated biscuit memoir, Little Book of Mt Masking Tape, filled with crafty ideas and projects ideas using my favourite craft tool – Japanese washi tape, Japan in a Collection, a travel guide with a twist that reviews shops through souvenirs, Garage Sale: Hunt, Find, Record an activity zine on documenting your second hand finds and Happy Mail Day, a visual guide to snail mail and making your own handmade stationery and mail kits. I love stationery and putting together themed kits, so I made a Pop Goes Your Mail: Letter Art Kit, that includes everything you need to decorate and send a cute mail package to family and friends.

A mini artist is born

I’d describe my style as quirky, colourful, fun, playful, with a mix of Kawaii (Japanese cute) with doses of 80s nostalgia and off course Australiana. I developed a love for ‘celebration crafts’, when I was a kid as I wanted something unique and special to give to family for Easter, Christmas and birthdays – I know my parents still have some of my questionable creations laying around the house that I made during primary school out of pom poms and paddle-pop sticks!

I am very thankful that my parents could see how much joy creating something gave me. They encouraged me to follow my love of it by enrolling me in special creative clubs and classes such as music lessons, dance, Girl Guides, paper-toll and bead making.

I’ll also never forget when they gave me my first art kit box! It was filled with paper, paints, rubber stamps – everything a little artist could want and need. My dad is also very creative, and he would always help me with school projects and show me how to make things. I was always in awe of all the cool ideas he had, and I would always think, ‘I wish I could do that’. My parents took my sister and me with them to camera club, where we would learn about photography and hear the photographers talk about their work – I was hooked than and there to pursue a creative life.

Creating With Jenna

Having the freedom to be creative, turn my ideas into a reality and share it with others on a daily basis is very important to me.

Making things gives me a sense of calm and fosters mindfulness. It allows me to tune out from worries and concerns and helps me to focus on the creative task at hand. With everything so technology-based and mass produced these days, it’s great to slow down, get back to basics and make something handmade. It’s love in a creation!

My love for craft and media has always been my main motivator. I have too many ideas going on in my mind, so I need to keep creating so I don’t feel like I’m wasting an idea.

All aspects of my life inspire me: swatches of bright colours, fun prints, travel adventures, mementos, store fronts, pretty product packaging, the 80’s, childhood memories of growing up in Australia and my huge pile of potential craft and collage materials. A project can come about just by experimenting with all my favourite crafting tools and materials.
My favourite medium to work with is paper – you can make just about anything with it.

Most of my projects are paper-based, whether it is a publication, handmade stationery, gift wrapping techniques or party décor. Having said that there is no tool or materials I have not worked with before. It’s always fun to give something new a go.

My creative space

I like to work in a space that has good natural light, as it’s great for photographing projects. My workspace is decorated with my latest crafty creations, and my favourite craft tools are displayed on my desk in colourful and quirky mugs found in my local op shops. I have organised boxes filled with potential craft supplies and tools, and I draw my ideas down in a sketchbook before I make them.

On My Desk

Seeing opportunity during challenging times

A big career challenge was a team redundancy a few years ago that occurred at one of the previous publishing companies I worked at. It broke my heart. My role was more than ‘just’ a job – I was passionate about the brand and titles I worked for, so to see them fall was upsetting in itself. People can feel so defined by their career, so I was emotionally grieving a big loss of identity.

For the next four months, I was dealing with the emotional aftermath. Knowing I would have to go through all the job searching and interview process again made it worse – ( It’s not easy to crack into the print and media industry). I avoided some social situations initially as I didn’t want to feel like a failure. I couldn’t bear anyone asking me, “How was work?”, so I didn’t tell many of my family and friends. I have always thought redundancies occurred later in life, not at the start or height of your career.

I began focusing more on my personal projects, such as self-publishing and setting up a new online business. It wasn’t until I started working on these that I discovered the ‘silver lining’ – the redundancy wasn’t an end. I had, in fact, just been handed the BIGGEST opportunity. I had nothing to lose, only more to gain.

Creative idols

Magazine editors and writers have always inspired me career-wise. As a teenager, I would keep the magazine mastheads of team members on my bedroom wall (amongst the Hanson posters) and memorise them – editors and writers were my idols. When it comes to artists and creatives, Ken Done is right up there. He is an Australian icon – his colourful, bright and bold art holds a special place in my heart, and rekindles many happy memories of my childhood growing up in the mid ’80s. Ken Done taught me how to see the beauty in the Australian landscape through colour.

After travelling to Japan a couple of years ago, I fell in love with their innovative craft, art and design culture, which ignited a new creative view in me that influences a lot of my work today. It could be a store front of a sweet bakery, craft store, their food packaging, a cuisine, fashion or a layout in one of their amazing magazines and books. There is so much wonder and fun in that country – I was just amazed at everything including their attention to detail. It was like being a kid again discovering something new and exciting at every turn.

Working in print and digital media

Some of my career highlights have been working at some of Australia’s leading magazines such as Cosmopolitan Bride and CHILD Mags, and having my craft projects, styling and photography published in The Australia’s Women’s Weekly, Girlfriend, Girlpower, Collective Hub, Home & Décor, JBHIFI Stack, Lifestyle You, Nickelodeon, Channel [V]. I have had my work featured, and my own stall at the MCA Zine fair, and within the Sydney Rocks Pop-Up Project. I’ve also been profiled in a couple of books by Hardie Grant – Snail Mail + Care Packages by Michelle Mackintosh.

Hello Me

From the experience, I learned that only you can create your own opportunities – so seek them out. I live by this every day.

In the future, I hope to still be working in magazines and digital media. It would also be a dream come true to have a craft book published and have it sitting on bookshop shelves!

For more info check out my about page, blog, Instagram, You Tube Channel and feel free to contact me over here.

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