First published April 7, 2022
Oof, this one is lovely. Today, we’re chatting with the creative wizard that is Jane Bowyer aka A Studio Called Jane. She’s a Designer, Illustrator and Founder of the awesome Women in Print. In this interview, Jane shares how she’s learning to sit with her negative thoughts (and not buy into their BS!), how she prefers to put her ‘trust in the journey’, rather than make a rigid plan, and why her one-woman studio isn’t always a one-woman show. PSA: You’ve only got one more day to catch the FREE Women in Print ‘The First in the Fight’ exhibition at Kampus Manchester, featuring some exciting artists, including our fav Halah El-Kholy. Don’t miss it! Now, read on for some relatable and inspirational insights from Jane…
Jane, what’s your creative occupation?
I am a designer, illustrator and self-described one-woman studio. A Studio Called Jane is the name of my creative outfit. Jane is where play meets purpose, meaning meets impact, craft meets graft and, you get the idea. With my vibrant blend of design and illustration I bring ideas to life and create visual solutions tailored to the values of local heroes and global leaders alike.
Where have you been?
I’ve just got back from the butty shop (that’s sandwich shop for anyone outside of northern England) and I am about to eat lunch but well before that I was a sensitive, arty kid stubborn enough to follow my dreams to study graphic design at university. Graduation was followed by a ten-month stretch on the internship circuit which eventually led me to being offered a Junior Designer position at one of the agencies I had interned at in Manchester. I bounced up the agency career ladder to Senior Designer level pretty quickly before deciding to jump off it to see if I could land on my freelance feet. The jump was a big one and the landing certainly bumpy, but I’m happy I made the leap. Seven years on and I’m still making it work on my own.
Our brains love to tell us stories, to make sense of what’s going on around us and to keep us safe (…) Like a bangin’ Lizzo track, these stories get stuck in our heads and can turn into negative thoughts. JANE ON OVERCOMING NEGATIVE THOUGHTS
Where are you now?
In 2021, I founded A Studio Called Jane. ‘Jane Bowyer Design and Illustration’ lacked lustre as a business name and I needed my business and brand to better represent my creative practice and years of experience. Sure, it’s still me behind the wheel but this one-woman studio isn’t always a one-woman show. Sometimes I fly solo, sometimes I might bring together other independent designers and doers to crack a client brief and sometimes I am hired by bigger design agencies to work on a particular project, coming aboard as a lead designer or illustrator.
I’m also working on building my side project, Women in Print, which I started in 2016; telling the stories of women from the north of England through print and design. Women in Print puts artists at the centre of its programming, bringing a wide range of practitioners’ work to the public’s attention in cultural and educational settings. We have recently co-curated ‘First in the Fight’, an exhibition currently on display at Kampus in Manchester.
Where are you going?
I don’t have a rigid 10 year plan; I have long-term goals but I prefer setting myself short-term goals which when achieved and added up together over time, will support long-term success. I put my trust in the journey and remain open to getting involved in the right opportunities that come my way. I am confident I want my days to be rooted in doing something creative and purposeful. My style, means and motivations might change over time but I hope that whatever I do, I continue to do it with integrity, compassion and a whole lot of heart.
Finally, what’s occupying your thoughts today?
Firstly, finishing off answering these questions you’ve kindly sent me. My thoughts are usually tied up in completing daily tasks, thinking about what I’m going to eat and resisting existential panic. A lesson I’ve had to learn in order to get through the last couple of years is; you are not your thoughts. Our brains love to tell us stories, to make sense of what’s going on around us and to keep us safe. This is especially the case when we’re experiencing something difficult — like a global pandemic. Like a bangin’ Lizzo track, these stories get stuck in our heads and can turn into negative thoughts. If left unchecked, negative thoughts can make us doubt ourselves, act out, steal our joy and stop us moving forward. I’m getting better at sitting with my negative thoughts and not buying into their BS. It’s a (self)work in progress.