Jen Sievers Art
Welcome to the first blog of The Creator Collective, hooray!
I have followed Jen’s art journey the past few years and have absolutely fallen in love with her artwork and style, so you can imagine how ecstatic I was when Jen agreed to do this interview with me for The Creator Collective.
If you haven’t come across Jen’s art before, she creates beautiful abstract acrylic paintings, mainly of landscapes. The fresh and pastel colours are so calming and joyful, bringing light into every space her art is featured. I can’t wait to own a piece of my own!
Tell me a bit about yourself, where are you from, how did you end up becoming a full time artist?
I grew up in South Africa, surrounded by vibrant colour and culture. I always wanted to be an artist, it was my answer when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up from the age of three. In my teens I was convinced by the sensible and well meaning adults that being an artist wasn’t really a ‘job’, and I should head towards graphic design - being paid to create.
After school I did the first two years of a fine art degree (planning to major in Graphic Design), but I dropped out before finishing. Art school was not the place for me. I went on to study a diploma in graphic design at a specialist school and worked happily as a designer and art director for many years. Every now and then I would pick up a paint brush and give up after one painting.
I always dabbled in creativity outside of work. I was really into photography, and even had a small solo show in Napier (where I was living at the time) of film photography. Later on I started a small business refurbishing old wooden furniture with bright painted colours - the paint was starting to creep back in.
Fast forward a few years, I was a new mum, still working in advertising agencies, and feeling a real lack of meaning in my work. My daughter went down for a nap one afternoon and I felt an overwhelming urge to paint. I grabbed a piece of ply from the garage, with a mix of house paints and my toddler’s craft paints and started painting. After two hours of painting I had realised that this was going to be my new career, my new life’s purpose. I could feel it so deeply in my heart that nothing was going to stop me.
So for a few years I worked in my day job four days a week, had a young child, and in the evenings and on weekends I painted non stop, developing my style. I approached Endemicworld (after an intuitive hunch to email them) and they gave me my first big break - selling my work in their Ponsonby gallery!
You're definitely a women of many talents and skills! Why did you decide to become a full time artist?
I decided the moment I started painting - but it took me five years to get to the point of letting go of the day job. It was a hard five years of building a business while working and mumming. I was tired and stressed, and never gave anything as much attention as I wanted to. But I was convinced that becoming a full time artist was a huge financial risk - after all, it wasn't a ‘real’ job.
It actually took a cancer diagnosis to kick me into gear. In late 2019 I was diagnosed with breast cancer (a wake up call from the Universe). Luckily it was the curable type, and with some minor surgery and radiotherapy I was going to be cancer free. But cancer ended up being a huge blessing - I knew I was going to struggle going to daily radiotherapy sessions for three weeks while holding down a job, doing school runs and running my own business… so something had to go. I ended up finally taking the leap and quitting my day job in early 2020, and I’ve never looked back.
Talk to us more about your amazing artwork!
When I started painting, I was really inspired by the landscape around me (I live up in the Waitakere Ranges outside of Auckland - surrounded by valleys of native bush). I played a lot with trying to depict abstract landscapes in a way that felt authentic to me, but I didn’t really find my style. I then experimented with abstracts, portraits on perspex, birds and flowers, then back to abstracts. All the while I had this nagging feeling that I wanted to get my landscapes right. So I set aside a few weeks to experiment - trying every way I could think of, until I landed on a style that really felt like me. I created a series in this style and people loved it - best feeling ever! Now most of my work is large landscapes on canvas, all in my signature colours, and all wrapped up in joy.
Were you naturally drawn to paint from the start or did you experiment with other art forms before finding your niche? Abstract landscapes, pastels, what made you follow this path with your paintings?
In the past I explored photography, but my true passion is paint… I just had to remember that again. I chose acrylics because oils have always scared the life out of me! I like being able to clean my brushes with water. It was really a natural progression. My work is all intuitively led, so I’m always painting what feels good to me - over time, I developed and evolved into painting in the colours and styles I do today.
What is your favourite piece to date and why?
This changes a lot! But my current is one of my new plant series - her name is ‘Phoebe’ and I’m a little bit in love with her.
Pictured above: 'Phoebe'
Do you have any influences/inspirations? What do you do when you hit a creative block?
I’m constantly being inspired by everything around me. I see colour combos everywhere, and spend a lot more time scrolling on Instagram than is really necessary - so many beautiful things to fire up my colour loving soul. I’m also inspired daily by podcasts - everything from business development to spiritual awakenings.. I love listening to people and learning while I work.
I don’t really get creative blocks, but If I did I would probably go for a long walk, meditate and try to get reconnected to my inspiration. I see a creative block as a disconnection from the endless flow of universal creativity that we can access at any time.
What aspect of your business gives you the most joy and what motivates you to continue?
It’s all amazing. I feel like I’m living a fairy tale. I still adore painting, in fact if I ever have free time I just go down to my studio and keep working! I would love it if I didn't have to do so much admin - but there’s something empowering about running my entire business myself. Colour gives me the most joy - the act of creating, combining colours and watching things come to life. I also LOVE hearing from happy customers, and I love finding out that I've inspired other artists.
Did you face any obstacles when you first took the leap into becoming a full time artist? Anything that shocked or surprised you in a good or bad way?
I think becoming a full time artist can be tricky. There needs to be a combination of talent, really hard work, bravery and a splash of luck. I’ve found my intuition to be my biggest guide along the way. At the start, I often thought I just needed ‘one big break’ to make my art a career, but over time I’ve realised that it’s a series of little breaks that get you there eventually. Just like any business it takes time and dedication. Another obstacle is the mental thought pattern that it’s not a real job - that was a huge one for me to get past. I think more artists should see their work as valuable, and treat the selling of it as a legitimate business.
I was surprised to find that being a fulltime artist was a better financial decision than sticking to my day job. I’ve also always been very pleasantly surprised at how warm and welcoming so much of the art community is - particularly the realm of artists I ‘hang’ with on Instagram - not the really fancy gallery types, but those of us selling online and hustling day to day to make a career of it.
What is your proudest achievement?
I think it’s running my own business and doing it really well! I’ve surprised myself, I didn’t really know I had it in me.
What are your goals? What’s the next move for you?
I’m going to expand my business past painting - I want to work more on my online teaching, because inspiring people makes me feel amazing. I’m also working on a book, which is taking a while but really feeds my soul. There are so many exciting ideas buzzing around in my head - I feel like this is just the beginning.
If you had one piece of advice to give someone, what would it be?
Follow your bliss. We all have a divine purpose, and our higher self points us in the right direction by making us enjoy things. When something feels exciting, meaningful and joyful - that’s where you need to go. Don’t settle for a bland and boring life, that’s not what you’re here for.
Awesome piece of advice, thank you so much Jen for taking the time to speak with me today! Its been a pleasure