Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Interview - Jenna Templeton

I stumbled onto Jenna Templeton's blog through one of those happy accidents which occur when one blog leads to another. For starters, I fell in love with the name: My Life as a Magazine. Is that not the best blog name ever? I love it. The idea of approaching a blog like a personal magazine - collated, edited and written by one person was something very appealing and interesting. Secondly, I lived in Japan for a little while so I was immediately attracted to her blog aesthetic, her kawaii craft projects and just her general fun style. And lastly (but not least) I was exploring the possibilities of washi tape (oh, so, so many uses!) and discovered her cute zine, Little Book of MT Masking Tape. Then I noticed she'd self-published other zines. Well, that got me. Never one to ignore my own curiosity, I followed my nose, and tentatively asked if she would answer a few questions. And she said YES! Yay! Welcome, Jenna...

Jenna Templeton

Tell us a bit about yourself, your work and your achievements.
I’m a writer/designer/blogger and self-publisher who grew up in the lower Blue Mountains of Sydney, Australia. I love polka dots, Japan, pretty prints and packaging, washi tape, lots of colour, cosy rainy days with a good cup of tea, getting crafty in my home studio space and reading and collecting beautifully designed magazines and books.
I blog about my creative adventures at My Life as a Magazine. It’s me, my life in a...I should say 'blogazine' form.  It’s a collection of daily loves that focuses on creative trend reporting by putting the spotlight on up-coming and unique designers/bloggers and also includes Japan and stationery musings, my favourite things, book and magazines reviews as well as my own creative projects.
With a passion for print media and design I self-published three zines: ‘My Life In Biscuits’ an illustrated biscuit memoir, ‘Little book of mt masking tape’ that includes crafty ideas and projects using Japanese washi tape and ‘Japan in a collection’ a travel guide with a twist that reviews shops through mementos. I sell my publications and other handmade wares online at the My Life As A Magazine Etsy store.
I have also made craft videos for some of my projects that are featured in my publication ‘Little book of mt masking tape’.

Clockwise from top left: Jenna's 'Little Book of MT Masking Tape' zine, 'Japan in a collection' zine, zine packaging, Jenna's 'Mini-mart' pop-up shop. (Photos: Jenna Templeton)

I had three designs that exhibited in Tokyo’s edition Paumes ‘Pray for Japan 2011’ charity exhibition held at Galerie doux dimanche. All money raised for the event went to Japan’s Red Cross Society to help those affected in the horrible earthquake and tsunami disaster.

October last year I was part of ‘The Rocks Pop-up Project’ thanks to Kitiya Palaskas giving me a space within her ‘Mini-mart’ shop in Sydney. Here I was able to create a ‘Kawaii Pop’ themed gallery/shop that included: handmade Kawaii d├ęcor – dreamcatcher, Polish chandelier, mt tape spoons and my paper art - Snap Tokyo Girls Bunting, paper food, gift packaging, collage envelopes and bags, polka pop themed jewellery, Kawaii Pop rosettes, and washi tape words [see a picture of Jenna's Mini-mart shop in the bottom-left of the above collage. - Jodi]. Products to purchase included: illustrated biscuit gift tags, fairy bread cards and my publications. Each customer was also given a handmade stamped gift bag with a Japanese sweet attached!

I also hosted my first workshop here on how to make Kawaii pop rosettes. Each workshop participant was given Kawaii Pop DIY Kits, which includes all the materials need to make your very own Kawaii-Pop themed rosettes!
When did you know you wanted to work creatively and what steps did you take to make it happen? 
I was never good at maths at school however I always enjoyed all the creative subjects. Looking back I always hated how being creative wasn’t always included in the ‘smart’ category so I did find it hard to find my place. Now at 28 I have learnt to embrace my quirky, fun, colourful side – yes it’s ok to be different!
Not sure which creative industry I wanted work in, I did a Bachelor of Electronic Arts that included units in art, film, music technology and communications - as it included a bit of everything. By the end of my degree I knew I wanted to work in magazines as I loved all aspects of it: writing, designing, photography, product styling – for me mags had it all! I started my journey into magazines by becoming an Editor/Designer of a non-profit online woman’s magazine then worked on building my portfolio up by pitching and getting articles published in various online and print magazines followed by lots of work experience and interning. At the end of last year I finally scored a job in my dream industry – magazines, it took A LOT of hard-non-paid work and three years to get there so this was a big achievement for me as it is a very hard industry to crack into! 
Do you have any routines or rituals you perform before starting a new craft project or putting together a zine? How do you motivate yourself? 
I have been told that I have a photographic memory, so a pattern, colour, design or childhood memory can always easily trigger an idea. I always begin a craft project by getting inspired and looking in my huge pile of potential craft and collage materials! I like to organise my future projects into boxes by filling them with inspiring visual references and materials that could be included in a particular project. I am motivated by not wanting to waste an idea.

Jenna's studio space (photo: Jenna Templeton)

How do you manage your time between your day job and work on 'My Life as a Magazine' projects and blog? How do you structure your time? 
I’m still working on this as I get pretty tired now by the time the weekend rolls around. I have notebooks filled with ‘to do lists’. Without these I wouldn’t be able to get things done and would probably go crazy. When I am not working at the magazine during the week, I spend my weekends writing posts for my blog, and product and DIY craft project styling. I think people would think it’s funny if they actually witnessed me making a project and trying to take photos of it at the same time! Most weekends are also spent packaging up my zines and sending them to people around the world. I like to make each purchase special by gift wrapping each purchase in Japanese washi tape, polka dot stickers and self-made stamps, with a handwritten note!
How do you go about developing new ideas for zines or projects?
As a child I was always curious about how books were made. I had so many beautiful interactive children’s books like the ones where you lift up different panels, pop-up books, books with holes and cellophane pieces to look through, puzzle books. I think this is what spurred on my love for creating my own print media so every time I make a zine or project I think about different ways the reader can interact with it. My main goal is to make something visually appealing that will put a smile on someone’s face and offer them something unique, colourful, fun and special.

Jenna's craft projects. Top: Kawaii Pop rosettes. Bottom from left: Fairy bread cards, Kawaii Pop envelope, Christmas gift wrapping (photos: Jenna Templeton).

Can you describe the process of creating a zine from first concept to final publication. 
The original way to make a zine is the cut and paste method. I sometimes do this but more often than not I make mine digitally, the same way any magazine and book is made. I begin with an idea, and then make notes regarding what will be on each page. I do like to design the covers first as it helps me create a visual path for the rest of the publication. So I guess you could say I work backwards as covers normally come last. If I’m including illustrations or collage with pictures, photos and washi tape, each material is scanned into my computer and digitally edited and designed onto the page.
You are highly influenced by design and craft coming out of Japan. Tell us about your experience of Japan and how you incorporate these influences into your own work.
After travelling to Japan a couple of years ago I was amazed and fell in love with their innovative craft, art, design and sub cultures which ignited a new creative view in me that influences a lot of my work today. I have a big collection of Japanese books and magazines. I love their page layouts that can be really colourful, fun, Kawaii (cute) busy and have cut and paste zine style elements, and then others are quite simple with beautiful photographs amongst white open page space. Don’t get me started on their wonderful mixed use of kanji, kana and hiragana typography!

Left: Japanese packaging influences Jenna's work. Right: Jenna's 'Kawaii Pop Vending' artwork (photos: Jenna Templeton)

What do you do when you have a creative block and need to 'refill the well'?  
I often get the opposite of a creative block – my problem is I have too many ideas going through my head that I find it hard to focus on just one project at a time. It can get frustrating when you have too many unfinished projects as I get too excited about a new idea and don’t get around to finishing other things I have already started.

Jenna's crafty tools (photo: Jenna Templeton)

What are your favourite tools/materials for creating?
Adobe Creative Suite, Blogger, Lumix LX5 camera, washi tape, Stabilo textas. My big craft box is filled with scrap paper, magazine cut-outs, cardboard, fabrics, Japanese food packaging, wool, tissue paper, confetti, felt, pom-poms, self-made stamps, stickers and travel mementos.


Thanks so much for this interview, Jenna. I loved hearing all about your creative process and your photos are pure eye candy! Thank you!

Head on over and check out more of Jenna's cute craftiness:
Jenna's blog is My Life as a Magazine.
My Life as a Magazine Etsy store.