Interview with Australian designer and artist Jane Abma

Jane Abma is a talented art director, graphic designer and illustrator from Sydney. Dipping her toes into everything from branding to musical tour posters, Abma is an all-in-one package. We had a chat with her about launching her career, working for Miranda Kerr, and having her own studio.

LAEM: How did you get into art/design?
J: I remember being back in school and fretting about whether to study Human Biology & Pathology or Graphic Design – two very different career paths! In the end, I chose design because I had always spent my spare time illustrating or designing something and it made sense to pursue those passions. Since then, I’ve been exploring as many different areas of design as possible, by saying “Yes” to all sorts of freelance projects, even though they might scare me at the time. For anyone thinking of getting into design, I’d say work experience is the ticket. It not only allows the company to ‘road test’ you as a potential employee, it also gives you the chance to work out if you actually enjoy that area of design or not.

LAEM: What’s the best bit about your job. Illustration? Art direction? The list is endless!
J: You know, that’s something that continues to change as my industry experience and skill set grows. I do enjoy illustrating, but unfortunately it’s extremely difficult to get room in a budget for that kind of service, so these days I’m doing a lot more Creative and Art Direction. This type of work can still involve some illustration, but it’s more about umbrella branding and creatively directing advertising campaigns, which I find really exiting. Having said that, being able to illustrate gives me a huge industry advantage because I can create graphics from scratch, which usually means ending up with a more tailored and unique design. It also helps when working in Photoshop or Illustrator to create specialized graphics for digital interfaces such as web sites, iPads, iPhones and social media platforms.

LAEM: How was the experience of designing KORA for Miranda Kerr?
J: I was very much involved in the early stages of the project, so it was interesting to work closely with the initial partners on concept generation, logo development, packaging and overall brand direction. Probably the most memorable thing for me was learning how such a small team of people could get a project like that off the ground.

LAEM: Where do you like to work? Do you have a special studio space?
J: I’m one of those people who prefers to work in my own studio space rather than shared offices. I keep a pretty strict schedule which helps me to stay motivated and on track. Sometimes I’ll work from client offices, however. It really depends on the individual project. I like to have control over changing surrounding decor and artwork in order to keep inspiration coming, so having my own space is great in that respect.

LAEM: What is the best piece of art you’ve ever seen?
J: My creative influences are always changing, so while I might be in love with one artwork or artist this year, that will most likely change the next. So instead I’ll give a shout out to my favourite artist of the moment, Retna, whose calligraphy skills endlessly amaze me.


About the author

Cormack is a young writer/photographer from Newcastle who shot his first music festival at age fifteen. When he’s not writing or photographing, you’ll find him stumbling around gigs in Sydney and Newcastle or soaking up culture and coffee in Melbourne.

INVITE: 6 Aussie artists will turn Sydney's aMBUSH Gallery into a giant canvas for a night!

We've assembled a group of talented young creatives and armed them each with a new Microsoft Surface Pro 4 or Microsoft Surface Book on which to create an original piece of art. The big reveal of these works will take place on December 10 at an immersive event at Sydney's aMBUSH Gallery. If you want to come along, let us know why here.