Since I was a child I’ve had a keen interest in art and 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.” 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 five years ago, around the same time I started my first blog My Life as a Magazine.
My blog allowed me to showcase some of my work and ideas. I began self-publishing zines on subjects I wanted to read. 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.
When I’m not working at CHILD, I produce craft and travel publications. I sell my zines and design stationery in my online store. I’ve recently launched a craft DIY website called DIY Kiosk. On the website you can find tutorials on how to make lots of fun things, like a fairy bread piñata, snail mail ideas and party crafts.
I have self-published four zines: My Life In Biscuits, an illustrated biscuit memoir, Little Book of Mt Masking Tape, crafty ideas and projects using my favourite craft tool Japanese washi tape, Japan in a Collection, a travel guide with a twist that reviews shops through souvenirs, and Happy Mail Day, a visual guide to snail mail and making your own handmade stationery and mail kits. I love stationery, 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.
I have a Bachelor of Electronic Arts degree. The degree included units in communication, design, art, film, editing and music technology. I also learned to use design and art computer programs since I was small. It was second nature to learn how to use most of the newest design computer programs myself when they were released.
I’d describe my style as colourful, fun, playful, with a mix of Kawaii (Japanese cute) and a sense of 80s nostalgia – very child-friendly. In every piece of my work I like to bring an element of fun, quirky and cute with big splashes of colour. I developed a love for ‘celebration crafts’, as I wanted something unique and special to give to people 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.
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 mindfulness and fosters my inner calm. It allows me to tune out of worries and concerns and makes me 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!
All aspects of my life inspire me: swatches of bright colours, fun prints, travel adventures, mementos, store fronts, pretty product packaging, the 80’s, 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.
On the days when I’m not working at CHILD Mags, I’m normally packing orders of my zines and stationery to send to customers. I’m also creating craft tutorials for my craft website, DIY Kiosk. This would begin with me making the DIY item and photographing the steps at the same time, styling a fun photo and photographing the finished project. I would then do post production on all the photos and write up the DIY post that is than uploaded to my website. I aim to do one project a week.
I like to work in a space that has good natural light, as it is great for photographing projects. My temporary 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.
When it comes to writing and designing my publications, 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 (an editorial plan) 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. I guess you could say I work backwards, as covers normally come last in magazine land.
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.
A big career challenge was a team redundancy 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. 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.
From the experience, I learned that only you can create your own opportunities – so seek them out. I live by this every day.
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 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. 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.
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. I have had my work featured at a stall at the MCA Zine fair, and Sydney Rocks Pop-Up Project. I’ve also just recently been profiled in a Snail Mail book published by Hardie Grant.
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!
What does it mean to you to be an Australian creative? I love the sense of community you can feel being a creative in Australia. There are always lots of craft workshops and exhibitions being held around most Aussie cities. There are also many amazing markets and events created like Finders Keepers, MCA Zine Fair, Supergraph, Etsy craft party and the Big Design Market that give Aussies the opportunity to showcase their work and meet each other. There is so much talent in Australia, so it is also wonderful that other countries are now looking to Aussie creatives for inspiration.
Jenna Templeton, 31, works on the digital content at Copeland Publishing, which includes the website, social media and this blog. She lives with her husband, Ryan, in the lower Blue Mountains, NSW. You can keep up to date with her crafty adventures via her website and check out her makes on her online shop and etsy. You can also find her via Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.
Words + Photography: Jenna Templeton