It’s no secret that we absolutely love the art of Jana Lam…it’s whimsical, fun, and always brings us joy.
She is a talented local artist and designer that creates lifestyle products and accessories for an endless Summer. Her signature style is all about color, movement, and fun! She is also the artist behind some of our fan favorite prints — Seaflower Pineapple Sherbet, Golden Hibiscus, Sea Flower — and now Shark Tooth! Jana was the first artist that Coco Moon ever collaborated with and we are so thankful to continue to work with her after all these years.
We got the chance to talk story with Jana and got her takes on creativity, overcoming self-doubt, and what’s on the horizon for the Jana Lam Fam. Keep reading to learn more about Jana Lam, and why we are always so thrilled to collaborate with her.
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I never really meant to start a business. I got a BFA in interior architecture and design (my second Bachelor's degree- it's never too late!) and in the process fell in love with screen-printing. I envisioned myself as a freelance designer, but I didn't know how to make that happen. So here I am 11+ years later and that's kind of what I do, hahahaha.
What is your favorite print collaboration you've done with Coco Moon and why?
That's a hard one, but I think I would say Seaflower Pineapple Sherbet, mostly because I think it made a lot of people really excited and happy.
How would you describe your art style?
I like to call it meticulously whimsical- which is a little bit like my personality. I'm pretty free-spirited, but also deceptively painstaking and perfectionist. Most of my artwork is pretty simple- but also maybe deceptively so.
In the past, you've talked about your hesitancy to identify yourself as an artist. Tell us about the process of stepping into and owning that identity and what advice you might share with other women in similar situations?
It's still something I struggle with- the feeling of: am I really good enough to be called an artist?? I tell people who think they can't create things, that they should really just try, because mostly I think it's a mental block, and if you just put pencil to paper, things, maybe good things, will happen. That's kind of how I got over it. I started to sit down and put effort into making "real artwork" and I found that I was better, and had way more to offer than I thought I did.
But I still also like the idea of being called a designer, because that denotes to me the skill of being able, in a sense, to aesthetically arrange things according to your individual eye, and make them look good. I think that's why I've been relatively successful in maintaining a business, because more than being a good artist, I have got a good eye. The advice I would give to others is to not doubt yourself, and give yourself merit for your eye, your point of view. The more you create, the more you work, the more you'll have a sense of who you are, and you can hone in on that and make it your thing.
What do you love most about the creation process when starting a new design?
For me there's basically two different types of creation processes - one where I'm designing for JANA LAM, and the other when I'm designing for others. When I design for my brand I love the freedom of being able to put my spin on tropical flowers, fruits and fauna. I enjoy the challenge of trying to make something mine - to make it recognizable as the actual species, but do it differently from how it has been done before, and make it recognizable as a JL print. I actually like being given specifics and parameters for client designs. It's a different type of challenge. I'm not so free to just do whatever I want. I like being able to create something that again is recognizable as my work, but also fits the client's wants and needs perfectly. A great example is the work I did for the Japanese Airline, ANA. They wanted a pineapple design, but in that pineapple they wanted to see airplanes. It was a really fun assignment, and I think it turned out really great.
If you ever feel stuck, or in a creative rut, what is something you do to help jumpstart those creative juices again?
Oh man, that's the worst. I do most of my artwork at night when I have time. So often I get in a rut mostly because I'm exhausted and just can't make myself pick up a pencil. But that's also why I love client work. Client work comes with deadlines, so it forces me to get moving. And when I get moving I can just keep going into stuff that I want to make and create. There's nothing really specific that I do. I just have to put the pencil on paper whether I feel like it or not.
What's next for Jana Lam? Anything we should be looking out for?
We just finished moving into two new spaces, so that's something you should come check out for sure - our new retail space in South Shore Market. We've worked really hard on it, and I think it's pretty special if I do say so myself. We've got a whole bunch of collabs on the precipice- some repeats and some new- I've been working on them in the middle of moving, so I'm excited to see them come to fruition. And lastly the much anticipated new style, the JL Satchel, will be making its way to shelves soon. I hope.
Be sure to check out her website to see some of her other work, and don’t forget to shop the new Shark Tooth collection!