There is magic and a quiet sense of tranquility in Anja Jane’s work. The Vancouver-based artist has translated her deep connection to Mother Nature into intricate art prints and postcards featuring nature scenes from North America, from the lavish jungle of Hawaii to the enchanting British Columbia coastline or quaint tree-lined Montreal streets. In her nature scenes of luscious forests, vibrant flowers, whimsical creatures and sun-kissed mountains over turquoise waters, the folksy charm of her Norwegian and Polish heritage intertwines with the breathtaking landscape of the Pacific Northwest – now home for her.
We are thrilled to welcome her to our blog to talk about her fascination with nature.
1) When and why did you decide to become a professional artist?
My background is in printed textile design, which was an industry that I loved. In 2003 I worked with amazing hand painters, creating beautiful art works. I love textiles and have always been inspired by textiles from Rajasthan, India. Within a few years, the pace of digital technologies meant we could really churn out designs. The fast cheap fashion industry is an abomination, creating more and more, feeding a bottomless pit of consumerism. It’s unethical, bad for the environment and people work in terrible conditions. So, I started listening to my heart and trained in permaculture working on a permaculture farm. Alongside this I launched my own business creating artwork – I had a gallery café space in London where I sold my art next to coffee and vegan cake. It was really fun but that’s a whole other story!
2) How did you end up in the Pacific Northwest and what made you fall in love with it?
My partner and I wanted a wild life connected to nature as we were living in London at the time. I was thinking about moving to Cornwall, a beautiful county in the southwest of England, but my partner works in film and needed to be near a city. Vancouver has a thriving film industry. It was here that Adam and I spent every spare minute hiking through beautiful temperate rain forests, kayaking with whales and sleeping in our tiny tent on top of mountains. It’s a special place and I fell in love the minute my feet stepped out of the plane.
3) We couldn’t agree more. What are your favourite spots for inspiration in British Columbia?
Alpine Meadows, the wild Pacific coast between Tofino and Ucluelet.
4) Has anyone or anything in particular inspired your creativity and artistic passion?
All my inspiration comes from immersing myself in nature. I see something that sparks an idea: the way the bees buzz in an alpine meadow or the bright yellow leaves of larches against a blue sky. The ideas bubble inside of me on a hike or when I’m kayaking, and I feel as if I am going to burst until I can translate it onto paper when I get home. Movement helps me keep the energy in my body flowing so I like to dance, hike, work with my body energetically through a kundalini practice. Meditating and being in nature creates space in my mind. This is the space and flow I believe I create from.
5) What does your work aim to say?
I would love it to communicate the joy and love I feel when I’m in nature. I hope it inspires wonder in others so they too will become passionate and protect this beautiful planet we all share.
6) What memorable responses have you had to your work?
My customers are amazing and say the loveliest things: “You make nature’s beauty come alive and allow us to relive it each time we look at your work” and “Colours are gorgeous and the critters adorable. Very Charley Harper-esque.” I love Charley Harper so that is a huge compliment!
7) Other than illustration, what are your passions in art or life?
So many! My other passion is community, bringing people together. In this pandemic I have created a wild writing group, indigenous book club, kundalini love, sacred dancing to the sunrise, tea meditation circles. I also love being in the back country, hiking, skiing or kayaking.
8) Any advice you would like to share with aspiring artists?
Do The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, start a meditation practice, dance, be in nature. Anything that gets you out of the thinking mind.
9) Are you working on any new projects you would like to share with us?
I am working on an interactive art piece for an organization dedicated to caribou recovery through conservation breeding. The art piece highlights endangered flora and fauna in British Columbia. I was shocked to learn from The Narwhal that a province that markets itself as “Super, Natural British Columbia” has more than 2,000 species of animals and plants that are at risk of disappearing – and still has no endangered species protection law. For every 10 prints sold, one will be donated to a school for children to learn and become passionate about saving the amazing plants and wildlife that make British Columbia so incredible!
10) We have started a new tradition of #artistssupportingartists where we ask every featured artist to do a shoutout to a contemporary artist who inspires them. Please nominate a fellow artist and tell us why you admire their work.
Freya Douglas-Morris. We are friends and shared a ramshackle Victorian townhouse in Brighton By the Sea when we were at art school. Her work has always taken my breath away – she paints magical landscapes that move me to tears.
To see more of Anja’s work, please visit www.anjajane.com