Creative Boss :: Jen Darr of Jen & Jennifer

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I'm super excited to kick off a brand new feature on the blog where I go behind the scenes of some of the supremely talented creatives I'm lucky enough to cross paths with and find out all about how they stay productive, get their goals and make it happen in their business!

On that note, please allow me to introduce you to the wonderful Jen Darr, founder of illustration studio, Jen and Jennifer.

Jen is an Australian artist, currently based in London who at the beginning of 2014, after working in the Australian Fashion industry for 10 years, made the move to London to spend a few years traveling and seeing life from a fresh perspective.

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Jen and Jennifer was born out of reaction to starting over in a new country and a desire to live a fulfilled and creative existence on her own terms. 

The story behind her studio is rather fun - Jen and Jennifer stems from the way she's intentionally infused both sides of her personality: the creative and the serious, the left and the right; the Jen and the Jennifer.

So lovely, right?!

Jen's work is absolutely divine. Her creations are all clearly inspired by the things she loves, and I'm so excited to introduce you to her exquisite creations.

I know you're going to love learning more about Jen's creative journey and seeing her utterly gorgeous space from where all of the magic happens - let's dive in!


Tell us a bit about you, your biz and how you got started.

I was born and raised in Brisbane, Australia where I studied fashion design and graphic design. When my husband and I moved to the UK in 2014 I had been working as a fashion designer and feeling burnt out.

London was a great chance to rethink the direction I was taking and what I really wanted to do.

After I started working for an online boutique doing content creation and illustration, I started getting commission requests from customers and also my newly launched Instagram account.

I went full-time freelance in 2017 after moving to Melbourne, where I also launched my online print store.

Now that I am back in London I hope to relaunch my store and continue working with clients around the world.

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What does a typical day look like for you?

The thing I love most about my job is not having every day look the same. In saying that the vast majority are spent sketching away at my desk!

Since becoming full time freelance I've learnt the best times of day for certain activities; I do my best creative work in the afternoon, so I plan any client meetings or calls for the morning.

This is also when I answer emails and do quotes/concept sketches and any business admin, that way I have a (relatively) uninterrupted block of time to paint afterwards.

Also, because of the short daylight hours in London over Winter, I'll use the morning light take any photos or create content for my social media and then use the evening hours to edit photos or do photoshop work.

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Do you have a morning routine or any rituals that help set your day up for success?

I can't function without breakfast (I'm a serious sufferer of "hangry") so I always start my day with a relaxed breakfast while I get dressed and check emails and social media.

They best way I've found to set myself up for success is to actually plan my to-do list the night before.

That way I know when I wake up what my plan for the day is and I can hit the ground running.  It also helps me switch off at night knowing that I’m organised to start the next day

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How do you plan your goals? Take us through your annual planning process (if you have one) and how this plays out on a monthly, weekly and daily schedule.

I never tend to look more than a couple of months into the future as my business is largely built on client commissions, which are never predictable.

I might have general goals such as the kind of clients I'd like to work with or any print ranges but it works best for me to stay more open to the opportunities which come along.

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What are your favorite tools and apps for staying organized?

I’m really old school in that I prefer to write everything down with pen and paper. I have a weekly to-do list / calendar on my desk and then also a daily to do list which I write out the night before. 

Do you use a digital or paper diary?

I don’t use a diary at all! I designed my own monthly and weekly calendars and these are stuck to wall in my studio. I prefer having it laid out for me to glance at rather than hidden inside a diary.

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How do you organize and tackle your to-do list?

I pick 2 or 3 “must dos” and then put the rest in an “if I can” section so I don’t split my attention too much and end up achieving nothing.

I do find that as I work with client deadlines it makes it easy to prioritize my work load and I just fit my other responsibilities around those set dates

What are your favorite stores or tips for decorating your workspace?

My creativity is very effected by my environment, so I try and make my desk a lovely space where I want to be. It needs to be practical and tidy but also pretty!

I love having a bunch (or 3!) of flowers on my desk, some candles and a moodboard. I also have photos and favorite trinkets.

Moving countries 3 times in as many years has taught me to be quite picky with my homewares and clothes.

My rule is If I wouldn't take it with me if I picked up and moved tomorrow then I shouldn't buy it.

It's also a bit of a reaction to our throw away society that I want to be surround by only things that bring me joy or have real meaning.

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Best advice for staying productive and getting sh*t done?

I've learnt that looking after yourself makes a big difference to how you function so getting a good nights' sleep and giving yourself permission to take breaks is key.

That way you can really focus and be in your work 100% when you need to be. I'm also a huge list maker, seeing my tasks written in black and white stops my brain from going into overdrive thinking I have more to tackle then I do. One step at a time .

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Favorite way to re-charge your creative-juices? 

Talking to friends and family or taking a wander around London does it for me every time! I love being surround by all the history, stunning buildings and the buzz of the city.

I prefer to get away from my screen as much as possible so down-time on the weekends with my husband or traveling to new places also help to keep my creativity flowing.


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