It has been an exciting time for designer Jan Avellana: not only was Jan’s art chosen for the cover of the UPPERCASE Surface Pattern Design Guide and featured within, but after Windham Fabrics spotted her work in UPPERCASE, she was asked to develop a fabric collection with them. We are thrilled for Jan and honoured to have played a part in Jan’s success—just a month after this issue was released!
Congratulations, Jan! We’re so happy to hear that you’ll be partnering with Windham Fabrics. We’d love to know more about you. Where did you grow up? What was your childhood like? Did you grow up in a creative family?
I was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, the third of three daughters to my parents—second generation Japanese Americans. My childhood was was…rough. My parents met with life’s realities hard—a tsunami that claimed our brand new house, a fire and a failed family business and then serious illnesses and hospitalizations for both my mom and dad, and even a time of being homeless. By the grace of God we survived it all, and somehow out of all that chaos, I grew up to become an artist, thanks in large part to my parents, who are both latent artists. My mother had a love of fashion and sewing and my father—a closet writer—came from a long line of accomplished writers and artists. He also has a lovely voice and beautiful handwriting, the kind that you don’t find anymore. But anyway, I didn’t discover my own way to the arts until I was in college. I’m a late bloomer!
Was there a moment in your life when you realized that you wanted to pursue being an artist?
There were always inklings. Looking back, I think my earliest knowing was when I was a child—I loved writing. By the time I was in college I realized I wanted to pursue the arts as a career, so I majored in the fine arts and practiced graphic design for several years…but there was always something missing. Then three things happened nearly all at once: I stumbled upon a website called “Another Girl at Play” and read the interviews of 25 women all thriving in their creative lives, I met an artist-pastor name Dale Vallejo-Sanderson with the God-given gift of counselling, and a friend gifted me with a book by Parker Palmer called “Let Your Life Speak”—lifechanging. Those three things were each a strong epiphany—and I knew—OMG, I’m an artist too! It only took me a decade-plus, a few thousands miles (and tears), two college degrees and two careers to figure this out!
I can say now, without a doubt, that I am an artist through and through. This acceptance has only come recently…in the last ten years or so and what a relief it’s been. The more freedom I give myself to pursue my artistic passions, the happier I am! I’ve finally accepted that I am happiest when wholeheartedly immersed in creative play!
How did you first come across UPPERCASE magazine? How would you describe your relationship with it? How is it part of your creative life?
My relationship with UPPERCASE magazine is like having the hugest crush on Robert Pattinson from afar, knowing that you’ll NEVER get him to even glance in your direction, but crushing over him anyway. (Not that I get what all the hoopla is over that guy, lol!) But seriously, I’ve only ever lurked on the UPPERCASE website and blog, oh, hundreds of times. I’ve only ever drooled over the beautiful covers and the featured illustrators online. I’ve only ever read through the submission guidelines and participate invitations…er…a few (hundred) times, and I might have fantasized about treating myself to a subscription one day when I “make it”!
UPPERCASE magazine and their artists are what I aspire towards. I am in total and utter awe of the artists you feature. If UPPERCASE magazine and I were to meet up in person, I’d be the goofy misfit in the corner hoping for an autograph…but I’d have a really cool set of pens on me!
To read more heartfelt answers from Jan as well as an interview with Mickey Krueger, the president of Windham Fabrics, please download a special digital edition of the UPPERCASE Surface Pattern Design Guide.
The Guide is 58 pages and contains all the content of the print version as well as these bonus interviews.
Simply sign up for our email list for access to the guide!
FYI if you're an UPPERCASE magazine subscriber or you're already on our newsletter email list, we sent you a Guide download link yesterday so please check your inbox. thanks!
We've made this digital edition of our Surface Pattern Design Guide available as a free download in order to promote the amazing talent of our readers and to provide valuable industry advice to those hoping to break into a career in surface pattern design.
UPPERCASE is a print magazine and always will be. We just like to share good things!