Two Artist Spotlight posts within the span of three short weeks? Yes, we really are that lucky! Meet Bodil Jane: one of our newest debut artists at Red Cap Cards. Bodil lives and works in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Her work fosters the same easygoing and colorful mentality that Amsterdam offers, with a dash of capriccio and fun. Read on to learn more about what inspires her (Asian supermarkets, among other things!), her creative process, and the best advice she received when she was just starting out.
Tell us about your life in Amsterdam. What are your favorite parts about where you live?
I have to say that I’m kind of living a perfect life in Amsterdam! I live in ‘Oost.’ It’s the East of Amsterdam. I live in a beautiful street with old houses and a lot of plants outside and childeren playing. My bike is parked in front of the door and it’s only a 5 minute ride to my studio. My (shared) studio/workspace is situated along the famous Amstel River. It’s one of the most beautiful places in Amsterdam. And in the summer it’s busy with locals swimming in the river and BBQ-ing along the side. It’s funny, since for a few years people have just used it as some kind of bathing place. They just walk around in swimming suits in the middle of a busy street. I always feel lucky when I’m biking from my home to my studio.. I just love this lifestyle. It feels a bit like a small town
I see that you attended the School of Design in Copenhagen. That sounds like a dream come true. Do you have any aspirations to live somewhere else again?
Well, I have to say Copenhagen still appeals to me! Everything is beautiful there! It is very very similar to Amsterdam. If I would have to choose another place to live, it would be there. Or Berlin maybe… I like it when I can bike around like in my home city. Because of my busy job I haven’t had much time for traveling lately. In the spring I will go to Japan with my bf. I can’t wait. One of the things I like the most of being a freelancer is having the freedom to live anywhere. It gives me a feeling of freedom that is priceless! I could go to Bali and live there, or just move to Barcelona if I want. But, at the moment I still love it here!
What does a typical day look like for you?
I’m very slow in the morning. I take a lot of time for getting up. I like to read or watch the news in the morning. When I’m very lazy I even watch a documentary in the morning. I clean up my place before I leave. I like things to be organized. After biking 5 minutes I arrive at my studio. Normally I have a quick chat with my studio mates and another coffee. During the day I’m very concentrated and very productive. I prefer working only a few hours and completely go ‘in the zone’. In that time I do a lot! I can do a lot of work in a short time when I’m concentrated. Sometimes I even forget to lunch. But I try to take about an hour time to lunch. We have a courtyard here, so when the weather is nice, we eat in the garden. Sometimes I work late and have dinner at my studio (sushi!) but most of the time I’m exhausted by 5. Creating for hours like that is very tiring I think! After that I meet with a friend, go to my boyfriend or go home early to prep a big meal and go to yoga. I like relaxed evenings during the working week.
Did you always want to be an artist? Did you have any other aspirations?
Yes, I’ve always wanted to be an artist. Or actually I’m not sure if I feel that word applies to me. I make applied art. I feel like I’m almost more like a communicator. Communicating my own or the clients ideas. I didn’t have other aspirations. But I think that has to do with the example that my parents gave me: they are also freelance illustrators / artists.
What is your work process like?
When a job comes in I carefully read the brief and do some research. This could be images, reference pictures and colour research. Sometimes I need to read more about the subject (for a newspaper for example). I do quick pencil sketches and send them over to the client. If they like them, I go straight to colour. Working with a mixed media technique: watercolours and digital techniques. As I said, I work very concentrated. I’m not quickly distracted. It’s not like I’m sitting and dreaming in my studio all day, waiting for inspiration ‘to come’. I feel like, it’s more of a job for me. I just make it work every day.
What inspires you most? In work? In life?
One time there was a girl who wanted to be a designer asking me (almost desperate): “But, WHERE do you get inspiration from?” I don’t really understand that. It has always come very natural for me! I feel inspired all the time by a lot of things: botanical gardens, museums, flea markets, Asian supermarkets, documentaries, old book shops, fabrics. I can go on for ever! I think during the day I just pick up small bits everywhere. When I work, I just release the them! In life and work I’m mostly inspired by other people (not their art works, but their attitude).
What is your favorite piece of work you’ve created?
Oh that’s a hard one! It’s like picking a favourite baby! But most of the time I’m most happy with the latest work I have created, which is now ‘Moroccan Dreams’ (see below). Last weekend I went through all of my old drawings, and there were also some of those that I really liked. When I see them I can recall the same feeling as I had when I made them.
What was the best piece of advice you were given when starting out?
I have learned that there will not be a point where you feel 100% happy about everything you made, your website, your portfolio or yourself. You will always feel a little insecure about something. But it’s not a reason to not get your work out there. At one point you just have to go for it, and stop doubting yourself. You can’t keep on hiding your art untill a certain moment appears where you feel 100% happy about it. Because that moment will not come.
Do you have any advice for up-and-coming artists and illustrators?
The same one as I got.
Favorite mediums to work in?
Watercolours, gouache, Indian ink.
Who are your role models in terms of art or otherwise?
I don’t have specific ones. I have a lot of friends and creative people around me that inspire me and help me out sometimes. Also, my parents, who have showed me that the freelance life is possible and you can be successful doing it.
If you didn’t work as an artist, what would you be doing?
Probably something that involves yoga and cooking.
Any upcoming projects you’d like to share?
I’m very excited about designing a small collection for Dutch design brand, &Klevering.
So many! I like to do a lot more products, including a rug and fabrics and fashion!