A few weeks ago I introduced you to one of my best friends, Leah Kilcup. I also want to introduce a woman and friend who inspires me, Jane Ammon.
Before you meet Jane, you might be asking, "Why are you doing these interviews, Jenny?"
My why behind these interviews is to inspire creative individuals like yourself to see and know that your work matters even if you are not a full-time professional artist. Especially if you are not a full-time professional artist.
You, my friend, are still an artist.
You might be a full-time mama who steals away your creative time before the sun comes up. You might be a full-time business woman who pours herself into her work, comes home at the end of a busy day, drops her briefcase on the floor, jumps into her sweatpants, and takes a few minutes to paint at night from her kitchen table. Our, you might be a full time retiree whose kids are now grown and the house is now empty, and you want to explore creativity with your new-found free time.
I believe that no matter what our role, it's important that we answer the call to create because art has the magical ability to make us feel alive. I'm inspired by women who make the time to honor that. I want you to have the opportunity to meet these makers too.
So who is Jane Ammon?
Jane is a photographer, writer, and teacher who lives in Fleetwood, Pennsylvania. I met her a few years ago after being hired by her husband, Erik Ammon, to illustrate his 2 childrens' books, The Rabbit Who Wished He Could Fly and The Lost Squirrel. Through a series of 1 on 1 coaching calls, she helped me find my own creative "why" of encouragement. (You can read more about that here.)
One thing I admire most about Jane is that she emanates authenticity and light in her work. She speaks from her soul and listens intently to others.
She creates and listens. You can't help but want to do the same.
I hope you'll give her a listen below.
Hi Jane! Let's get started. How would you describe *you*?
Whew, a loaded question, huh? Well I’m devoted, quirky, natural, and full of mercy. I’m a listener, a creator created by our creator, and I’m madly in love with being alive.
What does a typical 9-5 look like for you?
Well it depends on the day! During the college semester, on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday I’m up on campus doing what I love: teaching future teachers about how to educate students with special needs. On Mondays and Wednesdays I’m in my home office working on writing, creating or allowing myself to rest. Weekends are spent being a Mom taxi, reading books, playing games with my family or photographing amazing families!
What is your favorite way to unwind?
A cup of coffee with one or more of my people...at a table, or in the living room, or at a coffee shop or outside on my patio. My best unwinding happens when I get deep and real with my people or in prayer/meditation.
What about photography makes you feel alive?
When I make people feel heard.
When did you first pick up photography?
I picked up a camera for the first time in 2004/2005 after our son was born. I started my photography business in 2009 after we came home from China with our daughter!
Your creative outlet seems to be primarily focused on photography, but do you have other creative outlets that you enjoy?
I love to write, especially letters to others...sometimes in actual handwritten letters and many times as blog posts to my community. I always write with the intention of sharing my heart. I also love to paint my “gratitude monsters.” I make them into notecards to send letters to people! Basically making notecards of any form makes me happy! Knitting also ebbs and flows in my life as well.
How do you keep your creativity flowing? Do you have any favorite creative books or podcasts you could recommend?
I keep it going through reading and podcasts as well as talking to other artists. I love the book “Crossroads between Should and Must” by Elle Luna. I am also a die hard Brene Brown fan, so all of her books keep me grounded and inspired. My favorite podcast is “On Being” with Krista Tippet.
You’ve mentioned to me how important it is to have a supportive family in your creative corner. Can you elaborate? Who are "your people"?
My people are the backbone of my creativity. My husband, Erik, is my number one fan and he is always encouraging my creative work. I also rely on my dearest friend Lisa. She and I talk 3-5 times a week about life and making art. Our children, Connor and Maddie, continue to be my deepest inspiration as they are always interested in how my creative process works. And my wonderful gaggle of friends (artists and not artists) are my constant flow of strength.
What creative work, pieces of art, or photographs are you most proud of?
I’m the most proud of my personal projects. The first one “The Clothes They Came to Us In” was my first gallery show and that was life transformative as it taught me that I am, indeed, a writer and a poet.
The second personal project that went to a gallery show “Into The Light” is another of my proud creations because it gave me the opportunity to tell the stories of brave women I admire.
I’m also really proud of my current personal project which is a series of self portraits I’m working on through the year. I’ve created a group of women (anyone can still join!) and I send them prompts of self portraits to make every two weeks and then I make one too with them. It’s been balm for my soul this year.
What tips would you have for anyone wanting to carve out creative time for themselves?
I think it’s the best gift we can give ourselves, to create something everyday. Creativity is not about art. I firmly believe all of us create something each day. Opening the door for a stranger and making eye contact creates connection. Singing loudly in the shower creates joy for you. Writing in your journal creates a release. Holding space for someone in struggle creates peace. Do any of these and you are a creator.
You offer photography courses and creative classes. Tell us a little bit more about them.
I do! It varies, sometimes I have Intro to your Camera classes in my home and sometimes I have journaling classes online, it really varies from season to season for me. Right now what I’m focusing on is 1:1 mentorship for women who are in the beginning of their creative business, to help them find a solid place to start.
I hope to turn my self portrait prompts into a class or a book within the next year!
Where can people connect with you?
Jane, thank you for taking the time to do this interview. You kindle a creative spark within others, including me. xoxox
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Be sure to follow Jane on one the channels above, and let me know in the comments below how Jane inspires you!