Who are you and what do you do / make / sell?
My name is Jen Mckenzie – I am an Interior Designer, Artist, Illustrator and all round DIY-er. I am the creator, owner, designer, production manager, manufacturer, sales and dispatch at Jen Jen, where we make small collectable art pieces and are slowly building up the brand to encompass all things home décor.
Did you always know that you were headed in this direction – how did you get where you are today?
I have always been a creative person, but it was after I studied Interior Design that I realized what I wanted to achieve. The road I have been on to get me to where I am today has been so fun – I have met some of the most insanely talented people and have designed things that I never thought I would get the opportunity to do. This has superseded anything I ever could have dreamt of doing.
What makes your work / products / services unique?
My products / designs have a very specific signature style. The square block concept is something that you are seeing everywhere these days, so I work really hard to ensure my designs are original and unique and that the quality of the print itself is impeccable.
Where do you look for inspiration?
There are so many different avenues for inspiration. But, mainly, my inspiration comes from what’s on-trend (colors, patterns, shapes, imagery… etc) the quotes I come across, typography, the people I meet and the “corny answer” – everything that we are surrounded by in South African. My sketch book gets filled with all sorts of new ideas after each day’s adventure.
Who are your creative idols?
I wouldn’t say I have any idols per say, but there are so many people whose work I find absolutely incredible and I only wish I could come up with concepts and pieces that are as creative and interesting. Oliver Jeffers , Marc Johns , Danielle Kroll and Sean McCabe .. to name a few, looking at the work they produce inspires me to push my style further then my sketchy black lines
Where do you like to hang out – what are your favorite spots in your town/city/country?
My absolute favorite is to ‘escape’ the city and go back home to the Natal Midlands – I’m a farm girl. But when I’m hanging out in Durbs I love to go to coffee shops ( New on the block – Savior Coffee Co. – you have to visit! ) Vintage and Antique stores – I have an obsession with blue and white teacups – or Market on Marriott Road, they have the best food, best wine and best vibe and its 2 minutes down the road – how convenient.
Given the opportunity, where would you like to travel/explore?
I would love to explore every single inch of Europe. The history and the Architecture – swoon!! France, Italy, Greece and Spain in particular. If I could click my fingers and go back in time – it would be back to the Trevi fountain eating Gelato
How does a typical day for you play out?
After hitting the snooze button a few too many times, it’s a mad dash to get to my day job as an Interior designer / Space Planner at Cecil Nurse business furniture – where I work from 8 – 4:30. Once I’m home and back in my studio I work on new concepts for designs, freelance design work and making sure all my orders get made up. Then it is back to bed – the best place to be!
With a day all to yourself (no meetings, distractions, to-do-lists) and an unlimited budget, what would you get up to?
I would sleep in – no questions asked. And after that, I am not really too sure because I quite like having a to-do list, but that unlimited budget would buy me a lot of shoes.
If you could have any other profession, what would it be?
A Secret Agent!! But I would never have it any other way!
Where can we stalk you?
What does your workspace / studio look like?
I like to think of it as Organized Chaos. My studio is in the third bedroom in my apartment, in an old Art Deco building – so it already has plenty character. The walls are dark blue ( Plascon Dusk of Day – get involved, best color!) and there is a picture rail that runs the perimeter of the room, so anything and everything that can be hung from it – is hung from it. I work at a vintage ball and claw dressing table, my cupboard is full of boxes of stock, and I have a big workbench where all the prints are made up. This room is where the Magic happens.
What it the work/design/product/project you are most proud of to date?
It’s hard to select just that one thing I’m most proud of – I’m always surprised and proud of the way my customs prints turn out. But most recently I am most proud of my Stand at the ECR House and Garden show and a sketch from my 15 day drawing challenge, after its sell out performance at the I Heart Market on Saturday.