What do you love most about being an artist/designer?
I guess I love the freedom to create, to realize a vision/ an aesthetic and to have that be made into a piece that someone will cherish is very special.
Your designs are instantly recognizable - did you have a clear vision of your style & brand from the beginning?
I can’t say that I’ve been so clear on what my style or brand would be but rather, I just started creating what appealed to me and one thing has lead to another so now, 38 years in, I guess I create what my husband has coined as “ classic with a twist” and the “twist” is either through color, unexpected asymmetry or materials. In the beginning, I worked with all different materials, some traditional, some trendy but each group that I created was a necessary step to become who I am and what I make today.
Are you sometimes tempted to make something completely different? If/when you have spare time, do you have side-projects on the go?
I’m always tempted to make something completely different as long as it doesn’t feel forced or that I’m working too hard at it. I’ve learned to trust my instinct, to know when something’s coming together or not. There isn’t a lot of time to “play” in how I’ve structured my schedule - but each time I open my stone trays and put pen to paper, I am creating and am happy.
You've built Janis Kerman Design into the type of business many independent designers dream of... What decisions/approaches helped contribute to your success?
I guess along with the hard work, I’ve always had the support of family- so when the work days became extended, they cut me the necessary slack to allow me time to get things done. I’ve been sele
ctive about which shows I’ve participated in, but, the biggest decision and career path changer was when I calculatingly decided to expand into the US market in the early 80’s. There was a lot to learn and even today, the rules change constantly so you just have to be on top of who your market is, foster close relationships with the galleries who represent you – be there for them – all of these actions make you and your work stand out which in such a huge market, is essential.
Working and living in Canada used to mean reaching a smaller audience, but the Internet has broadened our audience and the way the public interacts with artists and makers. How has the Internet changed your practice?
To be honest, it was my husband who pushed me to set up my first website. The idea was and is to have an online presence in the form of a website that can act as a portfolio. I do not sell from it, but rather list the galleries that represent my work and should I be contacted by a potential client, I always ask where they live and if they are in any of the cities in which I have representation, I refer them to the gallery directly. If they aren’t in an area I am represented, I make sure that they didn’t already see my work at a specific gallery… all this to make sure that I don’t step on my galleries’ toes. I guess the Internet has allowed people to find me who wouldn’t necessarily have had knowledge of me before.
What do you wish you had more time for?
I am a very busy person and keeping the balance between work and play is difficult for me. I wish I had more time to explore in my own city…take the day to go to the museum, stroll the streets/ shop and see what’s out there. Although, with that being said, I am free to do all of that but just don’t! I love being in the studio but as time has gone on, I am glad that I have become more disciplined NOT to work all the time. I enjoy closing the studio door at the end of the day and turning off.