Improved by Me is a side project that Jessica Olander started doing when she desperately needed to find her way back to creativity again. Jessica started drawing on ceramics that she had at home; cups, plates, planters, and when she had gone through everything at home she started looking in the recycling room where she lives, at flea markets and second-hand stores.
Today we chat with Jessica about her brand and what inspires her.
What was the inspiration for Improved by Me?
The idea came from a need to be creative on my own terms. I work as a graphic designer and work for clients and am, therefore, creative on their terms. I needed something for me. No ambition and no pressure; only the joy of creating something. After doing it for a while I realised I could use this project to inspire others to use what they have at home and (re)make it into something beautiful in a quick and simple way. Once again that old planter/vase/cup that you put in the back of your cupboard could be at the centre of your home again!
You’re a graphic designer by day so creativity is your job, but what inspires you?
Anything can inspire me. I work in teams and collaborations inspire me the most – to elaborate on other peoples ideas or make others engaged in my ideas and create something together. Other things that inspire me are people who choose to do things differently than expected and question the status quo – it can be in business, products, services, personal life or creativity. Illustrations and graphic design is of course a big source of inspiration as well. It’s what I do.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I start by keep my eyes open for ceramics at flea markets and second-hand shops. After finding a piece with a shape that I like (mostly planters, candle holders and lamp foots) I it decide what to draw. For instance If it looks like the shape of a face I draw a face or if it will look nice with a graphic pattern I draw that instead. I clean the item first before I start to draw. I usually start with my favourite pen: a black Uni Paint Marker that gives a really nice finish on ceramics. I have different sizes so for large areas I use the big one and for details I use the fine one. I’ve also used ceramic paint (that you can buy at your local craft shop) on ceramics that can be used for food or drink and made gradients.
Where would you like to take your remaking journey?
I’d like to inspire others to use remake as a way to foster their creativity and find new love for their old things.
What does your typical working day look like?
I work as an independent designer with developing concepts and design for digital services and products. I work in a team with UI & UX designers, developers, project managers and information architects. I love being in a team and working on stuff together! My work week is Monday-Thursday; I have Fridays off for doing what ever I feel like doing. Drawing, visiting museums or reading – anything to make sure my creativity gets what it needs. Being an independent I need to find my own way to have a sustainable business and since my creativity is the most important of all it’s crucial to nurture it!
My remake-project is something I do to spark my creativity and it’s very lust driven. I don’t do it if I don’t feel like it – and this is crucial. Since this is something I do to be more creative it can never feel like something I must do.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Several and hopefully they are not trends but part of a bigger movement for change! The cradle to cradle-movement and circular economy is something that has inspired me a lot and the same with #metoo and the recent women’s marches.
What is the one book that you recommend people read?
How to be an explorer of the world by Keri Smith.
What is the one piece of advice you would give someone starting a sustainable brand?
Make sure that it’s something that you’re passionate about and make sure to build the business so it’s not just a sustainable brand but sustainable for YOU. What do you need to keep up your creativity, energy and focus?
Connect with Jessica