STORIES & INSIGHTS
OCTOBER 20, 2022
Jan, appreciate you joining us today. Can you open up about a risk you’ve taken – what it was like taking that risk, why you took the risk and how it turned out?In the beginning of my career I chose a path that wasn’t really a path but a faint voice of something in the distance. When I had my kids I was working in the recording industry. Music was a foundational element for me but the business itself did not work well with motherhood. So I found myself in another area of entertainment, the movie business. To continue my passion for music, I crafted a space for it in the lives of my children and the family home-an organic expression of how I wanted to raise my boys. I followed my vision, put my three boys in Suzuki music training and proceeded to unfold the path for music for young people in real time. I learned along with them and started developing projects that always included music- The Real Children’s Theatre of Texas, Tribes Music Program for At-Risk Youth, and a long run at writing music for girls’games. I found that I was a pretty good song writer thanks to my esteemed collaborators. I licensed my songs but found that my joy was not only in the creating of music but in the execution of stories with music at heart. I always said that my big projects were just an elaborate plan to write more songs. Eventually I branched out to become a writer of books and a producer of all kinds of media for kids. The risk? When there’s no obvious path, you are always hearing “show me” from everyone. That makes me a lifelong risk taker.
Jan, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?I am a writer/producer. ( Mattel, Disney Imagineers, Simon & Shuster, Random House Kids, Dora the Explorer, Clueless, Girl Games and more) That title has meant different things over my thirty years in the entertainment business though. I have followed the arc of the technology ( analog to digital-games to web3) and entertainment content distribution ( Movie Studios to Record Companies to Indie direct to consumer). Through the years my north star was always the nurturing of creative young people, especially young teens and girls. Like most artists, I care deeply about what I create as well as the people who consume it. It’s easy to get sucked into fame-seeking. It is harder to nurture and grow a life-long career in the arts. I have had as many failures as successes. What I am most proud of are the generations of kids I mentored who grew up and became artists themselves. People need role models for a career that requires a tough skin and a hard-core dream seeker mentality. I have lived through many types of “new tech” and am proud to have been and still be a risk-taker in how to use technology to push the envelope of my craft. These days I am embracing WEB3, NFT’s, AR, UnReal, and storytelling across formats. My newest company- Aventurine Studio One- is developing my 8 books into AR games, avatar fashion, and 3D streamed music performances in the metaverse.
What do you think is the goal or mission that drives your creative journey?Inherent in everything I write is the search for meaning from within. Sometimes this goes against the grain for many brands that focus only on outer expressions. It is my experience that if approached with respect, youth will rise to the ideas and bring forth so much more. My particular goal is to speak the languages of music, art, and fashion to a young audience who deeply cares about things like family, friends, social justice, mental wellness and the natural world. All of my stories have these elements in their DNA. With my Aventurine Franchise, I am storytelling across forms like games, music, digital fashion, user generated content, and at last the traditional platform of books. My goal is to tell the kinds of stories that can inspire preteen and young teens through their personal journey to become more courageous in their expression of themselves in the real world.
In your view, what can society to do to best support artists, creatives and a thriving creative ecosystem?Society can start to value artists beyond commerial interests. Creatives are bringing forth the unseen, the unknown, and untold stories. The Creative Economy is not just a commodity, it is a social movement! And it is so exciting to see the tools for young artists’ skills and talents becoming democratized. Self expression is a human right. When I look at the numbers of followers artists and creators can get on TikTok, I don’t just think about the money they make but the level of human acceptance (the love) of their creative expressions. We all came into this world dying to be heard and this generation has it all- the tools,the platform, and the support.
Image Credit: Casey Byars/Evan Bozarth