After spotting the amazing work of Jen Sievers, we asked her to design the cover of our 1B5 schoolbooks for Kiwi kids in need! And this week have donated over 25,000 of those schoolbooks to 250 schools across the North Island.
Our hearts are beaming! We thought you might like to know a little more about Jen and her amazing paintings, so we asked here a few questions below.
Jen Sievers paints joy. She uses acrylic paints with fresh colours, distinctive marks, and a contemporary edge. She has a passion for the abstract but doesn't let that define her. Her varying and constantly evolving style offers something for most artistic tastes. She paints obsessively in her home studio in the foothills of the Waitakeres, New Zealand. Jen is also obsessed with the idea of joy and finding ways to help people find it. This is why she's written a book, encouraging young children to practice mindfulness.
How long have you been painting for?
I’ve been painting and creating for my whole life - although when I was a young child I preferred drawing as my expression of choice. I did take a very long break after dropping out of art school and becoming a graphic designer. Every now and then I would paint one random piece then forget about painting for a few years. I started again in FULL force one sunny Friday afternoon about 3 and a half years ago. Now I can’t seem to stop.
Why did you want to be involved in a collab with us at FRANK? And can you tell us your inspiration behind the schoolbooks you designed?
I’ve been secretly admiring FRANK. for ages. They appeal to so many parts of my brain: their beautiful designs, the fact that they encourage positive thinking and actually add to people’s daily lives in a powerful way. But most importantly, they are good people, doing good, helping out. What’s not to love? I knew I had to work with them somehow.
I must admit, as soon as I started on the schoolbooks, I froze with fear - which is unlike me! I so desperately want to make a positive impact on as many young people as I can, and this felt like the perfect opportunity to do so. I wanted to get it right. In the end, after doing a few failed designs, I sat down and let myself paint, scribble and play on the page, and I loved the result. I hope that the joy I felt creating it is felt by the children that use the books. I also thought it was a good idea to remind them to look for the good in things, with “Today Will Be Great”.
Part of your process is to ‘do what feels good’ in terms of the marks you make on your canvas, do you have the same belief in life? How do you continue to paint joy?
What a lovely question! More and more I’m leaning towards trusting my intuition, and that usually means doing what feels good. I think our subconscious has a magical way of communicating with our bodies - and if you tune in to how things make you feel, it’s usually a really good indication tof whether the situation is right for you. I wish I could apply this to the boring stuff, like laundry and getting my child to brush her teeth, but adding a mindful outlook to any of those does make them a lot more pleasant to deal with. The incredible Joseph Campbell suggests to always “Follow your bliss” to find your true life’s purpose - and I believe that in my art, books, and mindfulness, I’m following a truly blissful path.
How do I continue to paint joy?
Colour and paint make me happy. Just thinking about them gets me grinning and lights a spark in my heart chakra! Playing with colour combinations, and marveling at how every single brush stroke is one of a kind, impossible to do again - it’s a joy I can’t explain.
What keeps you coming back to the canvas? Why do you continue to paint? And how do you generate so many beautiful ideas!?
I’ve learned that the less I think, the more I feel my way through my work, the better. When I get into the mode of trying to plan things out or come up with ideas in advance, it sometimes stunts my creativity. Sometimes an idea comes, and I paint it, and it works. Other times it comes out so completely differently to what it felt like in my mind… but that’s when the fun starts! When a painting is going badly I have nothing to lose, I brutally edit and change without worrying or being precious, and that’s when most of my best paintings are born. My problem is never a lack of ideas, more a lack of time.
Who is the most influential person in your life?
Wow, that’s a tough one. Every stage of my life has had a different answer to that question. Currently, I think it’s probably my daughter. She’s five and a half, and her free spirit and fiery temper keep me constantly learning and evolving. It’s hard not to be deeply moved and affected by a person that you spend so much important time with. She pushes me to my highest highs, but also pushes my buttons like no one else can! Probably cos she’s a small version of me - determined, stubborn and never going to fit into anyone else's mould. She also inspires me creatively - I’ve been known to use her whimsical marks and unplanned compositions as a reference for my own work.
What do you love about New Zealand?
I grew up in South Africa, which was such a vibrant, wonderful place to be introduced to the world. It taught me how to understand so many type of people and contexts, and gave me my love for colour. Moving to New Zealand was a big change, but interestingly just at the right time for me. I moved here as I was about to turn 30 (ten years ago this month!), and I found myself in a place that taught me to value the wild stillness of the outdoors, to slow down and notice small things around me. I love the green here, and the freshness of everything. I love its quiet, understated soul. I love that I can go for a walk, or leave my front door open and feel completely safe. I love the West coast beaches and the Kererus that whoosh past my head in my garden. I’ve embraced New Zealand as my home now, and can’t imagine not living in my little slice of the Waitakeres.
We have been so inspired by your art, you invoke such a sense of joy in your work. What’s been one of the most joyful moments in your life?
It’s a bit of a cliche, but I’d have to say my wedding. I just couldn’t believe that SO many of my favourite people from all over the world were all in one place. I had never experienced so much love before. My husband and I, and all of our people, dancing all night with 6 foot grins across our cheeks, feeling like the luckiest people alive.
One thing we are very passionate about at FRANK is the idea that we are connected to those around us in deep ways and that’s why it really matters that we take care of our community. What role does art have to play in impacting communities? Why do beautiful things matter?
I think that art elevates people’s spirits. A piece of art that really touches you pulls you out of your head and directly connects you to the person that created it, and even more important to the magic that lives inside all of us. I’m a bit of a hippy, and I believe that inspiration comes from somewhere other than our own heads. There’s a field, or force, or energy out there, and in all of us, that we all have access to. Being able to make, or appreciate art wakes up the feeling of magic and possibility that keeps us alive and inspired. Art is wonder, and wonder gives people hope.
We’re so excited for the schoolbooks to be in the hands of kiwis kids very soon! What did you want to do when you “grew up”? And what was your favourite thing about school?
I wanted to be an artist! It took me a while to get there, with a few more sensible detours along the way, but it was always my plan. I loved art class and music class. I loved writing and English, I was also a debating nerd and did impromptu public speaking. You wouldn’t find me on the sports field - to this day the idea of any sports puts me in a cold sweat!
And finally, what’s your favourite piece of stationery? One you can’t live without!
I have piles of notebooks and diaries. For some reason every time I start a new thing, a new way of thinking, a new project, it deserves a new book. Not the most sensible way to do it, I know. With that, I have to have a super fine tipped black pen. No smudgy ballpoints for me.
Thanks to Jen Sievers & School Kit for making it possible to give some beautiful schoolbooks to kiwi kids in need.
What's the theme of your life?
It's something we have been thinking about for the last few months. Why are we ticking off our to do lists, writing our goals and working our guts out!?
We decided that 2018 is going to be all about examining and re-shaping our lives so that we bring a sense of intention and purpose to what we do. 'Setting a theme' so to speak. Not for the sake of it, but to energise us into a life that we really love living.
Why does purpose matter?
Having purpose sets the context of our lives. Without knowing why we do things, we are just ticking off tasks, creating goals and actions for the sake of it.
A purpose gives us meaning and direction. It's bigger than a goal you write down and aim for, its the theme of your life. It helps us from getting lost in the humdrum obligations of everyday life. Purpose is something we find through examining and exploring our own life. It emerges and reveals itself through the small and common themes in our lives.
Our purpose is already present in life,
we may just need to take the time to notice it.
We made our 2018 Planner to ground you in finding your purpose.
We're so glad you're here on this earth with us.
Let's make something wonderful shall we? x
Everyone is familiar with the battle of contentment and restlessness. It's something we wake up with, go to sleep with and build our lives upon. We know that if we are present and in the moment we can enjoy it's fullness and be content with what is, yet we also have a drive to move forward and keep making progress. We want more but live with the tension of 'I should be happy with what I have now'.
Both contentment and restlessness are benefitial in their own ways. On the one hand, restlessness keeps us moving forward and pushing ahead in our careers and relationships and on the other, contentment is what we want to experience once we have achieved certain milestones, like buying that house, or going on that dream holiday, but it's this last feeling that seems very fleeting and hard to hold down.
Theres always more I can do, more I can include and experience, more people I can help. Never "I am fully there, and I have it all."
Don't get me wrong, these thoughts aren't actually bad. They do serve us in many ways, as there is much to do in the world! But this 'restlessness' needs to know its place and function and we need to recognise when we are over functioning in it.
How can fullness in the moment and yearning for more coexist? I don't actually have an answer, but I do know that our tendencies (with our social media habits, the media/news and our yearning to keep achieving) that we lean toward restlessness as our motivation to keep going. Is it possible that our contentment could be more of a convincing reason to achieve more and do more?
We created the Gratitude journal to help balance the scales back to contentedness. To help us find a certain kind of deep contentment. It's all good and okay. That foundationally our lives are wonderful and deeply satisfying. This may not be how we 'feel' about it as a whole, but as soon as we move our attention from pure achievement to pure observation on what is good, perhaps our feelings will begin to follow.
What do you love about today? Is it the way the sunshine reminds you that it’s good to be alive, or simply that you’re wearing your favourite jeans? Refresh your sense of wonder in the world and appreciate again the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure and wonder.
The battle between contentment and restlessness may never be resolved, but taking the time to cultivate a sense of love for 'what is' and not just 'what will be' could be the very thing we need to bring us peace in a restless world.
"Gratitude can transform common days into thanks givings, turn routine jobs into joy and change ordinary opportunities into blessing."
– William Arthur Ward
Got a project but don't know where to start?
You're in a good company. One thing people may not know about our journey with FRANK, was that we started out knowing nothing about online business and stationery! We had little experience in running this kind of business and as a result we spent a lot of time trying to figure out what the essentials were. Thankfully over the years we have found good processes that have really benefited the growth of our business but most importantly the growth of our personal strengths. We know what we are good at and what we love doing now! This makes us look forward to every day that we get to spend working here.
We didn't want to keep our process to ourselves so we created the On Purpose -Project Planner to share with you how we plan our projects at FRANK.
Starting a project can sometimes be the hardest part. If you have a big dream or idea it can quickly seem complicated or overwhelming leaving you stunted in your motivation. Sometimes we overthink everything little thing before we actually start, while others might jump head first without planning and pausing to weigh up the impact.
This is why we created the On Purpose -Project Planner. Structured in a way so that you can discover your purpose, refine your idea and set some achievable goals, the On Purpose - Project Planner is your tool for turning an idea into reality.
It's filled with...
- Goal setting
- Questions to prompt idea generation
- 9 Months of project planning
- Monthly & Weekly Planner
- Space to reflect on what's working and what's not
- Grid Pages
- Blank Pages
- Lined Pages
- Words of wisdom to inspire you
So what are you waiting for?
Let's get started! x
Mornings can be tough, especially when you wake with that heavy feeling, knowing how much you have to achieve in one day. Whether it be tackling a big list of tasks, facing that scary meeting or just feeling low in general, starting your day with something different can be a great way to get you into the right rut for the day ahead.
At FRANK, we have got into the habit of starting our day by narrowing down our 3 most essential tasks for the day. We have used this technique to start our days for the last few years and it's been an amazing way to feel empowered and to reduce the 'overwhelm' that can come when your list is huge!
We've spent time creating the To Do notebook as way to share with you a practice that has helped us do our best. The notebook includes the top 3 exercise as well as a daily to do layout that helps you start your day right. It's not about doing as much as possible, but rather about doing what you can do, really well.
We asked around for some cool ways others start their days and got so inspired that we wanted to share them with you here:
"As a solo, independent musician I go through periods of feeling quite isolated in my work. When things get tough I need to be my own coach, and help myself. One way I do this is by sending myself emails late at night that I will see when I check my inbox the following morning. They're usually blank emails with a friendly subject, or even just reminders that include smiles, like "9AM meeting :)))) xxx" Recently I had a full day set aside for media interviews about my new album release. I just sent myself an email that said "You don't need to impress anyone."
"Cuddles with the husband and meditation! I love pre-paving the day with good, happy and clear vibes because it's easier to build momentum for a good happy day from there. I've come to love meditation and it's such a part of me now. I do feel the difference when I don't do it - I'm more susceptible to feeling grumpy, stressed or be reactive to things when I don't. When I start the day clear, happy, calm and feeling good it's easier to see things from a broader perspective throughout the day. I'm also mindful of what I allow myself to think in the morning - I try not to think of worries, problems or look at the news in the morning. I believe it matters what momentum I get going in my mind when I start the day."
"I really cherish having lots of time before [ my husband ] goes to work. We have an hour and a half together where all we really do is eat breakfast and drink coffee (it takes like a minute for each of us to actually get ready for work, so that's never a time-sucker).
I'm [also] trying to spend time in meditation/prayer/journalling before I start my 'work day'. As the day goes on all the things I wanted to do seem to go out the window with the pressure or work and unexpected extras. So to be able to make time for mediation before all that happens, and to give myself some care, is really beneficial."
"I start with coffee!!!!! And usually a workout. I love doing high intensity training before 7am to get me pumped up for the day."
Olivia Moor, Jewellry Designer
"I love a good, mindful stretch in the morning, it gently wakes me up and makes me feel light and focused."
Corinne Tan, Photographer
"I go for a swim at the london aquatics centre then go get the best flat white in town nearby and sit in the park and write in my notebook!"
You got this. x
My schooling days were full of scratched knees, silly crushes on boys, swapped lunches, and fresh new stationery at the beginning of each year. Now, my knees stay pristine and untouched, my crushes are on just one boy, and my lunches are saved just for me. The one thing that hasn’t changed, though, is new stationery - waltzing into my life at the beginning of every important milestone.
I am a self confessed notebook hoarder. There, I said it! And, I know I’m not alone. Ever since I was 8 years old I have been writing, drawing, and recording my life in notebooks. This has created in me a habitual need to write down, unpack and stand back from my thoughts, ideas and feelings. To be able to write and read has been one of the greatest privileges ever afforded to me; one that many people are unfamiliar with.
As stationery lovers, our hearts break at the knowledge that many kids in our community are starting school a step behind their peers – no excitement over fresh new school books, no first page to fill with their neatest handwriting, nowhere to document all the things they’ve learnt.
Over 1 in 4 kiwi kids are living in poverty - the basics, like schools books, a luxury many families can’t afford.
Since our last giving day in 2016, we had our eyes set on doubling our giving amount; so we are thrilled to announce our partnership with School Kit and Go Sweet Spot (two awesome organisations we’ll talk more about later) to bring 20,000 school books to 200 schools on the first day of term two this year. If you’re not up to play with the dates of school terms – this is today!
We are thrilled to announce 20,000 school books have been donated to 200 schools on the first day of term two this year.
If you’re not up to play with the dates of school terms
– this is today!
Being part of the global FRANK community, you know that we are big on beautiful stationery with a purpose. What you may not know is that by choosing FRANK as a medium to plan, scheme, and dream with - you have given a school kid the opportunity to do the same!
Each item you’ve bought from us has allowed a school book to be donated to a child in need. This has enabled us to give over 45,000 school books, in the past few years, to those knee scrapped, boy/girl crushing little humans running about on the playgrounds of New Zealand.
In the spirit of gratitude, we would like to thank our partners School Kit; who have cleverly helped us identify which schools need the books the most, and Go Sweet Spot; who’ve generously helped us deliver the books to the schools in need. But, our most important partners have been YOU! As you write in your FRANK notebook at your local cafes, in your work meetings, and your university lectures - imagine little hands learning to write their first sentences, the mathematicians in the making solving complicated times tables, and, most of all, the beautiful young minds whom you have inspired and equipped for a better life.
Thank you for using FRANK in the pursuit of your dreams, the writing of your thoughts, and the making of your plans! Keep going - you’re helping kiwi kids do the same.
Jess (FRANK Founder)
Usually at the beginning/end of a year we like to set some new personal resolutions, of things we would like to change or achieve. This year however, we really like who we are becoming and decided instead to focus our year on being as present as we can in the midst of life.
For the past two weeks our garage/office has been filled to the brim with 10,000 books that we are getting ready to give away this week. While it’s always in my mind that for every book we sell, we are going to then give a school book away, it becomes much more real when I have a huge pile of school books staring me in the face.
A great written review of FRANK's 2016 Journal by Jemma Simple Life.
I almost added this journal to my January favourites, but I thought it deserved a post of its own..