Jana Hamman is one half of the Jana+Koos team, but this is just a small fraction of who this creative lady is. Jana is deeply immersed in the creative and street culture scene that is rippling out of Joburg, and is constantly collaborating on new projects that span, cross and mix disciplines. So to say Jana is an ‘art director’ or even a ‘designer’ is a gross misrepresentation. Quite simply, Jana is a Creative.
How much of ‘Jana’ is in your work?
On one hand a lot, because I get very (too?) attached to every job and project we do and whatever it is I am eat-sleep-and-dreaming it at the time, but on the other hand I also always try to do what’s right for the brand / project – rather than have a design aesthetic that is recognised as mine. The kind of design and concept work we do really is strategic problem solving more than personal creative output.
Your creative relationship with Koos has spanned almost your entire career, how do you inspire each other?
We’re actually very different people with different interests and creative talents which seem to really compliment the work process and why we’ve managed to have such a solid friendship. I’m not sure how I inspire him (I hope I do, and all he gets from me is not just projected stress). Of the two of us I am the one that is always buying festival tickets, overseas trips and dress up attire on our company credit card; a sucker for any experience. He inspires me with the amount of activity he manages to fit into the few hours we have to spare; running, illustration, cycling, motorbiking, running a food stall etc. He’s also a lot braver than I am and is normally the one taking on the work that makes me want to pass out at the mere mention, but that always ends up being our best showpieces.
What influences and inspirations have helped you develop and hone your design aesthetic?
I have an unhealthy obsession with alternative fashion blogs and street / pop culture. From Japanese avant-garde, to Johannesburg’s underground creative and cultural scenes. Travel, and the chaos of big cities, and generally anything weird, offbeat and counterculture. And the colour black is a constant for me.
Since going (tandem) solo, how has your career changed and shaped itself?
It seems as though it goes through a drastic metamorphosis every 6 months that even we struggle to keep up with. It’s great to have the freedom to mould your own company into something unique that works for you – from what you do, to the way you do it. It seems right for an industry that will always change and evolve. We hit the ground running from day one, and are turning into a well oiled 2 person machine – the hard work is paying off and we are starting to be approached in the right way for the right kind of jobs. We are constantly faced with new opportunities to collaborate and branch into different business ventures and industries with new people, which was always the dream.
What three words would you use to sum up the creative industry in South Africa right now?
Confident, Unique, Relevant
You’ve worked on several collaborations, what do you enjoy about working in this way?
This is and will always be at the heart of what we do. We are a concept team, we sell strategic creative ideas – the end product of which can be anything on earth, from a concept store, to a way-finding system, to an advertising campaign, to furniture. We work with likeminded individuals who have the same vision for project outcomes, but also, we only work with people we like (that goes for clients too).
What’s been a career highlight so far?
The most recent highlight is Koos shaving all his hair from the chest up, eyebrows included, for the sake of a personal project. I don’t know how much more dedication I can ask for from a business partner / friend.
Which female creative inspires you and why?
I’m inspired by anyone who is brave enough to do what they want to (I’m especially inspired if you are doing it with babies on your arm).
Where does your seeming never-ending stream of ideas come from, and do you ever worry that it might run out?
I worry about that with every single job that comes in, I’m starting to realise that it’s a feeling I need to get used to. I think the ideas come from a lot of things; if you do the proper research and then work towards a creative strategy based on your findings, which gives you some direction based on actual insights, you have a starting point. They definitely aren’t coming from staring at the wall or your computer screen.
What traits do you believe you have that make you so good at what you do?
The same traits that make my business partner want to fire me on a daily basis; I get extremely invested, am anal retentive, never think anything we do is good enough, and am in a constant state of blind stress. I can only hope this sometimes translates as dedicated, passionate and interested. I work really hard.
Coming up is another collaborative exhibition, end of this year or beginning of next, which we’re very excited about.
And then I am working on getting a fashion brand off the ground which has been a LONG time in the making but has always been something that I knew I would pursue and need to get out of my system.
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