Who are you? Where are you from?
Lisanne Janssen, 01/23/1988, Netherlands currently living and working in Maastricht
Describe your work in a few sentences. Why is art so important to you?
I graduated as a Graphic Designer, but my heart lies mainly in Illustration. As my graduation project I’ve backpacked through Scandinavia for one month, and made etchings of the places I’ve felt at home. My theoretical research was therefore about ‘home’, and the impact of ‘place’ and nature. I bought a small amount of vintage lockets, as a talisman to keep home close to your heart. I love the fact a product has already lived, and thus carries a story. Instead of family photos, in the bottom part of the locket you can find one of my etchings. In the upper part you find the word ‘home’ typed with my grandmother’s typewriter. This word can be changed, if desired so, into a word which has a special meaning for the customer.I also add handwritten notes with a personal text. This way I have close contact with my clients: often they send me a story about the person for whom the necklace is, and why they choose a particular text. Despite the fact it takes me a lot of time, it means a lot to me to have this personal contact, which often gives me a warm feeling of connection. It’s nice to really know where your products go to, and what their own personal stories are.
In September 2011, I’ve spent a month in Nepal, where I’ve visited several fair trade organizations. I’ve visited the homes of the directors, but also the employees. Through one of the organizations I met Raju, a silversmith from Lalitpur. He produces my bracelets on a fair trade basis, in his own small workshop. He only uses traditional crafts and technology. I’ve asked him to use recycled brass, and any scraps of material and dust are brought to a factory, where they are recycled again.It has been very important for me to see exactly how the working and living conditions are, to get to know the stories of the people who make my jewelry, and to see where the money eventually goes to. A part of the proceeds now go to a school, orphanage and daycare in Lalitpur.Inscribed in the inside of the bracelet is the text ‘home is where your heart is’, in my grandmother’s handwriting. I also add two old pictures of my grandparents, and number all the bracelets before they are shipped.The boxes for the bracelets are also handmade. They are made of Lokta paper, made from the Daphne Papyracea which grows richly between 2,000 and 3,000 meters in the Himalaya’s. This shrub is hardly susceptible to insects, so pesticides are not needed. Nepalese handmade Lokta paper is a sustainable natural resource which is harvested and produced environmental friendly. The bark of Lokta is harvested by hand, without the plant being destroyed. Only salt and water are used to soften the wood-like fibers of the inner bark. Also, this plant continues growing after harvesting. It’s a authentic, strong and very ecologically responsible product.No jewelry is similar, each piece is unique: each etching comes out a bit different, and each bracelet may slightly vary in size and finish. I personally think this is one of the great things about ancient crafts.At the moment designing is a part time occupation, but I hope that in the future I can completely focus on my own line of handmade products.
A life without art…
might not be as pretty or interesting, but still definitely worth it. You can find beauty and peace in so many different things, places and people.
Three words about your style.
pure, fragile, personal.
What inspires you?
I am mainly inspired by nature, and its beauty and calmness. Every time I take a long walk I take something small home with me. A stone, a branch, shells, any random thing I find interesting or pretty. Quotes, short texts and stories, or even just words can really inspire me. I tend to write them down in a little booklet I bring with me everywhere I go.I also love looking at old photographs, from my own family or people I don’t even know. I think of the lives they have lived, the people they knew, and the things they have loved. Finding or reading personal things really inspires me too, like little love letters or small notes. In my own work the unknowing of the end result, and possible failure inspires me. In etching you never know what the first print will look like once you’ve taken the plate out of the acid. It can be disappointing, but it also awards me with great joy.
What is the difference between you and other designers?
That’s a hard question for me to answer. There are differences I hope to achieve, like making pure work which somehow touches people’s hearts and makes them think about their lives and the important people in it. But I don’t think it is for me to say if I really achieved them.
Apart from being a designer, what makes you happy?
I love waking up early, having a cup of coffee in my living room with the windows open, with only the birds singing in our garden. I love buying flowers at the market, dinner evenings with my girlfriends, drinking wine, taking long walks in the woods, alone or with my parents’ dog. Visiting places I’ve never been to also makes me very happy. Time to plan my next trip!
Interview: Vera Körber