We are constantly inspired by Amanda Jane Jones. She has an incredible eye for finding the beauty in the every day. We love how she displayed her photograph of Jane with Cree, leaning on the piano like that with the eucalyptus it’s so simple and so brilliant. We were honored to spend some time to get to know her better…
So you are from Michigan, but I’ve read that you have moved around a lot – and that you even lived in New York, Geneva, and the Philippines. What took you around the globe and what was that like?
Yes! My husband is a forever student. He’s working on his 5th degree. Crazy, I know! He always has a summer internship or fellowship and since my work is wherever my computer is, we just stick together.
We love to travel and I’m so grateful my work allows for a flexible schedule and environment.
When did you know graphic design and letterpress was what you wanted to go into?
I actually always planned to study Jazz and only applied to the design program as a backup. I went tot he wrong audition and missed the deadline, so I decided to give graphic design a try. I’m so grateful I missed the audition! I love my career as a graphic designer and the places it has taken me.
You are also an amazing photographer and have an incredible way of capturing light. Did you study photography as well or does it come naturally to you as an artist?
My mom is a photographer. She always let me tag along as her assistant. I felt so grown up.
You studied at BYU – what was that like? Did you enjoy living in Utah?
Yes! I loved BYU. It’s such a wonderful school and design program. They teach you a lot about typography, which is great and then I was lucky enough to get a boatload of great internships following school that really helped me form into the designer I am today.
How did you and Cree meet?
In 2009, Cree hitchhiked from Povo, Utah to Kansas City, Missouri for “The Get Up Kids” final concert. He sat next to my family at church the morning after the concert and we gave him a ride to where he was staying. Three years later I was set up on a blind date, but the date never called. When I followed up with the friend who set us up, she said, “Oh Cree, he’s such a flake sometimes.” The only Cree I’d ever met was the cute hitchhiker in polyester pants and cowboy boots! Turns out it was the same one. He was living in Baltimore, so a year later I moved to New York for a design internship and we started dating there. Pretty serendipitous.
Cree in the Wild – how did that series begin? Is Cree in the Wild conceptualized before you shoot it or is it spontaneous?
Oh man, Cree is such a good sport. It’s all spontaneous. Basically, it’s just us out on a family walk and me saying, “Cree, do you think you could balance on that pole?” “Cree, do you think you could climb up that building?” He secretly loves it. I don’t even remember how it began, but we sure have fun doing it. Sometimes I’m laughing too hard to take a good photo.
My better half series – was that also conceptualized prior to shooting? Did you have the couples provide you with stories prior? Love it! The marriage between your photographs and design elements are beautiful.
Yes! I love this series. I need to start it back up again. I always ask the couples for their story and facts first and then I illustrated their images. I just love, love. And I thought it would be a fun way to share.
How do you process your images?
Always with VSCO. Love those guys. http://amandajanejones.vsco.co/
Tell us about Kinfolk and your involvement. You basically helped lay the foundation of the magazine. Did you and Nate Williams know each other?
Yup! He reached out to me when it was still “Kinsfolk.” Crazy to think back on it now. I’d just quit my job and had started freelancing – pretty perfect timing. Nate and I just powered through issue one together. We’d keep skype on and throw ideas back and forth all day long. It’s been a total labor of love and I’m forever grateful to have been a part of its creation.
Who influences or inspires your work?
What is your favorite book?
So you love jazz. Do you play any musical instruments, or do you prefer to sing?
I sing. I sang a lot in college. Jazz is just fun. So much fun. I miss it.
Tell us about Jane? Does she have your toes?
Bah! I love her. She’s the apple of my eye and Cree and I are a bit obsessed. We could just watcher all day. She just took her first step this week and I nearly died. She’s an amazing little girl and I love her dearly. It’s amazing to see how motherhood has changed my heart. I see everyone now as someone’s baby. I think she’s made me a kinder, gentler person. I’m so lucky I get to be her mama.
What has been the biggest surprise about being a mother?
I never fully understood the love my mother had for me, until I had my own daughter. A pretty remarkable experience. I remember driving home from the hospital and my mom was waiting at my door with open arms. She just looked at me like, “now you know!” It was one of the sweetest moments.
Has being a mother influenced your work differently?
Not aesthetically necessarily, but I certainly work a lot faster! And I’ve learned to work on very little sleep.
What do you like about Chicago? Is this temporary? Where in the world do you want to live?
We love Chicago because it’s right on Lake Michigan – my favorite! Chicago is also very community conscious. Everyone knows everyone and it very much as the Midwest mentality. Just a lot of kind, happy people in Chicago. We’ll be here for 5 years or until Cree finishes his PhD in Economics. As for where we want to live? We’ve lived all over and I’ve been happy in each place, so honestly, wherever Cree and Jane are, that’s where I want to be. My home is wherever they are.
Your words of advice?
I say this alllll the time, but my parents taught me to work hard and play hard. Hard work is a part of life and life is also meant to be lived. I’m always trying to find that balance.
P.S. Do you have a favorite staple of clothing?
I wear my madewell archiver boots year round! Even when it’s hot and sweaty. I just love them.
All images © Amanda Jane Jones & Cree Jones