Jane Kusuma is an illustrator and designer from Seattle and the one-woman team behind Jovietajane Creative Studio. As the Asian Mental Health Collective (AMHC) began to expand and rebrand, Jane Kusuma graciously reached out to our organization to donate her time and energy into designing the rebrand. Following the Black Lives Matter movement and the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, Kusuma realized she wanted to donate her time, not just her money. Kusuma chose AMHC after finding our organization through Instagram. She mentions how “mental health is the last thing people think about and donate to” and how she was inspired by her own mental health struggles to donate her time for AMHC. Kusuma wanted to modernize and neutralize AMHC’s branding to make it accessible for all ages. She used soft, tranquil color palettes to create a calm and containing environment for everyone who wants to be a part of AMHC.
Jane Kusuma was born in Indonesia and discovered a love for drawing at an early age. At 14, she solidified her decision to pursue the arts and worked towards a career in graphic design. After getting her start in working for major toy companies like Hasbro and Mattel, she began to do freelance work on the side. Kusuma was then sponsored by a company and began working in a corporate setting. However, after a period of time, she began to suffer from burnout and realized her mental health was deteriorating. She took a 3-month sabbatical to reevaluate her life and realized she “would be so much happier doing freelance work.”She jokes about “being allergic to the 9-5 schedule” as her most creative hours are in the early morning and at night. Kusuma asserts how the ability to set her own timelines, choose her own clients, and experience different creative projects helps fuel her artistic nature.
When it comes to mental health, Jane Kusuma reflects on how she has struggled with anxiety and depression throughout her life. At 28, she started to recognize the importance of rest. She remarks, “My mental state will always affect my art. I used to think that if I was struggling I would make better art but that isn’t true.” Kusuma has since placed an emphasis on including joy in her art and making sure to take the time slow down and rest as needed.
Her final reflections include a message to those who want to pursue the creative arts. She asserts that there is no need to buy expensive equipment but rather, to “use the resources you already have.” She notes using online resources and platforms like Skillshare to learn and expand on one’s artistic abilities. Kusuma also believes that college isn’t necessary to those who want to pursue the arts as there are many other ways to learn.
In regards to Asian mental health, Jane Kusuma expresses the importance of speaking out and being open about mental health issues, in spite of being raised in cultures where silence and silencing is the norm, and where mental health is stigmatized. Kusuma acknowledges the difficulty of the times andand emphasizes the need, now more than ever, to care for ourselves.
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