Irene De Jong

As part of our Interview series 1, we spoke with Irene De Jong an illustrator who runs art classes and workshops online with her own creative community. She explains how anyone can make art and enjoy being creative.


Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Irene and I am a bit of a millipede. I am an illustrator, I run lots of art classes and workshops. I host a creative community, like a membership community where people join in.

I have a podcast, I do YouTube videos and yeah lots of different things. I love trying out new things and I very rarely say no to something so it’s fun to do lots of different things.

How did you get into the creative industry?

It’s quite a long story because I was always creative as a child and when I was younger and I used to paint a lot and draw a lot.

And I actually applied to go to art school twice after my high school and I got rejected twice. And I just decided, well, this was completely not for me and I changed everything around and I studied law.

So I became a lawyer, then moved to England, worked in insurance and in
finance and in that industry. And then in 2018, my grandmother passed
away, who was an artist. And she left me all her art materials, which I took home and I started to paint again. And yeah, that really helped me.

I was really close to my grandmother, so that really helped me get over that grief and feeling closer to her. I sort of fell in love with it again and I started to paint more and people started to ask me, “Oh, can you teach me this?” And I started to have a small group of friends who I taught some art classes to and then slowly that became bigger and bigger.

And then in 2019, I quit my job and I started “making and musings”, which is what my business is called now. And now I’m doing this full time.

So now I’m running art classes and doing this as a full time profession.
So it’s really a bit of a windy road of how I got to do this. I don’t regret not studying art because I feel like this way is also a way and I’ve learned a lot. And I’m the person I am now because of the choices I made.

I don’t regret it in that sense, but I do regret not practicing more just in my spare time, just to enjoy art for what it is instead of, “Oh, you have to do it for a living or not at all”, but just to do it for joy more. And that is sort of what I teach now in my community. So that is absolutely OK for people to just enjoy it and you don’t always have to make perfect art or sell it or make money from it.

Or you don’t have to keep everything you make either just to do it for the sake of doing it and enjoying that creative process. Somehow that message is something that really started to resonate with me.

Like, “Oh, I really want to encourage other people to pick up a pencil and just sketch, make a mess.” It’s absolutely fine. It’s OK.

What advice would you give to people starting in the creative industry?

So my first tip is just to create lots of art.

Just don’t stop, it’s okay if you make mistakes. If you make 100 paintings and 50 of them are rubbish, that’s okay, because you still have 50 paintings that are great, or drawings. But if you only make two paintings and one of them is rubbish, then it can really knock your confidence. So the more you create, the easier it is to experiment and to play, and the more joy you get out of it, the more you discover your own style.

So just carry a sketchbook with you everywhere and draw, or if you want to make photos, make as many photos as you can, or just really make that part of your life as much as possible and just enjoy it.