Photo Credit: Laura Adams

In this new series of Inspiring Makers, we sit down over a (sometimes virtual) cup of tea with our favourite inspiring makers to chat about creativity, community and what gets us up in the mornings.

Today, we’re talking with the incredible Java Bere. Java is a writer, entrepreneur, artist and host of the amazing podcast, On The Irregular.

How did you start your creative journey? What do you enjoy most about the work that you do?

How did I start? I would say as a child. I spent every moment I could reading, drawing, writing stories and making little homes out of cardboard boxes for my toys. I think I always knew I wanted to be a writer and illustrator in some capacity, but in secondary school, theatre club crept in and I ended up choosing to go to drama school. I carried on being an actor for several years and after a couple of twists and turns, including having kids, I found myself back writing, drawing and telling stories.

This now translates into many different areas: such as my online shop, instagram, my patreon where I share food stories and recipes, the greeting cards I design, the tables and food I style, my podcast ‘On the Irregular’.

I think what I enjoy the most, the ultimate objective of all the work I create, is making people feel something. It could be joy, inspiration, nostalgia. I am hooked on connecting with others through story telling and poetry, whether it be visual or through words. I think it’s what I used to love about acting, and now I find it through the various areas of my work, and more recently with my podcast.

Do you have a morning ritual? How does this shape your day?

It depends on the day and the season. We have two little ones who don’t sleep through the night so that also has an impact on how alert I am in the morning. One lovely version of a morning would be to rise before anyone else is awake, around 5am and light the candles at the kitchen table, brew up a pot of tea and draw in my sketchpad. If the weather is fair (we live in rural West Yorkshire), I’ll head out for a walk and get back in time for the morning juggernaut of breakfast, teeth, shoes, school bags, school run.

If I can’t do any of these things, I do notice that it takes me longer to focus my energy. I dither and procrastinate, struggling to find the ’start’ to the day. Life with kids isn’t consistent, so I take these ‘good’ starts where I can.

Photo Credit: Laura Adams

What’s your favourite tea?

My favourite breakfast teas are Redbush with oat milk, Earl Grey, NUDITEA Breakfast in the Buff, both with oat milk, and for the evening I love NUDITEA After Eight (Thirty) after dinner.

We love your writing style! Do you have any books that have shaped how you write or think about writing?

Gosh, thank you. This is such an interesting question and I’ve loved thinking about this.

I think I’ve possibly been quite influenced by magical realism, the slight absurdity and humour I find in it. And the lyricism of the Spanish Romantic Poets.

I try and find a pared down, simplicity in the magic of the every day with my own work. My aim is to find the honesty, the beauty, the humour and present it as simply as I can.

I also really enjoy Nigel Slater’s food writing for his clear, and again, simple, approach to writing about food and rituals. He captures warmth and nostalgia so perfectly.

Oh and Stevie Smith, always.

Image Credit: Java Bere

What keeps you grounded? How do you practice self-care?

My core grounding is time in nature, alone. I love walking, running and swimming in rivers or the sea, but these aren’t always possible. Walking and running are meditative for me, all my best thoughts come when I’m doing them. It is a constant effort to remind myself to get out the door and up out into the fields and hills. But once I do, I find perspective and clarity.

Where do you feel the most at peace?

On a hill in Glossop, Derbyshire, where we buried our first child Alma. Her ashes are buried there, beneath the moss, because it was where I would always walk to when I felt unclear.

Do you have any words of wisdom for other creatives or people who admire what you do?

I would say: play, experiment, soak up the work of other creatives but lean into your own unique way of translating the world. Be as honest as you possibly can, there is beauty and power in the discomfort. And I generally think that is where the magic happens.

And finally, who or what inspires you?

Oh god everything! Laundry on a washing line, my family, all generations of them, the people I love, lemon trees, crumbling old buildings, antique books, chipped ceramic bowls, shadows, an unexpected song on the radio, dripping candle wax, the repeat designs I see in nature, dancing, old panes of glass, tobacco tins, shopping lists. It’s endless.

As for famous creatives: Prince, Aubrey Beardsley, Virginia Woolf, the Brontë Sisters, Anaïs Nin, Henry Miller, Louise Brooks, John Waters, Margaret Atwood, Arthur Rackham, Peter Greenaway. There are too many to name, these are just a few off the top of my head.

Who are your favourite small makers & businesses?

There are so many, but a few that come to mind:

Dear Prudence Studio, Laurie is an illustrator based in our town of Hebden Bridge and her new work is just sublime. She designs greetings cards, prints and stationery and is currently selling original pieces that she creates in her attic studio.

Lela HarrisKnot and Gather is one of my favourite portrait artists of all time, she is INCREDIBLE and recently designed the cover of the new edition of The Colour Purple.

Laura Adams, photographer. Laura and I have worked together on several occasions and I am never not in awe of her ability to catch light and joy like no one else I know.

Do you have any favourite products, books, or other tools that you use and love?

So, in terms of books, I would say The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron is a bit of a creative bible.

Laura Adams and I wrote a guided e-workshop called ‘Say it out Loud’ about cyclical living with the moon (but can be applicable to the seasons and the menstrual cycle) that also helped me really hone in on what tools, creative exercises and logistical planning I have used in finding my way creatively as well as a business. I am currently working on making it into a downloadable course that I cannot wait to share with other creatives and small businesses.