STORIES & INSIGHTS
OCTOBER 20, 2022
We recently connected with Jan Bozarth and have shared our conversation below.
Jan, appreciate you joining us today. Can you open up about a risk you’ve taken – what it was like taking that risk, why you took the risk and how it turned out?In the beginning of my career I chose a path that wasn’t really a path but a faint voice of something in the distance. When I had my kids I was working in the recording industry. Music was a foundational element for me but the business itself did not work well with motherhood. So I found myself in another area of entertainment, the movie business. To continue my passion for music, I crafted a space for it in the lives of my children and the family home-an organic expression of how I wanted to raise my boys. I followed my vision, put my three boys in Suzuki music training and proceeded to unfold the path for music for young people in real time. I learned along with them and started developing projects that always included music- The Real Children’s Theatre of Texas, Tribes Music Program for At-Risk Youth, and a long run at writing music for girls’games. I found that I was a pretty good song writer thanks to my esteemed collaborators. I licensed my songs but found that my joy was not only in the creating of music but in the execution of stories with music at heart. I always said that my big projects were just an elaborate plan to write more songs. Eventually I branched out to become a writer of books and a producer of all kinds of media for kids. The risk? When there’s no obvious path, you are always hearing “show me” from everyone. That makes me a lifelong risk taker.
Jan, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?I am a writer/producer. ( Mattel, Disney Imagineers, Simon & Shuster, Random House Kids, Dora the Explorer, Clueless, Girl Games and more) That title has meant different things over my thirty years in the entertainment business though. I have followed the arc of the technology ( analog to digital-games to web3) and entertainment content distribution ( Movie Studios to Record Companies to Indie direct to consumer). Through the years my north star was always the nurturing of creative young people, especially young teens and girls. Like most artists, I care deeply about what I create as well as the people who consume it. It’s easy to get sucked into fame-seeking. It is harder to nurture and grow a life-long career in the arts. I have had as many failures as successes. What I am most proud of are the generations of kids I mentored who grew up and became artists themselves. People need role models for a career that requires a tough skin and a hard-core dream seeker mentality. I have lived through many types of “new tech” and am proud to have been and still be a risk-taker in how to use technology to push the envelope of my craft. These days I am embracing WEB3, NFT’s, AR, UnReal, and storytelling across formats. My newest company- Aventurine Studio One- is developing my 8 books into AR games, avatar fashion, and 3D streamed music performances in the metaverse.
What do you think is the goal or mission that drives your creative journey?Inherent in everything I write is the search for meaning from within. Sometimes this goes against the grain for many brands that focus only on outer expressions. It is my experience that if approached with respect, youth will rise to the ideas and bring forth so much more. My particular goal is to speak the languages of music, art, and fashion to a young audience who deeply cares about things like family, friends, social justice, mental wellness and the natural world. All of my stories have these elements in their DNA. With my Aventurine Franchise, I am storytelling across forms like games, music, digital fashion, user generated content, and at last the traditional platform of books. My goal is to tell the kinds of stories that can inspire preteen and young teens through their personal journey to become more courageous in their expression of themselves in the real world.
In your view, what can society to do to best support artists, creatives and a thriving creative ecosystem?Society can start to value artists beyond commerial interests. Creatives are bringing forth the unseen, the unknown, and untold stories. The Creative Economy is not just a commodity, it is a social movement! And it is so exciting to see the tools for young artists’ skills and talents becoming democratized. Self expression is a human right. When I look at the numbers of followers artists and creators can get on TikTok, I don’t just think about the money they make but the level of human acceptance (the love) of their creative expressions. We all came into this world dying to be heard and this generation has it all- the tools,the platform, and the support.
Image Credit: MotherTree Stage 3D-Casey Byers/Evan Bozarth
According to recent Google research (Washington Post column 1/5/18), soft skills might be even more valuable now and in the future than we thought.
"Project Oxygen shocked everyone by concluding that, among the eight most important qualities of Google's top employees, STEM expertise came in dead last. The top soft skills were: being a good coach; communicating and listening well; possessing insights into others; having empathy toward and being supportive of one's colleagues; being a good critical thinker and problem solver; and being able to make connections across complex ideas."
Consider the fact that the jobs of tomorrow may not even exist yet. Young people are entering the unknown. There is a greater need to be able to create, innovate, and deal with uncertainty. In a world where getting shot in school is among the top 5 worries of kids, telling stories that reflect the real while teaching kids to envision a better future becomes a matter of life or death.
Our properties teach and inspire empathy, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity!
The family that plays together, stays together. If we're not creating something, we're in trouble. This family has been making music or some kind of creative thing for as long as I can remember. What does it take to raise a creative family? Mostly an openness to see the world as a basket of possibilities. Our basket included music but was not restricted to it by any means. I kept a basket of shakers, tambourines, percussion instruments in a corner when the kids were little. Everyone was invited to play. The boys studied Suzuki violin and cello and I played my open tunings on guitar. Evan had an uncle who is a badass bass player who was his mentor on bass. Dustin had Robert Skiles ( Beto) as his piano mentor. Shane had the Austin Symphony's Concert Master as mentor and UT String Project to move him along the violin path. Soon we had enough going on musically to write songs for fun. So writing songs was our game. I admit that I made them watch musicals on Wednesdays. They hated that. On the visual side, we also had a costume box where we saved every costume they ever wore since 1983. I made a very bad ape costume that I believe is still in there. I tell myself that's why E and D like to wear costumes ALL THE TIME (check out HeartByrne).
I have adopted many kids/people along the way- mostly artists, creatives, and dreamers who filled the house with music, art and dance and became our extended family. The joy and love that we have for creating is a part of every day. And, NO, we don't always work together. I think of this as our family farm and everyone works at it. We sowed the seeds of creativity early on and and now we are reaping the harvest. For me, as mom/teacher/mentor, there's something very magical about knowing someone creatively their entire life. It's a secret language we share. It's an understanding of the unique way someone thinks and feels and the beauty of how they express it in the world.
This year, after three years of recovering from breast cancer, I open a new chapter in my career by creating Redragonfly, new original content for kids and a new company to help others make content. If I didn't give birth to you, don't worry, there's plenty of room for inspired creators to play along. I'm counting on building this family to millions. After all, I believe that what people really want is to create something beautiful/awesome/powerful in the world. Redragonfly is here to help with a new studio, a venue for creative tweens and teens, a new book and TV series, and much much more.
Join the family! Let's play!
Jan Bozarth- New Years 2018