Jan Bozarth has a lifetime of creating projects that spark the imagination. While Bozarth is the author of the popular children’s book series, The Fairy Godmother Academy, she also wears many other creative hats: singer/songwriter, producer, futurist. Her work continues to inspire change in entertainment, technology, and media through content design and development. For Bozarth, exposure to the arts and fostering curiosity was an essential part of her motherhood journey.
AF: What role has being an artist played in your life?
JB: I think of my creativity as an aspect of my life force or chi. When I’m creating, I feel happy and healthy, fully expressed, and engaged intellectually and spiritually. I am able to dream and imagine new worlds.
AF: What are some lessons you’ve learned about being a mother and an artist?
JB: There are seasons for everything. Sometimes you are learning and sometimes you are executing on what you have learned. When you’re older, you can free yourself of the constraints of the “nuts and bolts” training and enjoy a creative flow allowing you to express whatever comes to the surface. Any art form, when mastered, provides an endless wellspring of joy and emotional fulfillment throughout your lifetime. My children have reported to me over the years that these skills have given them comfort, joy, solace, and happiness throughout their lives. It never goes away. Also, parenting is not simply functional caretaking. It’s about teaching lifelong wellness and resilience skills. The arts, and other forms of creativity, are good ways to master important life skills. For example, singing to ourselves is a form of self-soothing.
AF: What are some tips or tricks for raising a creative kid?
JB: Take children to art events and performances as much as possible. But don’t just take them to the symphony or the ballet, though those groups are very stimulating. For me, it was important to let my kids see other children who were making music or art, and dancing or performing. It can be daunting for kids to see only very skilled adults creating great art experiences. They need to see the creativity and determination of other kids. This way, they have a sense that they can do something creative too. Kids are naturally fearless. I wanted to give my sons permission to explore and try new things that were interesting to them. For us, it was always about the journey of creativity. With practice, we could get better over time. We don’t have to be great in the beginning. It’s impossible. For me, I wanted to raise kids who could always dream and imagine and express themselves. I’m proud of them.
AF: Your kids are all professional artists and creatives in their own rights. How did you cultivate their interests at a young age?
JB: I focused on exposing them to all things creative in the home. Maker tools became a part of the everyday landscape. I made sure there was music and craft time and available materials from a very early age. Our environment was important too. We always had music playing in our house, and I made them watch musicals every other Wednesday night on video. I always let them choose what they were interested in, like sports, while making creative tools available to them. Art became organic to their existence. For instance, I kept a basket of percussion instruments in the living room beside the piano. We made up songs for fun, nothing formal at first. Just fun. Eventually, the kids made short movies, flip books, and dances with their stuffed animals. Of course, there were music lessons— but only if they wanted to do it.
AF: Can you teach creativity, or does it just come naturally to certain people?
JB: It’s important to let children know that creativity is a natural ability that we all have. As a parent, I wanted to create an environment that supported that idea. Somehow, in our culture, we began to believe that there are creative people and non-creative people— that you either have a talent, or don’t. I think that’s nonsense. We are all creative. We just express it differently.
My three boys studied the Suzuki Method for stringed instruments including violin, viola, and cello. Because Suzuki uses ear training before it teaches music reading, it feels natural and they excelled on their instruments quickly.
AF: In terms of arts education, how can we successfully use the arts to help kids grow?
JB: I’m all for educating kids in art forms that interest them. Their passion for the work counts so much. But pressuring kids to master something is probably not the best idea. We want to protect a child’s natural curiosity, not make it into a commodity or competition. It may sound strange, but not focusing on mastery as a kid is important to protecting a child’s love of something. Arts education provides a head start on crafts like writing, dancing, acting, music, painting, and more. But I think a new field of creativity education needs to become front and center. We need to teach kids about the art of creativity itself. We need to stop focusing so much on outcomes and focus more on the long-lasting gifts the arts provide: emotional intelligence, co-creation, empathy, communication, and expression. We need to trust kids’ instincts and interests and allow their natural creativity to flourish. Then, real mastery can happen.
AF: What advice would you give to parents who want to pursue their own artistic goals while raising children?
JB: Integrate your own creative activities with your child’s interests as much as possible. Model your commitment to a creative life. And build in permission to be alone, taking time to dream and imagine. You do NOT need to be busy all the time. In fact, being constantly busy is a dangerous behavior pattern that doesn’t leave time for the creative mind to do its thing. Most of creativity is about training the mind to free associate, problem solve, and imagine. Children mimic their parents. Show them how creativity can be a part of a daily routine and life itself.
AF: As a multi-faceted artist, how do you balance all of your work and interests?
JB: I don’t do it all at the same time! I have a bucket of songs, poems, and pieces of paper full of ideas. I go to the bucket from time to time to pull something out and do another iteration. This is the well. Your mind has a bucket like this too. You are always going to be connecting things in new ways if you allow the free flow of dreams, ideas, and musings.
Right now, I am in my happy place after years of expressing my creativity in various arts and entertainment businesses. I am happily creating a new experience for children and young adults, the HelloAventurine franchise. This includes my six Fairy Godmother Academy books, some new books for older kids called Coded4Greatness, and Dreameroo, which teaches people how to explore the well of their own mind, trust what they find, and then bring new ideas into form. I’m also teaching and speaking on the subject of nurturing creativity in yourself, and your kids. As it turns out, computers can do a lot of the analytical work. But innovators need to be able to dream.
By Jennifer Hill Robenalt
Photo Credit: Erin Jones