I don’t know about you, but one of my dreams would be to create all day, be immersed in a project, pencils, canvases and having paint under my nails that I just can’t get out, and don’t care, cause I am living the moment… yeah… well… that has not happened yet.
Never say never…
In the mean time I can ogle over the amazing talent of Jess the maker, illustrator, baker, creator, and all around creative spirit of Watercolour Heart.
If you are considering pursuing your creative passion in painting or any art form, then this is a must read. Thank you Jess for giving a wonderful insight into how you balance being a creative and business owner
Getting to know Jess….
I am a young artist/illustrator living in Cape Town. I think my friends as well as anyone in my life would agree that creating is very much at the core of who I am. I am very sentimental, passionate and don’t know how to do anything in half measures. My (very large) family and those close to me take priority above all else at any time of the day. I love a good G&T and outside of the studio, the kitchen is my happy place as I believe there is a wholesome/ homeliness to cooking that is another creative way to care for and bring people together. Above most things I believe that a creative life is certainly a happy one.
Watercolour Heart, is your business, as the saying goes, if you do what you love, you never work a day. What did you do before Watercolour Heart and did you ever think you would be an artist/illustrator professionally?
I think I agree/disagree with that saying because when you’re doing what you love you pour all day every day into it, there is no 9-5 when you’re running your own business it’s more like 24/7 so you’re actually always working but it is always worth it! I started Watercolour Heart half-way through my Fine Art degree after having an accident that put me out for a few weeks. I never considered becoming a professional artist/ illustrator even though creating was central to my life from the age of 6, in fact law and business were more on the cards than anything else and when I began studies I was enrolled for a business degree. It was during the business degree that I realised after spending nights calculating equations I would stay up until 4am just to get some drawing time in, until a friend one day said “Why aren’t you doing this with your life?” – after this realisation everything then changed as I applied to study Fine Art and now Watercolour Heart allows me to combine my passion for business and entrepreneurship with my creative ability.
What advice do you give to fellow creative’s wanting to take the leap into following their passion for the arts full time?
Pursuing the Arts full time if you are really wanting to extend your ability from a hobby/talent to a business is not a decision to make uninformed. Although business and art have been stereotyped as very ‘different’ they actually rely on one another quite heavily to make any endeavour successful. In a simple analogy see your passion/talent as your fuel and your market research/business plan as your vehicle. Both combined will allow you to successfully and safely drive through your journey of pursuing your passion as a career path. No matter how organised or planned it is always a brave journey and the leap comes in with starting to take the steps towards living your creative journey and stopping with the excuses of why you can’t.
I love how you take a watercolour painting and then further edit it further on Adobe Illustrator. How did you stumble across working with this medium like that?
I think it is impossible to ignore that we live in an age of digital technology that allows us to create and share far beyond what is simply in front of us. I began playing between the medium of hand-painted and digital editing when realising it gave me so much scope to give customer’s exactly what they wanted, in great quality in a reasonably fast turnover time. Coming from a background in printmaking, the concept of creating a work that was very personal and unique but could still be printed in multiples if that is what the customer desired was hugely exciting to me.
Being an artist means you need to be creative and inspiration helps, what inspires you daily?
I am very lucky to be able to interact with other creatives and entrepreneurs on a daily basis, which is a constant inspiration. I love scrolling through Pinterest and while I’m working, listening to podcasts. As I illustrate a lot of botanicals a stroll in nature, observing colours and shapes is a huge inspiration for me. At the heart of it surrounding myself with people who inspire me, not only with their creative work but their work ethic, their attitude and how they preserver.
If you only had one subject to paint for eternity what would it be?
I could easily paint florals and greenery forever because there is an infinity of shapes and colours in the nature that surrounds us.
Are there any other art forms you enjoy?
As I’ve mentioned I love cooking (which can be an incredible art form), I enjoy sewing and embroidery, my partner and I are big into DIY and decorating – basically anything that gets me making and creating I’m a big fan of!
Being a creative and running a business is not always easy, how do you balance the admin side vs the creation process?
This is a tough one and I think a constant battle when you’re a one woman band running your business but the longer you’re in it you establish your own rhythm. For me it comes down to discipline and organisation, my early mornings are for admin and the rest of the day is for illustration work, I try have set days for printing and packaging orders but there are always crazy run around days where it doesn’t work out that way. Of course and very importantly you have to balance your personal/family life as well, so each persons schedule needs to work best for them.
How important do you think art is for children, and did your parents encourage you to follow your talent?
I feel that art and creating is a very essential element to a child’s development process. From the physicality of hand-eye co-ordination to the emotionality of expressing ideas, emotions and learning there are many different ways to look at, depict and interpret something and that each person has their own unique way of doing so. My grandmother was an artist, and so I was very blessed to be taught and encouraged by her from a young age. Although my parents are not artists, nor my three siblings, they always wholeheartedly encouraged my creative talent and entrepreneurial drive and is a huge part of why it was easier for me to make a career path change when I did.
Some quirky questions to relate back to the child in all of us:
Did you have a favourite toy as a child?
My favourite toys were definitely my dolls and my ‘dress up’ clothes aka my moms cupboard.
Did you have a movie or cartoon that you loved?
I was in love with Disney animation, I would draw all the characters and make my own paper dolls of them, which I now do for my nieces.
Were you a play outside and build forts or dress your doll for days kinda gal?
I was very much both, enjoying anything where I could ‘make up’ a game.
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
All I wanted to be was a ballerina princess – I’m not too sure what that job would entail now but I had a very adamant idea then.
If you could go back and redo your childhood room would you keep it the same or make changes?
My childhood room was lilac and white, although very simple I actually didn’t spend much time in it except for bed. Seeing the inspiration for children’s nurseries and playrooms now I think “wow that would be amazing” but I’m too biased by the fond memories of blanket forts under the dining room table and every room of the house that was a potential playroom, naturally my mom would disagree wishing my bedroom was my playroom. This must be said – God Bless the mom of a creative child for all her patience, it is not an easy job when you don’t want to discourage your child’s creativity but also have to break it to them that that aren’t quite a fashion stylist yet and can’t cut up all of their clothes!
Nowthat you have finished reading all about Jess and getting to know her better, why not have a look at her website…. http://watercolourheart.com/
A big thank you to Jess for doing this beautiful illustration of Skylar, I really appreciated it. It was lovely working with Jess, as we discussed the style I was looking for and the outcome was better than I could of even thought. Its truly worth having art pieces of your children and not just photos, there is just something so special about it.
Above one of Jess’s illustrations she did for me of Skylar, I had it put on a mug by Nectar and Ink. Its a way to keep a piece of art with me anywhere in the house.