We had the good fortune of connecting with Jess Humphrey and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jess, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
I used to be a workaholic. My work defined me. I felt my self-worth through my job title, my salary, my office, my expensive things. My days were spent racing against my calendar, barely eating, and getting home just in time for bed. Work felt external. It depleted me. My work was my life…..and now, my life is my work. I wake up naturally without an alarm, meditate, exercise, maybe go for a hike, take a bath, take my time drinking coffee, and then go into the studio. I do most things in my life to nurture myself and my loved ones. I am happy. And when I am happy and taken care of, I make my best work.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
As a teenage girl, I went to an Arts High School. At 13, I had my own studio, 24-hour access to a wood shop, and spent 4 years practicing and studying art. I was also very involved in the hardcore scene on the east coast and spent my time outside of school going to shows and taking photos. At the same time, I was balancing being a caretaker for my father who struggled with addiction. After receiving scholarships to my top two art schools, I decided that taking care of and supporting my dad took priority over my dream to be an artist. I sacrificed myself to play the role that many women play of caretaker. So, I took a different path. I eventually moved to NY and started working in fashion. I spent the next 20 years leading design for companies like Ralph Lauren and Converse, and finally my own menswear company Victory Press. About two years ago, I shifted my focus to making art full-time. My 30-year journey to realize my dream has been a little unconventional, but after three cities, and a rewarding career in the creative field that allowed me to travel the world, I’m doing what I love.
I’ve managed to use the process of my work to cut through the invisible, external forces that have masked my true spirit, which is a common theme in my work. There is an intentional side and a subconscious side to my work. Intentionally, I put shapes and colors, together that feel satisfying and balanced to me. On a subconscious level, my work explores ideas and issues around being a woman. Recurring themes appear in my work that I think a lot of girls + women experience, like conflicting feelings of wanting to be seen and wanting to be invisible, of masking strength in exchange for love and acceptance. I explore my own experience of being a woman by playfully poking at masculine dominance while redefining femininity, questioning gender roles, and what happens when you remove the concept of gender completely. I use my work not only as a way to move through my own experiences as a woman but to shift the viewer’s own relationship with the feminine.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
a perfect day in NYC
1) walk from my apartment in Ridgewood to Cafe Plein Air for coffee and a croissant
2) walk with coffee to the L train at Forrest Ave, watch the view of the city as it crosses over the Williamsburg Bridge
3) take the train to LES for a few hours at the Russian/Turkish Bathhouse
4) walk to Soho for Oysters and Martinis at Balthazar
5) take the train to Lincoln Center, sit on the black marble fountain, smoke a joint
6) walk through central park
7) moma or Guggenheim or both
8) dinner at Frenchette
9) in bed by 9p
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to shoutout to my mom Kat Love . I’m not sure where I’d be without her support, encouragement, love, and advice. I also want to shoutout to a book called “Letting Go: The Pathway to Surrender” by Dr. David Hawkins. My life coach Bryan Winston sent it to me and after reading it several times, I found a new way. I understand now that I am in control of my thoughts and that I can decide how I feel. Our brains are a computer and we are at the helm, It’s been a huge relief to be free of burdening negativity, to overthinking, to spiraling thoughts. I’ve learned to move through feelings and thoughts instead of suppressing them and letting them stew beneath the surface. It’s freed up my brain space so my work can flow more freely.