We had the good fortune of connecting with Jessica Fee and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jessica, what inspires you?
I’m inspired by listening, by stillness. Sitting in a park watching blades of grass and their micro-movements as they photosynthesize. Sunlight filtering through tree leaves to create dancing light on my bedroom curtains. Watching my dog take in the wind as the fur on her face blows back and she closes her eyes, taking it all in. Our access to media right now bombards us with a million messages a minute, but there’s beauty in listening there, too. Listening, thinking critically and then, finally when I feel the time is right, offering a piece to the larger conversation. I think it’s essential that we ask ourselves: What is my role in this building the future? What do I have to offer the collective? How do I process and learn from the past? I am inspired by contemporaries and collaborators. In no particular order: The Women’s Center for Creative Work. Mandy Harris Williams. Shingi Rice. Amina El Kabbany. Hana Zebzabi. Jaklin Romine. Sabina Lundgren and her work with @bodytemplenyc. Jasdeep Kang. Nicole Kelly. Jacquie Lee. Aimeé Finley. Safia Elhillo. Robin Eisenberg. Sindha Agha. Laura Callaghan. Jing Niu. Josephine Shetty. Brandy Eggermann. Sara Friedman. Bree Watts. Layla Warren. Taylor Rousseau. Eliza Kanter. Louisa Meng. I find inspiration in inhabiting the world that these creatives have shaped with their art, their vulnerability, and their ideas. The world we live in exists because they are brave enough to contribute to the conversation. One that, piece by piece, builds a more inclusive and equitable world. To quote one of my biggest inspirations, Ava Duvernay: “If your dream only includes you, its too small.”

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
At the core of my career in art is curiosity. My first medium was writing. When I was 10 years old, I decided my school needed a newspaper, so I teamed up with my friend Kayla James and we created “The Saturn,” a three-page publication featuring interviews with teachers, hand-drawn comics, and horoscopes tailored to our playground crushes. I continued this love of the printed words and was editor-in-chief of our school newspaper. But upon gearing up for college, my curiosity encouraged me to explore other mediums, leading me to video production. Today, I can confidently say I am a Director, Photographer, Designer, Writer, and Editor, because I pay my rent through these jobs. These titles are all rooted in skills that I’ve developed throughout my 29 years on this planet, by thinking of myself as a SIM trying to max out my skill bars. I began by doing giving myself “homework” — essentially passion projects, which I would work on nights and weekends. Photoshop. InDesign. Premiere. All programs that I learned through these passion projects. As my skills grew, I’d pick-up odd jobs, or low paying jobs, practicing my professionalism while embodying these roles. Growth, for me, has always occurred when I throw myself into the unknown. I believe in the power of speaking things into existence, and my job experience in these roles often came from being brazen enough to say out loud – “I’d like to get paid for this type of work” to anyone listening. And, as I continued to build my portfolio (and tell anyone willing to listen what my vision for my future was), eventually people began thinking of me for those specific jobs. One thing I want to flag is this practice of skill building during nights and weekends can often lead to burnout, so it’s been a constant rebalancing act of rest and work, try to maintain my sanity while also making sure I REST (shout-out to the incredible Rachelle Comeau who continually reminds me of how important sleep is). There have been periods of my work history where I begin to feel disembodied – essentially, dead on the inside. And this happens most often when I start feeling like I’m no longer learning a skill I want to continue developing. So, again, we return to the practice of Listening. When my body tells me it needs Out of a situation, I do my best to setup an exit strategy, or forge a new path towards a different position. I’ve been freelance on and off throughout my 20’s, and I think about it a lot like swinging from branch to branch in a jungle. The only way you’re going to get to the next branch is if you propel yourself forward with enough momentum, and then, at the last possible moment, let go of the old branch and pray you can reach the next one.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’d start my day with a coffee from Cafecito Organico, and then a walk through Elysian Park. Maybe even bring a sandwich for a picnic. We’d ride bikes to The Red Lion Tavern, sit outside and social distance drink a pint, then maybe grab fresh fish from Whole Foods and cook it at my home, sitting outside to watch the sunset. Or, if we’re feeling like we want to eat out, we’d go to Melody on N. Virgil Avenue for their rotating menu and incredible wine selection.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Salima Magazine! The latest piece of work produced by the brilliant people behind The Women’s Center for Creative Work. The magazine is an incredible collection of words, photographs, and stunning designs printed via Co—Conspirator Press and edited by Salima Allen. The magazine was fully funded through donations and ad-dollars, so they paid all of the contributors a fair wage and produced a first edition that truly helps forge a path forward for like-minded individuals. When my edition came in the mail, I grabbed it and cuddled up in bed like I was back in high school flipping through the back-to-school edition of Teen Vogue. But this time instead of being pulled to purchase fast-fashion trends, Salima Magazine inspired me to redistribute resources and work on my business plan so I can purchase an ad in the next edition 🙂

Website: http://jessfee.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jess.fee/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jessfee

Other: https://vimeo.com/jessicafee

Image Credits
Eliza Kanter. Robin Webster. Louise O’Mahony. Erika DV De Leon.

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.