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

Hi Jessica, do you disagree with some advice that is more or less universally accepted?
That you have to be a starving artist before you make it. I have a fulltime job that pays me well while I invest into my art career. This takes the pressure off of my art making and keeps my creative voice authentic (I make what I want to make, not because I “have” to). Having a “regular” job while being an artist is one of the many pathways to being a professional artist. I am fully booked out as an artist even with a full time job for the next 2 years, but it took work to get here.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Jessica Byrd Ghyvoronsky is a Korean-American artist living and working in Seattle, WA. She explores the traditional visual languages of her ancestors, seeking to employ these motifs and patterns in her work, juxtaposed against foreign materials to tell a story.

Her work addresses the hierarchies of belief systems found in Eastern and Western societies and organized institutions. Sub-themes that arise within her work also address identity, multiculturalism, displacement, and issues of homelessness.

Ultimately, she is interested in exploring the question of whether or not we can transcend the worlds from which we’re planted – culturally, mentally, spiritually, and otherwise.

Jessica’s work is currently being exhibited at the Gates Foundation Discovery Center Museum- “Confluence” (up until January 2023)

Risk taking: how do you think about risk, what role has taking risks played in your life/career?
As an artist, you constantly need to apply to opportunities to advance your career (grants, fellowships, exhibitions, etc.). A professor once encouraged me to shoot for 100 rejections per year, and it worked. I took more risks by expecting rejections, perfected my application communication, completely overcame my fear of rejection. Prior to this mindset exercise, I only had 5 shows in 7 years. After shooting for 100 rejections, I landed 20 shows in 4 years! I now share this practice with as many creatives as I can.

What habits do you feel helped you succeed?
It’s going to sound cheesy, but: Goal-setting. At the beginning of the year, I write down goals that I think are achievable and dreams that I think will never happen but why not write them down. In 2021, my unachievable dream was to get my art into a museum, and IT HAPPENED. I just found myself applying to more museum opportunities than ever before because it was top of mind, and sure enough, my art was selected for an exhibition at the Katonah Museum of Art in New York. Then started a domino effect that led me to my current exhibition at the Gates Foundation Museum (Discovery Center) in Seattle and a couple more museum opportunities coming in 2022 and 2023. I can barely believe it.

What’s the most important lesson your business/career has taught you?
Read contracts, don’t commit to anything without consulting at least one other person first, and always get your significant other to check your math! I recently had a situation happen in my side ”business” if you could call it that (it’s mostly pro bono, I work to find opportunities for local emerging artists in the Seattle area and connect them). I was literally helping an artist get paid every month to have their art shown somewhere, and my mistake that I did not make sure all parties were on the same page BEFORE signing contracts. The monthly payment ended up being less than the artist expected, so they threatened to sue me and I had to literally pay them over a thousand dollars out of my own pocket while I was already paying for their insurance. So they basically bankrupted my business. When I was getting absolutely nothing out of the deal, I was literally just the middle person trying to help this artist. So another lesson: be careful who you work with – people don’t always value kindness and generosity, and will do what they can to milk you for all you’re worth.

Work life balance: how has your balance changed over time? How do you think about the balance?
Art making for me rarely feels like work, it’s my respite from the daily grind – it feeds me and when I’m in the zone, I can make into all hours of the night and love every minute of it. I mentioned this before, but I make what I want to make. I don’t always get to make what I want to make WHEN I want to make it, but I always get around to it. I’m constantly thinking of new ideas and adding to my “inspo” folders for future projects.

Why did you pursue an artistic or creative career?
Most of my life, it’s felt like the artistic pathway has pursued ME. As early as I can remember, I’ve been creating. When I was 4 years old, I was drawing on every piece of paper I could find so my Mom had to start cutting up old calendars so I can draw on the backs of them – anything she could find. Every single year from Kindergarten to 12th grade, I always said I wanted to be an artist. I did try running away from it after I started college because I had sadly bought into the starving artist myth, and then again after college, but I just kept coming back to it because deep in my soul I know this is what I’m meant to do. Needless to say, I’ve stopped running. 😊

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
For a weeklong trip in Seattle, here’s what I’d do: – I co-own a coffee shop in Seattle called Santo Coffee Co so would obviously have to start there
– Dinner at Charlotte, Violet, and Mondello
– Day trip to Bellingham via Chuckanut Drive (Washington’s #2 most scenic route) and La Conner (stopping at one of my favorite small town art galleries that displays amazing work – Cassera Arts), antiquing
– hit up pioneer square on first thursday for the art walk, grab the best burger I’ve ever had in my life at Deadline
– If a sunny day, take the pup to Lake Washington for a swim

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My high school art teacher – Mrs. Loring – for encouraging me to pursue the arts when I didn’t believe I could.

Website: www.jghyvoronsky.com

Instagram: jessica_ghyvoronsky

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jessica-byrd-ghyvoronsky-1942253a/

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