We had the good fortune of connecting with Jessica Hemmy and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jessica, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
One of my main reasons to pursue my art career was for more balance in my life. I was a chef working in Malibu and had just had my first child. Even though I had a great schedule as far as chef jobs go, I was finding the commute and new parent life extremely stressful. Any busy new mom can relate to the stress of dropping off your baby at daycare, commuting, trying to still slay at your job but having to stop everything a few times a day to pump in a bathroom, someone else’s office, or your car. I wasn’t spending as much time with my son as I wanted and I had lost my enthusiasm for cooking. I was burning out and something had to change. Although I didn’t have family in the area to help with childcare I did have an amazingly supportive husband with a good job. He encouraged me to find a new path that made more sense for the life we had built.
I went back to my creative roots and started painting again and everything clicked. I was so much happier and it made me a better mom. I was able to create my own schedule around my family instead of scheduling my family around my career.
Nothing has been easy. Every artist knows the struggle and the job isn’t exactly known as lucrative. As an artist you are fighting for exposure but reminding people that exposure doesn’t pay your bills, applying for shows and pushing through the rejections and if you’re like me you battle with your anxiety and imposter syndrome But making my art is so freeing and fulfilling. I get to create and make my own schedule. I get to choose my work AND my family. I am so grateful for the chance to follow this path and that pushes me to improve my skills and market my work everyday. I have so much more drive doing what I love than I ever had working for someone else.
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.
My work has gone through many transformations. I consider myself a multidisciplinary artist. I have a hard time sticking with just one medium. Currently I work a lot with resin. I layer it into paintings and carve into it. I try to create several layers of depth and carving the resin creates true shadow and texture that changes as you move around the piece and the light changes. I get very excited about new to me mediums and try to find new ways of using them.
An artists path is not an easy one. There is so much rejection when you’re trying to break into the gallery world. It’s often a pay to play field. You have to pay to apply or pay to be part of a market. No one hands you the opportunities. I personally have to fight my social anxieties to network with other artists and curators. But as with most things in life, it gets easier with practice and I love the people I have met.
The studio space I rent is in the Bell Arts Factory and I love having other artists around. I can hide away in my studio and push through a piece but if I want to bounce an idea off another artist there are other amazing people right down the hall. We talk to each other about opportunities, marketing, how to use different mediums and I am so grateful for that arts family. To start your own business takes grit and perseverance and being surrounded by others that are on the same path is immensely helpful and motivating. I am the sole producer and employee of my business but in this community I am not alone.
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?
When my friends visit I love to take them out on the water. The Channel Islands are stunning and I love to go on the whale watching tours. Downtown Ventura reminds me so much of my hometown of Lawrence, Kansas. We picked living in Ventura to be in a town with a walkable and fun downtown. I love taking friends to Fluid State for a beer and a slice. We would visit Fiddle and Fern for some plant therapy, make some jewelry at Brooklyn Charm and if it lined up, I would definitely take a friend to Paddy’s Pub for Drag Queen Bingo! Of course there would be some jaunts to the beach, some oogling of surfers, and some day trips to Ojai and Santa Barbara.
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?
I am so fortunate to live in Ventura, CA. The arts community here is very welcoming and supportive. I started showing my work at Stoneworks Studios with the support of the amazing stone carving artist Michele Chapin. I know many in the community that can credit her with encouraging them to put their art careers first. She introduced me to so many people and artists. From there I met Christina Diaz of Evolved magazine and get to be part of the awesome VC Art Market that she puts together ever second Saturday of the month. I have gotten to collaborate with Mychal Arata, an inspiring origami artist. Work on projects with John Rose, a fantastic photographer. And plan the 27th ArtWalk Ventura with so many fantastic artists: Sarah Flesher, Jen Livia, Michelle Nosco, Jason Brock, Christine Ballestero, and Sharon Taylor. Just to name a few.
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