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

Hi Jessie, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
In the last two years I went from working over 40 hours a week painting sets for theater, TV, and events as a scenic artist in New York City to working for myself at home with no fixed schedule in Los Angeles (a big shift, some would say). Working for myself has been a dream come true. I remember not really having a sense of balance at all when I lived in New York because I would work for 9-12 hours a day, take the train home to Brooklyn, and feel so exhausted I barely had the energy to do anything else. Now, while it’s sometimes challenging to stick with a routine end to the workday, I have so much more energy and flexibility to actually see friends, family, and explore this beautiful city. I try to take at least one day completely off every week. This day of rest has become incredibly restorative and allows for me to feel more creative, present, and positive about my work.

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 artistic style has changed a lot over the years. While the creative process often felt somewhat confusing and painful, I needed a lot of time and space to explore different styles and mediums. Eventually I landed with this colorful, dreamlike aesthetic, using primarily colored pencils and paper, that explores inner emotional life. This new body of work feels very aligned with the kind of art I want to make. Once I began leaning into this new medium and style, things really started clicking for me professionally.

There have been so many challenges in making a living as an artist in general, but especially in an expensive city like Los Angeles. I constantly have to remind myself that if making art is a lifelong pursuit, I have to accept that I can’t have everything I desire all at once. For me, slow and steady progress is a much more pleasant way of operating than frantically trying to pump out work or keep up with the fast-paced nature of the world these days.

As an introvert and someone who didn’t study visual art in college, sometimes it’s difficult to muster up the energy and courage to put myself out there, but I’ve gained so much from the practice of allowing my work and my whole self to be seen. Submitting to open calls, sending kind and thoughtful emails, and making genuine connections within my community has been a buoy in an otherwise overwhelming and entirely subjective line of work. Right now, I’m most excited about a commission I just completed for a Young Adult novel for Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, artwork that was included on set in Season 2 of Euphoria, and a self-produced solo exhibition slated for 2023 that showcases this new body of work.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
See a movie at Hollywood Forever Cemetery; Eat at Greekman’s in Silverlake; Take a walk around the Hollywood Reservoir; Eat the dan dan noodles and dumplings at Pine and Crane; Get some kombucha and avocado toast at Verve Coffee Roasters; Treat yourself to a dinner at Bavel downtown; Visit the Getty and the Getty Villa; Get some hiking/beach time at Point Dume in Malibu; Find some vintage gems at Melrose Trading Post; See a show at Troubador in West Hollywood; Eat Persian food at Attari in Westwood, Raffi’s in Glendale, or Darya in Santa Monica; See a movie at Los Feliz Theater; Grab tacos at Loqui in Culver City; Visit Skylight Books in Los Feliz; Stop in to every cute shop and restaurant on Glendale Boulevard in Atwater Village; Eat the omakase at Sugarfish; Buy tickets to a show at Hollywood Improv; Lay out a picnic at Silverlake Reservoir; Treat yourself to wine from Wine + Eggs in Atwater Village or Helen’s Wines; Go on a hike at Griffith Park/Griffith Observatory; Get breakfast at Sidecar Donuts; Explore the garden center of your dreams at Rolling Greens in Culver City; Savor some ice cream from Jeni’s Icecream, Salt & Straw, and Magpies Softserve.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The Scenery Department at The Public Theater. The Public is a very special place to many creative people in New York. Working as a scenic artist with and under the guidance of Hugh Morris-Stan and Tacy Flaherty taught me so much about working as a team, supporting one another, and remembering to have fun above all else. I really loved that job and The Public will forever hold a special place in my heart as an artistic home.

My high school art teacher, Ms. Alexander, let me take AP art both my junior and senior year, despite having just transferred to the school and not having any of the required prerequisites. We actually butted heads quite a bit – I was always trying to sell my artwork to my classmates while she wanted to enter it into local art competitions on behalf of the school. Regardless, I love her a lot and she really gave me a chance to explore all my weird little ideas and championed my creativity. To have that kind of love and support at that age is paramount.

Website: http://www.jessiemahon.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jessiemahon_/

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