Committed to Living a Creative Life – Interview with Jessica Long

More so than ever, our community of makers is being called to commit even deeper to living a creative life. Art brings beauty and balance into not only our own lives, but into the lives of others. Our role, as creative people, is essential.

Jessica Long was drawn to the arts from a young age. Like many of us, Jessica picked a more practical route in college and started her first career in the biotech sector.

After the birth of her son, Jessica picked-up hand embroidery as a way to relax and feed her creative spirit. She began sharing her journey on social media, and was encouraged by her rapidly growing following, to start selling her finished work and embroidery patterns online.

Jessica never returned to the biotech field. She is a full time mother, artist and business owner. She focuses on teaching hand embroidery, creating innovative designs and offering quality hand embroidery supplies.

I have been watching the career of Jessica Long Embroidery develop for several years. Jessica is proof that making a living doing what you love doesn’t just happen. It is the result of dedication and commitment. I was happy to have a moment of Jessica’s time for this interview. The popularity of embroidery during the pandemic has kept Jessica hopping!

Becky: Was there a memorable moment when you knew you wanted to make art and being creative a full-time job?
Jessica: I’ve always dreamt of being a professional artist but I was stuck because I believed it wouldn’t be possible for me. I was lucky that doors opened for me when they did, making the leap into a creative job more of a gentle walk! My husband and I decided that I would take a year off of work after the birth of my son, but during that year we relocated to an area with few job opportunities for me. I was facing a career change and thinking about going back to school when I picked up hand embroidery and began sharing my creations on social media. In the beginning I was just making embroidery art for friends and I didn’t believe that my hobby could grow into a business. But I still remember the day I had my first sale on Etsy. A stranger out there actually wanted my embroidery art! I couldn’t believe it. Today I can.

Becky: In the beginning, what types of choices did you need to make in order to live a committed created life that also supported you financially?
Jessica: I’ve had to adapt to demand, transitioning from creating custom embroidery art to creating patterns and educational resources. At first that was a hard decision because I feel so attached to my art. It didn’t feel right having other people copy it! But now I love seeing other people use my patterns to explore their own creativity. Also, I have to make patterns that have a wide appeal. I do give myself time to create weird stuff I want to make, but I need to set my expectations low for how well those designs sell (if at all!)

Becky: Did you have a mentor or a role model?
Jessica: Well duh Becky it’s you! But I do have other women in my life who I regularly call and bounce ideas off of. In my previous career I had a whole office full of coworkers to talk to and connect with. Sometimes I just talk to myself out loud to work through a problem, or I’ll ask my cats what they think. But it’s been a great practice to actually pick up the phone and feedback from another human!

Becky: Was there ever a time where you weren’t sure how you were going to keep moving forward with your commitment to living a creative life? What did you do?
Jessica: I’ve definitely had days when I’ve felt discouraged. I made a mistake on an order, a kit launch flopped, another company is illegally selling my designs, a huge order got lost in the mail, a critical kit component is discontinued, etc. My first gut response to these problems is to throw in the towel, which is very dramatic and silly. Instead, I take the action I can towards a solution, doing my best to create an opportunity for growth as a business woman. I then have to let it go and move on. I’ve made lots of mistakes over the past few years and I try my best to learn from them and apply the lessons to future experiences and decisions.

Becky: What does a typical morning routine look like for you?
Jessica: Mornings are a little crazy until I get my son to school! But lately I’ve gotten in the habit of going right to my little meditation corner the second I get home from dropping him off. I do some readings and journaling. And I enjoy a quiet cup of coffee! From there it’s order fulfillment and replying to emails before jumping into my to do list for the day.

Becky: Do you have any particular habits or practices that you routinely practice to help you stay creative?
Jessica: Keeping a playful, childlike attitude towards creating art really helps! I like to doodle and play with color and leave all judgement out of the process. I’m lucky that I have a five-year-old boy who is always up for making things with play-dough or chalk. He is a great inspiration! I also try to approach everything I do through a creative lens. Making dinner, tidying up, even folding laundry.

Becky: How do you motivate yourself to be creative?
Jessica: Honestly, I rarely need to motivate myself to be creative, but it helps to have lots of fun creative projects easily accessible.

I’m more likely to pick up a project that I’m excited about and that is easy to start because I’ve already got all of the supplies assembled and ready to go. The key is to have that project be easier to pick up than my phone!

Becky: What would you say your top three strengths are?
Jessica: Oh no I feel like I’m at a job interview! I’m patient, willing to try new things, and teachable. I hope I don’t lose any of these strengths as I continue to grow in my creative business and in life!

Becky: How does living a life of being creative enhance your level of happiness?
Jessica: I get so much joy out of creating things, I really don’t know how I would live without it!

Becky: Are there any books that you have enjoyed or would recommend to people who would like to live a more committed creative life?
Jessica: If you don’t believe you are creative and are looking for a place to start check out “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” and get out some pencils! Drawing is the foundation for so many creative arts and this book is really amazing at “creating” artists. Many people come to me asking how they can create their own embroidery designs if they don’t know how to draw and I always tell them to go buy that book!

Thank you Jessica! You are a joy and inspiration!

See more of Jessica’s work!

Jessica’s Book! (September 21, 2020)

Jessica Long has a book being released September 21, 2020! It can be pre-ordered here.

From Amazon description:

These 30 super cute animal projects come with step-by-step instructions and feature lovely floral details. Included is basic introductory information about selecting materials and supplies, safety, essential techniques—including how to transfer templates, how to set up a double hoop, finishing techniques, and more—and a helpful stitch guide. You’ll also find more modern techniques for blending and creating depth, texture, and personality within each whimsical design. A must-have guide for practiced embroiderers of any level, Animal Embroidery Workbook will make you smile as you accomplish hoop after hoop!

Designed and written by author Jessica Long, a popular embroidery artist and the founder of Jessica Long Embroidery where she shares her patterns, kits, tutorials, and more, Animal Embroidery Workbook is a delightful one-of-a-kind project book packed with clear, easily usable embroidery patterns, helpful diagrams, and insightful tips.

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