I hope you're all having an amazing week so far. I want to introduce you to a gorgeous South African artist named Jessica who is the owner of Watercolour Heart.
Before Jessica sent me her answers to our Women With Heart questions, I took a peek at her website and social media. Here's what I observed - she is beautiful, she looks like she would be super lovely and kind, she is crazy talented and looks like the type of girl who I would love to chat with over a cup of coffee.
Once Jessica sent me her interview answers, all the things I observed about her were right, however, there was so much more to her story. Her watercolour illustrations aren't just beautiful drawings on a piece of paper. With every stroke of her brush, a little piece of her story and heart is painted into every custom illustration she undertakes.
• Tell us a little bit about yourself ...
Hi, I’m Jess, an illustrator from South Africa. I live in beautiful Cape Town with my lovely boyfriend Nate and I am in the process of completing a BA in Fine Art as well as running a small personalised illustration business called Watercolour Heart.
• What events in your life have brought you to where you are now?
I can’t ever remember a time in my life where I wasn't making something- making my own cards, paper dolls, games, cutting up my clothes (God bless the mothers of creatives) and other activities. My grandmother was a phenomenal artist so she gave me my first painting lesson at 5 or 6 and holding a brush or pencil in my hand has been the most natural thing ever since. Ironically, Watercolour Heart started out as a result of a series of unfortunate events. In August 2014, my grandmother passed away. It was a pivotal point in my life, as I had never lost a loved one before. She was a phenomenal artist, teacher, and friend who coached me and inspired my curiosity and desire to create. When she passed, she bequeathed her white watercolour paint box to me. I did not open or use it until June 2015 when I suffered severe nerve damage to my left hand leaving it paralysed. I managed to push through my mid year exam exhibition with the help of my incredibly supportive friends and then left Cape Town to stay with family and start intensive therapy for my hand.
All of a sudden, I had plenty of free time, my grandmother’s watercolour paint box, and an opportunity to turn the year around. Creating is a language for me; it is how I express gratitude or affection. I use it as a means to discuss issues in everyday life, and how they can be solved through creative direction. Watercolour Heart became my language for finding a positive outcome for a difficult few months. I started using a fine liner and the paints to create a unique illustration style. After a while, I decided to poll a response from the public to my illustrations of their photographs. I could not believe the incredible response I got in a very short time. Before I embarked on my Fine Arts Degree, I completed a year of Economics at University. I have always had a keen business interest, so this was the perfect opportunity to combine the two.
• What’s the one thing you would do if you knew you could not fail?
I would graduate and go straight into running Watercolour Heart as a personalised illustration and print shop. I have a year before I complete my honours so there is time to make it a reality - I think there’s something great in knowing the possibility of failure exists and doing things anyway, it says that our hearts know that there are more important things than failure and the fear of it.
• What is something in your life you’re proud of?
Proud is a tricky word for me because I don’t believe than anything is solely the success of one individual, so rather I am actually really humbled by the amount of love and support in my life. I have a beautiful family, a wonderful partner and absolutely stunning friends that just remind me every day that life is a gift and inspire me to live mine.
• If you could go back five years and give yourself a piece of advice, what would that advice be?
I used to be petrified of failure, I was so anxious and stressed all the time. I would say sleeping, eating and living a balanced life are more conducive to achieving success in the long term, achieving your goals and dreams is a long distance run not a sprint.
• What has failure taught you?
Failure has taught me that anything is possible and that the concept of failure is purely based on perspective. If you believe that failing is the end of the world, that your talent and passion will dissolve the moment you ‘fail’ then it will - but if you believe that failing is more problem solving than a final wrong answer then you will be able to work through obstacles with courage and a fearlessness that will make your goals achievable.
• In your opinion, what is the greatest misconception about success?
I think there is a great misconception that you need to climb a certain number of rungs up a ladder to be successful, often that ladder is someone else’s idea of success and not your own. You don’t need to push yourself harder to be successful, you just need to be consistent in working hard and acting on your own talent and goals.
• Do you or have you, ever felt like you have no idea what you’re doing and you’re just faking it till you make it?
I think yes and no, definitely yes when it comes to learning about certain aspects of owning a business that I don’t have tons of experience in like social media and putting together my own website - I literally click the button and hope it works at times. However, I always know why I am doing what I am doing and try to always be authentic in my intentions.
• To you - what is a Women With Heart?
I think a Woman With Heart is a woman who has passion and purpose, her passion is the fuel that keeps her going and her purpose is the direction or the road map as to where that passion takes her. A Woman With Heart values community over competition and truly considers the people around her, engaging with them with sensitivity and kindness
... Okay, now on to the fun questions!
• Doughnuts, Ice cream or cookies?
• Favourite colour?
I really love green. It’s so fresh and full of life.
• Cats or dogs?
Definitely dogs, (I am currently bribing my boyfriend to get one)
• One thing you can’t live without?
My family, which is more than one thing because we are a big family but they’re loud and wonderful and the lights of my life.
- Thank you so much, Jessica. It was so lovely to hear your story and get a behind the scenes look into Watercolour Heart. I love your perspective on failure and success. "Achieving your goals and dreams is a long-distance run, not a sprint" - we could all use this reminder from time to time!
Visit Jessica on her website WatercolourHeart and on Instagram @watercolour_heart_illustration.
If you would like to be interviewed or would like to suggest someone to be interviewed for our Women With Heart blog series, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s chat.
See you next Wednesday for another instalment of WWH! xx
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