(Cover Photo: Daniel Fortune)
Have you ever accomplished something, but felt like a fraud in the process? It’s a struggle known as imposter syndrome that photographer and digital content creator Jess knows all too well.
Five:22 Culture recently caught up with the 28-year-old New Rochelle, N.Y. native who shared some of the highs and lows that comes with making a living as a creative, and how her faith helps her balance it all. Get to know Jess!
How would you describe what you do?
I describe myself as a Digital Content Creator, specializing in portrait photography and graphic design (logos, church graphics, flyers and merchandise).
How did the idea for your new design business Jess Prints come about?
Over the past few months, I began making it a habit to set aside time to learn new design techniques. I find joy in uplifting and encouraging others through my work so as I would experiment with designs, I would share them online. After receiving positive feedback, the idea came to me that I should open up an online print shop. Although liking and saving posts on your phone is great to refer back to, it’s been said that it helps our memories when we post reminders on our walls. I created Jess Prints for those who need words of encouragement and would like to add a little pizzazz to their homes and workspaces.
How would you describe Jess Prints aesthetic and what’s your inspiration?
I would describe Jess Prints’ aesthetic as colorful and nostalgic. The 80s and 90s is my inspiration – vintage movie posters, fashion, you name it. Although we can’t go back in time, we are able to relive it in the present, and I like to do this with my editing and design style.
Congratulations on your brand new launch, this is super exciting! What has been one of the most rewarding parts of your Jess Prints creative journey so far?
Thank you! I would say that the most rewarding part is realizing that I could do it. Trying new things can be a nerve-wracking experience. It was an idea that I’ve had for a few months, so it’s great to see that it’s finally out there!
What is one of the bigger challenges that you face as a Christian creative and how does your faith help you overcome it?
I’d have to say comparison and imposter syndrome has been one of my biggest challenges. For those who don’t know, imposter syndrome is “the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills.” In other words, you feel as if you are a fraud and that you only got to where you are by luck.
I once read a quote that says “Another woman’s beauty does not take away from your own,” and it’s stuck with me ever since. I like to rephrase it whenever I struggle with imposter syndrome and comparison: another creative’s talent does not take away from my own. I am not a fraud and I am not where I am by coincidence – I have been blessed with this gift. As long as I continue to nurture it and rely on God, the one who gave me the gift in the first place, I will be just fine.
I actually wrote about my struggles with imposter syndrome on my blog. Hopefully it blesses someone!
What has your faith journey been like? If you were raised in church, how did you come to have your own personal relationship with God?
I was raised in the church. Every Sunday when I was little, my sisters and I would go to church with our parents in our matching dresses and shoes – ohh what a time. After attending a few churches over the years, my dad later became a pastor and started a church of his own when I was in my teens. I recall my dad always saying to my sisters and I, “Don’t rely on my faith.” It took me a while to fully comprehend this but I get it now. We can’t solely rely on someone else to pray for us, or to get us up in the morning to pray or to go to church — we have to make that commitment on our own.
As an adult, my parents don’t make me go to church: I make the personal choice to go. My faith journey has been quite an experience, especially over the past couple of years. I’m not completely where I need to be but I’m glad that I made the choice to continue to follow Him.
It’s been an interesting 2 years with the COVID-19 pandemic and social injustices that have impacted our world. Have these or anything else that has happened in society or culture impacted your brand or creative process? If so, can you explain how?
Oh yes! COVID-19 and the social injustices in (the U.S) definitely impact[ed] my creative process and mental health. My mind would go in and out of a dark place, trying to process what’s happening in the world, while also trying to process the changes in my personal life. Because life as we’ve known it has changed, I’ve had to find healthy outlets and seek different ways to find inspiration. Working remotely as a freelancer makes it more of a challenge for creativity to flow since most of my inspiration came from being outside and experiencing life.
In the media, it’s difficult to see images of people of color being killed and depicted in a negative light. Seeing these images push me to portray my people in a beautiful light through my work, because beautiful is exactly what we are.
What is something that encourages you that you can share with someone reading this?
Recently, I was struggling with creative block for a graphic with a deadline that was creeping up. After spending a whole day trying to put something together, I went to sleep and told myself that I would try again the next day. The following morning, I started off with a prayer, telling God that He is the ultimate Creator and I asked Him to use me to create a visual that He wants His people to see. Thankfully that same day, I created a graphic that ended up being very well received.
One thing I know for sure is when you try to force something, it won’t work. Take care of yourself, get some sleep, and find ways in which you can get inspiration. God, being the creator of all things, has never-ending ideas and He will give them to you in His perfect timing.
Five:22 Culture was inspired by the Bible verse Galatians 5:22 that talks about the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Which of these resonates most with you in this season?
Peace, faithfulness, kindness, and patience. Entrepreneurship and freelancing are exciting but I find that it takes a lot of peace, faithfulness, kindness, and patience as I build up my business and brand. There will be slow seasons when it seems like no one sees you or your work – that’s when you really need to be grounded and remember your purpose.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with Five:22 Culture, either the other creatives that visit the site or people who love artistic expression?
Yes! My cousin, Carol, will be releasing a podcast this month called “Well and Informed,” and I will frequent as a guest co-host. It’s a Christian podcast that will share advice, information, and resources pertaining to the many different dimensions of wellness as a whole. The Instagram page is @wellandinformed.
How can we continue to support what you’re doing?
Sharing my work means a lot! I appreciate when people do so because it brings me closer to those who I’m meant to reach. My website is jessicahughee.com and you can follow me @jessicahughee on Instagram, Twitter, and Tik Tok.