Journal your thoughts to organize creativity and combat the mental gymnastics that is“entrepreneurship”. I’m a big proponent of taking action, but it’s just as important to have quiet time for yourself. There’s a lot that takes place in an entrepreneur’s head whether that’s big picture ideas, mindsets, or beliefs, you have to get them out and on paper in order to reflect and work through them. The self-reflection time is a total power move. It’s also a great way to clock the emotional growth you’ve made over time.
As a part of our series about “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became An Artist”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jessica Hitchcock. Jessica creates colorful and joy-filled paintings, which is why the Ladue News dubbed her “St. Louis’s Queen of Color”. Her work hangs in corporate offices and health facilities across the region along with private collections throughout six countries including Italy, The Netherlands, Mexico, The United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States. In 2020, during a global pandemic, Jessica sold $55,000+ of her artwork and she uses her experience, along with her business background, to help other artists establish a sustainable foundation for their art careers.
Thank you so much for joining us. What is the “backstory” behind what brought you to this point in your career?
Since high school, I wanted to be an artist, but instead of following that dream, I pursued a career in business in order to land a job at an art organization and tie my love of art and business together. I have a business degree (BBA) and 10+ years of experience in business but painting was always the career I wanted to pursue, deep down. In 2015, I picked it back up while I was the Director of Finance and HR for a non-profit in St. Louis, and over a few years, it grew into an almost second full-time job. I’d set my alarm for 4:30 in the morning to get a painting done before heading into my 9–5, then back to painting again in the evenings and weekends. I made the decision to transition from my position at the non-profit and go all-in on my art business in 2019, and now along with creating artwork, I have an online course for artists that teaches them the business side to growing a sustainable, profitable, and fulfilling art career.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?
The first thing that comes to mind is the day I became famous… at my local Costco. Back in 2018, French wine producer George Dubeouf chose my artwork to design their Beaujolais Nouveau sold to Costco stores across the US. It’s a worldwide tradition for that style of wine to hit the shelves on the third Thursday in November so there I was heaving cases of the wine with my artwork on the case and label into my cart. Every single complete stranger that passed me learned the reason why my cart was overflowing with cases of the particular wine! I found myself at my first unofficial bottle signing that night when a few shoppers asked that I sign their bottle. The hype landed me a booth at the store that same weekend to sign wine bottles for local shoppers. I felt like such a celebrity.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I’m currently working on a 7ft x 10ft painting for an organization here in St. Louis, MO called Rung for Women. Their mission is to help women living on the edge of poverty climb into the middle class each year by offering professional and emotional support and resources. They requested a colorful abstract in my style and I’m honored to create one of the largest paintings I’ve ever worked on up to this point for this incredible organization.
I’m also creating a signature online summit for artists that will launch this spring. It will have 10 interviews and each one will have a tangible takeaway for listeners to implement in their businesses. It’s free to listen with the option to upgrade for lifetime access and every penny brought in will be donated to charity. I love helping artists at any level while also giving back to a cause I believe in and want to support.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
Cabaret singer, international vocalist, and comedian named Amy Armstrong is one of the most interesting people I know. She’ll blow you away with her voice and will have you in stitches with her comedy. Amy performs in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico six months out of the year then tours internationally throughout the rest of the year, anywhere from a cruise ship sailing the Danube in eastern Europe or a festival in the heart of Toronto, Canada.
In 2015, St. Louis became Amy’s home base and I was lucky enough that our paths crossed and we became friends. Our worlds collided in the best way. We supported each other’s work & Amy began collecting my art. By 2018 when she traveled back to Mexico, Amy invited my husbands’ 3-piece acoustic group to perform for 2 weeks with her. Hitchcock and the Hitmen were rebranded as Amy and the Hitmen for the adventure.
She offered me my own spotlight too. Painting live wasn’t new to me and the collaboration just made sense. I packed my paintbrushes next to my flip-flops, excited to find the local art store when I arrived to get the rest of my supplies.
Painting on stage during a live musical performance in Mexico was exhilarating, but I won’t lie, when the stage lights began changing colors during the performance, I felt a little out of my element. I had no sense of what colors I was painting. I just had to laugh to myself, keep painting, and enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime experience.
I’ll never forget on that same trip, sitting on the public transportation bus in Mexico, the inside painted a bright blue, and here I was balancing a 20” canvas of a doughnut wearing a sombrero on my lap. Naturally, I got some curious looks from the locals.
Where do you draw inspiration from? Can you share a story about that?
Just this morning, someone I follow on Instagram received and shared a vibrant pink, red, and orange floral bouquet, created by forist Casey Godlove. The color combinations were absolutely stunning so I took a screenshot on my phone and immediately saved it in my ‘color inspo’ file.
Most of my inspiration comes from seeing random colors throughout my environment and taking notice of how they play and interact with each other. The colors could be in anything from advertisements to home decor, even fashion. Art and inspiration are everywhere, it just takes a little extra to notice and document it when it pops up.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I’ve had the honor to create colorful and joy-filled paintings for cancer facilities and hospitals throughout my career. The idea that my artwork can bring comfort and joy to someone that’s going through an emotionally overwhelming moment is truly fulfilling.
As a coach for artists, I share content that encourages, inspires, and empowers artists to step into their creative CEO identity for their art business. Whether they’re in a place to invest in their businesses financially with my online course Art Business Evolution, or in a phase of learning through free content, I love being able to meet and support artists wherever they are.
Also, I’m excited to share that my virtual signature summit I’m creating for artists who want to grow the business side to their art careers will have a ‘give back’ component where 100% of the money received through that project will be donated to charity.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
Setting boundaries, getting help sooner rather than later, staying on top of finances (how and why), establishing systems, and journaling your thoughts to organize creativity and combat the mental gymnastics that is“entrepreneurship.”
- Journal your thoughts to organize creativity and combat the mental gymnastics that is“entrepreneurship”. I’m a big proponent of taking action, but it’s just as important to have quiet time for yourself. There’s a lot that takes place in an entrepreneur’s head whether that’s big picture ideas, mindsets, or beliefs, you have to get them out and on paper in order to reflect and work through them. The self-reflection time is a total power move. It’s also a great way to clock the emotional growth you’ve made over time.
- Track your finances and keep up to date on them. Just like artwork can tell a story, so do the numbers. They can tell you what’s working, what’s not, and where to focus your efforts. Once you know how much revenue your art business needs to generate in order to pay the bills, create a plan on how you’ll reach your financial goals. Then, be sure to keep up on your finances consistently and check in with where you’re landing compared to where you want to be. In 2019, I had my whole financial plan laid out. I knew how much income I needed to generate, I set my goals, and I created a plan. The problem was that I got into a hamster wheel cycle. I filled my schedule to the brim with painting events, fairs, pop-ups, you name it that I didn’t create any downtime to sit with my finances and see what income I was generating versus my goals. Had I done so, I could have saved myself from a lot of stress and burnout. Scarcity mindset was in overdrive because I didn’t know where my financials were landing, all I thought was not enough so kept chasing my tail and too afraid to say ‘no’ to an opportunity. Keep up on your finances because that’s where your power as a business owner lies along with the decisions you make. You may be having the best month in the history of your business ever but never know it if you’re not keeping up with tracking your numbers.
- Organize and set up systems. There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel each time you want to raise your prices, communicate your commission process to a potential client, or post on social media. Start to notice things you do repetitively in your business and ask yourself if there’s a template you can create or a more ‘streamlined’ process you can create for yourself so you can spend more time on your artwork and less time on rote behaviors.
- Get help sooner rather than later. This is a similar theme to setting up systems because as a creative and a business owner, you need to protect your creative energy. As your business grows, the tasks will too. There are things that require your creative genius but if you’re too focused on doing everything, and not deleting tasks that don’t need your magic, you’re just taking an extra step closer to burnout and one step further from growing your business. Getting help sooner rather than waiting until you’re close to exhaustion will allow you to get organized and enjoy creating a business you love and enjoy.
- Set boundaries. Be disciplined with and protect your time. If you let just anyone get a piece of your valuable time and energy and you spend your day ‘reacting’ to every beck and call from strangers instead of establishing boundaries for your business, yourself, and your time, pretty soon you’ll stop moving the needle forward, stop getting closer to your overall goals. You’ll be trading studio time and valuable creative energy for phone calls that can wait and errands that could be done after you take care of your business first. In order to have a business that’s healthy and can really show up for your audience and customers, you have to be sure you’re taking care of yourself and your business first. That’s the best way to honor your customers, to protect your creative time and energy.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Honestly, it would be for artists to realize the fact that they can create a career from their art if they’re willing to invest the time, consistent effort, and the confidence to follow their dreams. Knowing it’s possible is the first step to making it happen. Committing to doing the work, day after day is another. I’d also want them to know the business side to having an artistic career doesn’t need to be confusing, intimidating, or take you away from creating. It can be straightforward and will make all the difference with stressing less and being able to freely create more. Art and business are not enemies, they actually go together well, and all of this is why I created my course Art Business Evolution. So artists can create artwork they love and make a living doing it.
We have been blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she just might see this.
This is a tough one but when it comes down to it, this year I’ve been truly inspired by Rachel Rodgers. She’s an honest, no-nonsense, business coach that gets right to the heart of how women entrepreneurs need to step up and claim what they were made for. If you’re a female business owner of any type, you need to be following Rachel, like yesterday. This quote from her is one that stuck with me because it’s humorous and inspiring all at once, “You were not born into the world to vacuum dust bunnies from under the bed…while your dreams get pushed to the side and your income remains stagnant.” Whether I’m listening to her podcast, HelloSeven, or any other podcast featuring her, like the Get Paid Podcast or the So Money Podcast, I’m soaking in every ounce of confidence and mindset shift she’s bringing to the table. And believe me, the table is full. Plus, I’m absolutely obsessed with all the glam photos of her on her new ranch.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!