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

Hi Jessica, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
I’ve always been an active person with multiple jobs and projects going on at any given time, so trying to find a work/ life balance has always been a constant for me. I always want to do everything and be there for everyone, which can sometimes get stressful. The older I get the more I have on my plate in terms of life priorities, so learning to say no and not undertake so much has been one of the biggest life lessons I’m still trying to master. I’m learning that its okay to focus on one thing at a time.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m a bit of a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to my work. I love color and texture. I love to experiment with new techniques and mediums, so I never really know what my next personal art project will be made of or how big (or small) it may be. Not knowing what it could be is part of the fun! However, when I’m working with a company or client, I tend to be very strict with myself. I strive to give my clients exactly what they want, with a few of my creative suggestions sprinkled in here or there. As an example, I once drew over 40 different versions of a design, each slightly modified, to give a company plenty of options to choose from.  I’m sure many design professionals would look down on that type of creative process but I love to provide for my clients.  Starting out was hard; I didn’t have much faith in my work and was constantly comparing myself to other artists. Social media is an amazing tool for creatives but it can also be intimidating, so when I started posting a few drawings and paintings I felt vulnerable and nervous. The idea of receiving criticism from strangers was hard for me, but i knew I had to at least try. Since then my work has been well received and it has led to many wonderful opportunities, connections, and new friends. I would encourage anyone who is feeling apprehensive about putting their work out there to just do it because you never know what amazing things could come from it.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would recommend they stay at Hotel McCoy to see the dozens of amazing murals from local Tucson artists. For drinks, The Shelter Cocktail Lounge for delicious martinis and a groovy 1960’s atmosphere! For a fun food variety, I would recommend American Eat Company in South Tucson, a modern food court that offers a rich variety of local cuisine.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to thank Hotel McCoy, a fantastic mid-century modern art hotel in Tucson, Arizona, for believing in my abilities as an artist. They gave me a platform to really step out of my comfort zone and paint my first major mural, opening up the floodgates of opportunity for me.  I’d also like to thank my fiance, Matt, for constantly encouraging and supporting me, it’s meant the world.

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Image Credits
Personal photo- Joshua C. Williams