We had the good fortune of connecting with Jill Sans and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jill, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
Work life balance has changed significantly over this year, a forced change. Prior to 2020, only a couple years of starting my little business, The HeArt Box, everything felt like a push. Keeping up with a constant momentum, go was the word I associated with the most. Time spent not going meant lost time. Stepping into this year was busy for me, felt like big things set on the horizon, I just had to keep going and then March rolled around and I came to an abrupt stop. This was a forced and very much needed for work life balance, what is needed for my work to be balanced and what is needed for life. I am not one to even separate the two so much, I love my work and therefore try to integrate it all together, as an artist my life is my work and vice versa. I think I examined what exactly is work and what are the parts of life that need to be fed and nurtured. The balance came in recognizing that the things that feed my soul, that nurture life maybe out weighed the work part, a traditional view of work. These things were so important and before got swept to the side for when there was time. Balance is a dance. The scale is always changing and I think to hold myself too tightly to any regimented idea of within that leads to unbalance. I find balance through a daily check in, what are the needs, priorities and then just flat out realistic expectations for the day, within that is what I have to work with. I set time aside for future goals and planning, with that I try to balance where I am now, today, with where I am trying to get too. This year has taught me so much about going with the flow. Dancing from moment to moment, balancing immediate needs with hopes and dreams. Being a full time artist, running a gallery with other artists is the same way. There has to be an assessment of all the needs and then go from what is most important to what can wait, in there making time for the life, the inspiration and experiences. I can’t do the work without the life, as art is storytelling of that which comes from our experiences. I have had to reexamine what work is, if I am doing what I love then the idea of work changes. It becomes an outward expression of my inner world, life. So that is how the balance has shifted, from an my inner world to the outer bigger world. The balance is needed for me to have the desire to make the work, the art. If I haven’t eaten right, slept well and such my work suffers so the two feed each other. It is easy to see when the balance is off.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a mandala artist, I paint from a meditative place of intuition and exploration. I combine stories of nature and our personal experiences, lately I have been creating work that encourages and questions our hearts; the heartbreak, opening, trusting and so on. Where I am today has been unfolding since 2012. I started just painting here and there, trying it out, little to no confidence that what I was making was even interesting. I had always doodled this way throughout life, lines, dots and shapes. I never thought it could be turned into something that others would appreciate. It has not always been easy, the hardest part has always been trusting oneself. believing that anything is possible. The not so easy part was just always showing up, showing up when there was nothing to show up for. This is where having peers, mentors is so important. Others who are on the same path, people who you can share the challenges with and just talk through it all. Extra words of encouragement from others is always a plus. I love to paint, I use primarily acrylic and dabble with other mediums. I will paint on canvas but love wood panels because I can spend time manipulating the foundation, sanding cutting and I just love the way paint and wood interact with each other. I paint from very small wood blocks to murals. I paint on walls to up cycled materials like unloved vinyl records. I just love to paint and work with different mediums. Typically the mandalas I create are my meditation practice so no 2 are ever the same, I leave an openness with these to allow myself to just create, not have a pre-planned idea just let it all flow out. I love how some of the fine detail work I do allows me to micro-focus to go in deeper to that piece, getting lost in the details. In 2018 I started a contemporary art gallery in downtown Flagstaff called The HeArt Box. The timing was right to run with something that was needed for myself and others. I want others to know about myself as well as this little hidden gem of a gallery. The HeArt Box is about heart, our stories of human experience, that which connects us. I just think art right now is so important. I want others to see beauty and be inspired, to keep showing up on whatever journey they are on.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Living here in Northern Arizona there is so much to see around us. We would spend quite a bit of time outside, hoping they came in the summertime, swimming at the creek and hiking around amongst the wildflowers and other plants. And speaking of plants, The Arboretum can be one of my favorite places to check out, plants and a view! Hanging out at night under the stars maybe by a fire. Places to eat and drink would be one of my all time favorites Flag Terroir. This hidden gem is right above my art gallery, some of the best food and incredible wine selection plus the vibe is pretty chill with board games. Interesting people and places around town, might just be hanging out in Heritage Square on a busy downtown day and just watching people, listening to the buskers and maybe an interesting encounter with local friends.
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?
Being an entrepreneur and artist, there are always so many others helping along the way from encouragement. When you start out it is usually your friends and family that buy all of your work, they are your foundation. There really would be too many individuals to list. Other artists, business owners provide a tremendous amount of help and support, we all feed each other weaknesses to make us all stronger. One person though helped shaped the path, my high school art teacher, Mr. Morrison. He always made sure the art room was accessible, it became an escape from study hall and more time to create. He was always very encouraging.