Jess Newitt is an inspiration. She is a full time art teacher and Head of Department at a high school in Bundaberg and has made time to focus on her arts practice and doing even more of what she loves - teaching! I've known Jess for many years and it has been such a joy to watch her work evolve since making the decision to invest time into her practice. Her passion is contagious.
Here is a recent interview I did with Jess...
1. What inspired you to make the move to starting a business based on your creative practice?
Two years ago, I took 6 months long service leave from my regular job and whilst on leave I finally set up my art studio. I began to sell my works via social media, and I enrolled in a few online art courses. I travelled to NSW to attend a two-day intuitive painting course and I absolutely loved the idea of running workshops and courses. A friend then asked me to run a paint and sip style night at my house and then I kept getting more and more people wanting me to run workshops, so I did.
I then attended a Makers shopfront 2-day workshop and pitched my business plan to a room full of creatives. This was quite scary for me as I am not a fan of public speaking, but the support was overwhelming, and I made a lot of great local connections. Shortly after this I created a real business plan and since then I have run over 20 workshops and now have my work in 3 local stores.
2. What products and services do you offer?
I offer a range workshops and painting courses including Whimsical Watercolours, Mixed Media Painting, Uncork Your Imagination, and a 4-week Abstract Botanical course.
Uncork Your Imagination is always popular as you get to learn how I create a mixed media painting whilst having a drink with your friends. I have just started running kids’ art classes over the school holidays and I am looking at running regular ones during the school term.
I sell my original paintings as well as a variety of tote bags, marble coasters, coolers and aprons which all have my original artworks printed on them. I also hand paint cards that are popular at a few local stores.
3. What have been your biggest learnings as a business owner since kickstarting your art making and classes?
The most important thing that I have learnt so far is how much people need art and creativity in their lives. I have just recently finished my diploma in Art Therapy, and I really want to help others through art because I know how much it has helped me.
In the past two years I have learnt not to be afraid of what others think and to make time for me and for my art. I used to be worried about showing other people my art but now I can’t wait to post it online, hang it in our home or to plan another class to help inspire others. I have been practicing and studying art for almost 30 years and teaching it for 19 years and I can’t believe it took this long to finally share it with others.
4. Is there a pearl of wisdom you would like to share with your fellow artists and makers?
Do what makes you happy, be creative and don’t ever stop learning. One of my favourite quotes which is in my studio and my art classroom is...
“Creativity takes courage.” Henri Matisse
Thanks Jess! Looking forward to seeing you continue to thrive and spread that joy with others.