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Faceless Portraits, Jessica Hughee

When I interviewed Rita Kwong, A Little Drawer, I’d expressed that I’m fairly easy-to-please when it comes to appreciating art. If I like it, I like it ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Think in terms of ‘Ratatouille’,

Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.

Ratatouille, 2007

Many think that art can only be found in museums and traveling art shows for a limited-time-only. The term ‘art’ is reserved for the Sistine Chapel and Banksy’s shredded painting but art shouldn’t be elitist. It shouldn’t be rare, extravagant, and indulgent; not always. In many cases, such as Rita’s, I found her artwork online, not in a museum, and, for the most part, everyone has access to the Internet.

Jessica Hughee, the creator of Faceless Portraits, I found on Instagram when our mutual friend Amy posted the portrait below.

I knew immediately I had to learn who created this gem of a gem. From Jessica’s website, I learned she’s a freelancer who also serves as the Creative Director at The Gathering Harlem, a new church planted in Harlem, NY. While I didn’t get a chance to sit down with her over a cup of coffee, I found that her answers to my questions via e-mail were blatantly sincere and excited, as if we had met over coffee. This is a woman who takes great pride in her work and rightfully so!

When I asked about the different mediums she chooses to use (graphic design, photography, and videography), she started, Not to sound cheesy, but I think the creative life chose me because the passion has been there for as long as I can remember. In the very beginning, I wanted to be an actor. I soon discovered that this profession wasn’t my forte but I knew that I wanted to be in the creative field.

When I was in undergrad, I became the VP of Marketing for my sorority and the Historian for the Black Student Union on my campus and both roles required me to have some sort of knowledge on marketing and content creation. Because of these experiences, I got to build up my craft; I bought a DSLR, downloaded Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Premiere and I would just practice. At times, I can be pretty shy and reserved in person so creating content like vlogs and blog posts helped me to express myself.

I want self-confidence to be seen through my work. As a photographer and someone who struggles with self-confidence from time to time, it brings me joy to see my client’s faces light up when they see how their pictures came out.

One day, I could see myself experimenting with motion graphics! When I create graphics, sometimes I think adding special effects to them would give it a dope touch.

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When I write blog posts (especially about mental wellness), I find that I learn more about myself. Whether one person is impacted by my work, or one hundred, at the end of the day, I still gain something from it. 

I asked Jessica about maintaining that same confidence when it comes to taking on commissions. Although some of the greatest art pieces are commissions, sometimes the client’s and the artist’s visions don’t align, but I can tell you from firsthand experience that Jessica’s easy to work with. In my opinion, her work is pretty stellar on the first try.

Ask any artist how they feel about their art, commissioned or otherwise, and I can guarantee you’ll hear the term ‘imposter syndrome’ a couple of times. Self-validation isn’t always readily available, something Jessica’s written about.

I touched on how I would begin to doubt myself when I wouldn’t receive compliments on my work. Going on social media can also allow for self-doubt to creep in because you see other creative’s work and it’s really easy to compare. I’d have to say that my faith and pep-talks with myself help out a lot: whether it be through attending church or prayer, those moments help me to remember my purpose. I once read a quote that said “another woman’s beauty does not take away from your own.” I strongly believe that this can apply to one’s talent as well.

I hope you find rest in knowing that you are exactly where you need to be. You’re not trying, you’re doing.

I AM NOT SUPERWOMAN, AND THAT’S OKAY: DEALING WITH IMPOSTER SYNDROME, Jessica Hughee

When I first began freelancing, discussing compensation was scary for me because I wasn’t confident in my work. My main fear was charging too much only for me to do a poor job. I know [now] that I can’t charge what I used to — I’ve grown too much to charge too little.

I just hope that my work will continue to get better. Back then, I wouldn’t have thought that I could create what I have today. When I look at my resume and see how much my work has evolved, that motivates me to keep stepping out of the box and continue to experiment.

And as Jessica keeps breaking the mold and experimenting, I then asked her about her sources of inspiration. Sometimes inspiration just pops up but most of the time, inspiration needs to be pursued. The pursuit sometimes requires research—

I was going to say Pinterest [is my most random source of inspiration] but that’s like the number one place to find inspiration, so I’d probably have to say drinking a latte in my room. I love drinking coffee/lattes but they tend to get me anxious. I began to wonder how people consume caffeine other than espresso. With some research and experimenting with different drinks, I created my post “5 Non-Coffee Beverages To Give You A Boost.

Art in its simplest form is an expression and its audience is just as important as its medium. Every artist has a target audience but that doesn’t mean they don’t hit unintended marks. We all know the joy of bonding over a song we didn’t think our counterpart would enjoy so I asked Jessica if it surprises her that people say they admire her work, still or moving.

Oh yes! It’s easy to think that the people around us have it all together but people will reach out to me, saying that they’re struggling in the same area and they’ll thank me for posting. Moments like that remind me that it’s completely normal to feel what I’m feeling.

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Art is vulnerable, which is scary, but as Jessica proves, it’s more than worth it.

some fun facts about Jessica:

She’s a Scorpio originally from New York. She lived in South Florida for over a decade, where she received her BA in Media Studies: Film and Video from Florida Atlantic University. She returned to the Empire State in 2016 to earn her MA in Media Studies at The New School, where she received the opportunity to intern for The Style and Beauty Doctor, Vivrant Beauty, and Swivel Beauty, three brands that are geared towards self-confidence and beauty for women of color. Aside from her role as Creative Director at The Gathering Harlem, she runs Jessica Hughee Photography and jessicahughee.com, a lifestyle blog that focuses on beauty, fashion, faith, and photography. Also, cats and Christmastime bring her so much joy!

Follow her on Instagram @JessicaHughee

P.S. – she also did my faceless portrait (my hair was orange at the time and I have different glasses now), but trust me when I say that this will make a great gift for someone. Even if it’s yourself!

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Jus Tri

My emotional outlet used to be dancing, but I switched it for writing… or at least for Microsoft Word. I collect used books, people-watch, and always need to shop with a friend because I’m an indecisive person who needs motivation to spend money. I am @franksmycousin on all forms of social media. Feel free to tag me in anything you think would inspire me! Hollaback.

What are your thoughts?