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  • Lauren Pigford

Women in Art: Jess Tinsley - Art and Healing


Photo by Emily Gluntz Holmes @emilyholmesweddings

Jess Tinsley is an artist advocating for hope, healing, & change through her work. A native of Memphis, TN, Jess uses paint and various media to create colorful artwork that gives visual representation to feeling. Here she answers questions and gives us insight into her work, desire to help heal, and her passion as an artist.


1) Do you think of yourself as an artist, a businesswoman, or both? "First and foremost, an artist - because I've been making art and will continue to make art regardless of my ability to sell art. But I also consider myself a businesswoman because the ability to manage my business and sell my art enables me to make more art, grow my practice, and connect with more people who can be positively affected by my work."

2) Why do you do what you do?

"For a long time, I resisted the call to be an "artist" because I didn't feel talented enough and didn't think it was a sustainable career option. I had been told for so long that art was just a hobby - not a job. My need to feel accomplished and successful led me to push aside my longing to create. It took a near catastrophe in my life, a lot of therapy, and some dear, encouraging people, to get to the point where I embraced the call to create. Now that I've accepted it into my life, it seems like a natural extension of who I am.

As I've embraced my call, I'm finding that it gives me a voice to encourage others. It's important for me to use my art to offer healing to others - for them to recognize their core value and find a way to be who they are created to be. Part of that is taking away the stigma attached to mental health issues, and helping people find ways to live healthy lives by seeing themselves as valuable and worthy of health and happiness. That, and creating programs and ways for people to access mental health and medical help as needed."

3) Which local artists do you admire most?

"Frances Berry, Amy Hutcheson, Hillary Butler, Amy Carlisle, Pinkney Herbert "


4) What's your favorite thing about Memphis as a creative business professional? 

"The creative growth potential. The rawness and soul of Memphis culture. The hospitable nature of our city."

5) How do you stand out from your competitors? "I don't look at art as a competition. I look at it as a way to connect with people. Each artist brings something unique to their art if they are being honest with themselves as they create. There's room for me and other artists at the table - I just have to find the collectors out there who identify and connect with my work." 6) What is your main source of inspiration? "The tension of pain and joy in life - and the feelings that go along with that tension. I also like to incorporate words into my art and provide a visual interpretation. It's like a special language that others seem to understand and appreciate."



7) How do you get inspired to create when you are not in a creative mood?

"I just sit down with my paintbrush and start to make marks. If I just start, the creativity comes. The hardest part is getting started, so that's where discipline comes in. You have to tell yourself that the creativity will come. Knowing that, regardless of how I feel, helps me to get to work even when I don't feel like it. I also agree with the adage that creativity breeds creativity. When you regularly create, it becomes second nature and it feels weird to not be in that artistic process." 

8) Advice for other females trying to make a career in the arts industry?

  • "Have courage. It's hard to show and have confidence in your work. "

  • "Start before you feel ready. The need to have art prepared for shows will propel you to make work and make good work."

  • "Get your work seen. Apply to every call-for-art, to street shows, to exhibitions - everything out there - until people become familiar with your work. Once demand grows, you can be more picky about where you show your work."

  • "Get out and meet people. Connections drive growth."

  • "Do the deep work of finding out why you do what you do and understanding a vision for your life and work."

9) What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

"I can't choose just one, but here are the top four: 1. Just start. 2. Make a lot of work. 3. Treat your work like a business. 4. Apply to every call-to-art you can."


To see more of Jess' artwork follow her on instagram: @jesstinsleyfineart


And visit her website: https://www.jesstinsleyfineart.com/

©2019 by Lauren Pigford | Lauren@LaurenPigford.com | Memphis, TN