Jessica Heberle is a multi-talented multidisciplinary artist living with her fiance, also an artist, in Wilkinsburg. We first met Jessica through social media dog love- her towards our babies, Porter and Jeanie, and us toward her beautiful husky, Kota. One of the reasons we were so excited to visit her home studio to interview was to get to meet Kota in real life and he did not disappoint. As we've mentioned before, studio pups are the best. Of course, we were thrilled to get to know Jessica and her artistic practice better too. Enjoy!
Where are you from?
Originally, I’m from Erie, PA.
What neighborhood do you live in now?
What type of artist are you?
I'm an illustrator and painter.
Why do you choose to make art in Pittsburgh?
Well, first of all, cost of living. I would say the reasonable cost of living is a huge thing, because John (my fiancé) and I are both artists.
So being able to buy a house affordably has been a huge part of why I stayed here. I tried to live on the west coast and it was too laid back for me. I tried New York City, and it felt too fast-paced and claustrophobic. I spent quite a few years traveling around, just packing a bag and going. Trying to figure out where I fit in. I ended up coming here after living in North Carolina working on a healing sanctuary. I fell in love with Pittsburgh the energy and the sense that I couldn’t quite nail down why I felt so at home here.
What is your favorite part of being an artist in Pittsburgh?
There's so many talented artists here and opportunities! I used to do an Artists Meetup and found other local artists to be supportive and generous with their knowledge and time. Also, the local comic scene and talent is quite incredible! Here it feels like if you have a dream to be an artist, you can fulfill that which is really exciting. There are some amazing organizations that help support local artists like Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Contemporary Craft, The Toonseum, and Percolate Gallery to name a few.
What would you love to see more of in the Pittsburgh art scene?
More opportunities for selling work. I’ve been racking my brain for ideas to help with supporting other artists sell work!
Also, more studio critiques would be really nice.
What is your favorite music to jam to in the studio?
I mostly watch Netflix, movies and shows. I watch a lot of The Office and New Girl. And then I'll watch things like Manhunt and Mindhunter, which I've really been into lately. If I do music, it's really depressing stuff, and it's when I want to go to a dark place most of the time. So Elliott Smith, Florence + The Machine, Tori Amos. I also listen to a lot of Hay House Radio podcasts.
What other things do you do when you are not making art?
I go to see movies or go out to eat with John. Take Kota our 3yr old Siberian husky for walks. Literally, I could not live without taking Kota for walks. It's one of the best things ever, 'cause he always inspires me to be more present. Walking around the neighborhood or spending time in local parks and nature has been a huge inspiration for my work. I’m trying to be more social and getting back into being more involved in the arts community. I do tend to spend most of my time with John, close friends and our fur family!
What would you tell artists who are just starting out?
Number one, don't listen to one persons idea of what you should be creating or doing. Whats important is your voice and sharing work that challenges you and helps you grow, but also that you are proud of.
Make a sustainable longterm plan of being an artist! I work a part time job a few days a week to make sure I have an income coming in and can work in the studio as well.
Therapy has been very helpful working through anxiety, negative thinking and depression. If I didn't maintain that aspect of my life I think it would be very hard to make work, actually.
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