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Meet Jessika Savage, designer in Avondale

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jessika Savage.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Jessika. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
My journey has been one full of twists and turns – and somehow everything has ended up exactly where it needed to be. I have always been a creative person – there’s not a year of my life since childhood that you wouldn’t catch me drawing, building, imagining and creating for myself. As I got older I stayed focused on creating and worked to find ways that I could create for others, as a means of making a living. My first job out of high school was as a photojournalist and public affairs specialist in the Army National Guard – not the typical route for the girl who would ride to school on a Vespa wearing fairy wings – but I’d never shied away from hard work – and have always had a habit of putting myself in male-dominated spaces just to prove to myself that I can do it.

Shortly after finishing Army basic training and photojournalism school I was deployed to Mosul, Iraq. This was during the height of the war – and it taught me so much about myself as a person and as a creative. During that year I could be found creating murals, taking photos published by AP & Reuters and designing the weekly newspaper for the military bases in northern Iraq. The minute I got home I was ready to go to design school and push harder than I had before to be a professional creative – and had decided that graphic design & art direction were the best arenas for me to build towards.

After eight years in the Army National Guard I decided that I was ready to branch out and break away – I ended my time in the military, packed my bags and moved to Chicago to finish school and begin my career.

Since then I’ve worked for worldwide e-commerce websites, large ad agencies and now finally – I work for myself. My sense of adventure has left me itching for more freedom to travel and experience as much life as I can – because of that I have branched off on my own as a location-independent freelance designer & art director. I’ve worked on clients of all sizes – from L’Oréal to small, luxury candle companies and everything in between. I am still working hard to find a balance between work and life – and often times they seem to fuse together as one. I’m looking forward to taking my work on the road as my husband and I embark on a long-term travel plan that has us trekking across the globe. I am so excited to see what kinds of clients and adventures await!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Very little about my road has been smooth – the first bumps coming when I joined the military the month prior to September 11th – to getting deployed to a combat zone and the struggles that come with coming home and integrating into “civilian life”. While I was deployed it was extremely hard for the leadership around me to understand my need to be creative – I remember one instance when someone had sent me a huge box of chalk-pastels while I was in Iraq (the sender understood my need to be creative) and during a rare day-off I decided to decorate the concrete barriers outside of my friend’s living quarters with life size portraits of them as fashion illustrations (as ladies we were pretty starved of anything that felt feminine – so it was my gift to them to portray them as their feminine selves). I was so proud of how I spent that day off – and it really boosted the morale of my friends when they arrived from their shifts to see these drawings – but the leadership felt differently. I was made to wash them off pretty much immediately and got chewed out pretty bad.

In my life there have always been people who just haven’t understood my drive to create things, who don’t understand that for me – to create is to live. I’ve learned to be discerning – the people and industries that tried to turn down my shine are the ones who don’t get to bask in that light. Being selective – and curating safe creative spaces has been a lifesaver for me.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Jessika Savage story. Tell us more about the business.
I am a location-independent art director & graphic designer – meaning I don’t like the idea of being tied down to one place to do my creative work – I love variety in all things. Variety in the types of projects I do – from branding, to advertising, to illustrations – getting to work in all of these areas only brings more creative strength to my other creative projects – it’s like a full-body workout for the brain! I also like the flexibility to work from different places physically – I love coming in and working with a team in an office one week, then working from home or from the beach the next week – all of it energizes me creatively and keeps things from feeling stale.

One of the things I’m most proud of in my work, is the balance I’ve struck between taking on projects that might be higher paying (usually for large ad agencies or corporations) and balancing that with passion projects that feed my soul. I love to do work for women (identified) small business owners & nonprofits – and it’s brought me a lot of satisfaction being able to balance the jobs that pay the bills with the jobs that feed my spirit.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Hmmm luck… luck is such a strange concept for me. I’m not sure I believe in it. I’m always struck when someone says “oh you’re SO lucky” – it happens a lot when talking about world travel and my location independent business. It’s not luck that has created this lifestyle or career – its hard work, hustle and grit. I love the John Milton quote “Luck is the residue of design.” – It’s amazing what we can create for ourselves when we show up for ourselves.

Life has thrown me plenty of curve balls, being 20 and in a combat zone, having home-renovation projects fall apart, landing your “dream job” only to discover it’s depleting your soul — to me it’s what you do with those curve balls that really form who we are.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Julie Dietz

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