How to Pursue the Artist Dream Jessica Gorlicky on what it takes to be a successful artist.

What does it take to be a successful artist? The art is important, but it isn’t what will make you successful. For live painter Jessica Gorlicky it was a strong confidence in her work, a dogged determination to succeed, and the ability to self-promote and connect with as many people in the community as possible.

Basic marketing tells us that you always have to consider your target audience, but that doesn’t mean you have to pander to it. Enter Jessica Gorlicky, a successful artist and live painter who simply creates what she wants to create. The passion in her work and love for performance has translated flawlessly into captivated audiences and happy clients.

Jessica’s performances are exciting because she attacks the canvas with confident strokes and a sense of purpose that includes an audience participation in her process. A quick observation of her work reveals pop-art aesthetics, shown through the depiction of female figures, bright colours, and media culture. Her latest collection, Saturday Morning, celebrated the cartoons we watched growing up, creating a bridge between pop-culture and fine art, and connects with an audience raised on media.

Although Jessica’s creations are contemporary, the foundation of her work has classical roots. It’s true that great work isn’t created in a vacuum. Her foray into art began with a traditional art background and a life-changing trip to Italy where she studied primarily art history and architecture. Now she has accomplished what many young creatives dream of: achieving what she calls her artist dream.

J: “I came home a changed person and I said for sure I have to fulfill my artist dream. I’ve taken history and pieced my education and visual experience together to create the kind of art that I would want on my own walls.”

The Art Must Go On

How much planning goes into a JessGo performance? Jessica uses spontaneity as an exciting element, admitting that every performance is different and she’s never completely sure what will happen. In the planning stage she sends clients some inspiration, but the rest is unveiled on performance day.

J: “Usually they trust my passion and know that people will love the performance and energy that I bring to the room. I can follow direction as well, I can suggest musical touches, or flow into any kind of music. If you can adapt to it, you can have fun with it.”

Although Jessica’s work looks effortless, that in itself is part of the performance. There is still no substitute for hard work. During the 2010 Winter Olympics, Jessica painted in -40 degree conditions where her hands were freezing, the paint was hardening, and the formaldehyde in the acrylics ceased to function. At the end of the show, she was carried offstage in blankets. At the other end of extremes, Jessica has also painted in sweltering, 40 degree weather on the beach. WIth sweat in her eyes, paint cans exploding, slipping in paint, she soldiers on with hundreds of people watching. During these difficult times she likes to channel Nicole Kidman’s character from Moulin Rouge.“The show must go on,” she says. “There’s money on the line. They don’t care what’s happening internally, it has to be done.”

Personal Philosophy

Being an independent artist takes a lot of courage and risk but that hasn’t stopped Jessica from exploring large, warehouse-style exhibitions.

J: “I couldn’t care less about the money or if it comes back, I need to experience it and get it out of my soul, there’s like a deep system injected in this body to make these things happen. I can’t control it but I can make it happen.”

What drives her motivation to create?
J: “I am in charge of two things in the world – my body and my art. Material items – everything else is temporary.”

Upcoming Projects

Where does Jessica plan to take JessGo? Stylistically, she reveals that she is going back to her roots and into more abstract pieces. She’s in the midst of planning a big show titled Window Shopping, a large showroom of windows that will make you feel like you’re walking down the street. It will be a collaboration with Seven Continents, a company that has done work for Victoria’s Secret, Nordstrom, and Neiman Marcus.

Jessica will also continue with her personal passion project that she started three years ago, Art in Motion. An exploration into transient art, she travels the world and does short live-painting performances on the street. Her audience consists of whoever happens to be nearby, watching for about ten minutes at which point she packs up and leaves.

On Self-Promotion

Creatives often have a hard time with self-promotion, we’d rather be creating than promoting and pushing our work in front of people. We make excuses, saying that we’re too busy to even document our work. Gorlicky sees the importance of promoting yourself.

J:The most important thing should be creating, however if you’re creating and no one is seeing it, then how are you suppose to move forward so you can buy more paints? You know, simple stuff.”

So what if you’re faced with failure?

J:Every single time you promote, never be sad that you didn’t sell something. It’s all about making relationships. People will connect with your work no matter what it looks like. Go hard. Go as hard as you can.”

To see more art and videos from JessGo, visit


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