Today we’d like to introduce you to Tessa Woody.
Hi Tessa, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
I could start this off very stereotypically: “I started drawing when I first learned how to hold a crayon”, or I could start honestly: “I didn’t know I wanted to be an artist until someone told me I was good at it”, but I think I will just start somewhere in between. I started doing art at a young age because I enjoyed doing it.
There is something meditative about the process of making it, and rewarding about sharing it with others. I loved art as much as I loved books as a kid. In fact, as a child, I spent most of my drawing time creating my own picture books by folding printing paper and stapling it in the middle. Story and meaning have always been aspects that are interwoven into my art. It’s never changed.
I just received my BA in Graphic Design, but I also have a minor in Creative Writing. I love characters. Characters are what kept me turning the page. So, I made my own, and I wanted to draw them. That never really went away either. Even though it was tiring and tough, I followed drawing all the way through college, falling in love with the human figure, but most importantly, the story behind the body that my pencil created.
The cheesy stories always tell you to follow your heart, but I don’t think I ever really had to be told to do that. It’s in my nature. The same kid who was folding up printer paper books is the same woman who got a degree in art and studied the art of storytelling. The same kid who was running to her mom to show her the character she drew is the same woman who has had her art and writing published in various magazines.
So where does the story go next? Well, I work at the third oldest indie bookstore in the nation: Blue Marble Books. I do all of their design work and run their online presence. The same store that I would walk to regularly, and is the origin of most of my books. It’s a dream job, but it’s not a career.
Right now I am job-searching for a design position. But I am not really a corporate girl. While job searching, I am selling my art online and at art fairs. I just launched my own magazine called Eye On The Otherside: for the expressive mystic. The rest of the story. I don’t know, but I am always open to a plot twist.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
No. I would be surprised if anyone said it was. Perusing art is a bump in the road itself. Following your heart is hard. Most will tell you that you will end up serving fries (which honestly isn’t a bad job). What do you do when their wrong is your right? I’ve always gone down my path, though it may not be anyone else’s. I don’t mind walking alone.
Money has always been a struggle of mine. I’ve had a job since I was 16. But I am a hard worker and I have a supportive family. But my biggest bump in the road has always been myself. While my face to the world is confident and hard-working, my shadow self is the opposite.
She always tells me that I am not good enough, to give up because I won’t be as good as my classmates. She tells me every day that I will always be stuck. I have learned that my shadow will never go away, but I can at least fight to always have the sun is always in my face and my shadow behind me.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I think there will always be a piece of my heart in Blue Marble Books. I remember so many summer days and Saturdays walking down the street and around the corner to the little house made into a bookstore. I even remember being kicked out once because I was too young to be alone in the store (thanks Dave).
So when I was losing my mind working at Bob Evans when I was 17, I called Blue Marble. Practically every day I would call, “I can organize your shelves”, “I can clean your store”, or “I know a lot about books,”. They finally brought me on, and I worked in the basement working on shipments with my spider friends (as long as they stayed in their corners).
I worked my way up, offering my skills in design, social media, and bookselling. I brought our 400 followers on Instagram to 1,000 in a year. We have not been so connected with our community since Tina Moore opened the store in 1979. And we still keep growing. As I got more chances to work, I fell more in love. Even though it’s not a career, it is a love of mine. Nothing makes my heart happier than a child with a book in hand, excited to see the magic between the pages.
What does success mean to you?
By doing what you feel is right.