I stumbled upon Project Girl Crush the day their feature of the insanely talented Kate Harmer (Founder of Hum Creative, based here in Seattle) went live. After spending a solid hour reading through their other interviews and being blown away by each and every one, I knew I had to reach out to the amazing duo behind the project. Turns out these two crush-worthy women had never thought of how inspiring they, themselves are. I'm so incredibly excited and humbled to bring you this feature—it's so cool being able to shed some light on these amazing women who spend their time featuring other inspiring and incredible women. Read on to learn a bit about Jen and Gen's process, find out more about the roots and inspiration behind Project Girl Crush and what this duo has in store for the future.
The Creative Unconscious: What's your name, age, and professional title? Where are you currently employed?
Jen Utley: Jen Utley, 29, Professional Slashie (which = Co-Owner of Common Thread Creative, founder and writer at Project Girl Crush, model, and creative strategist at POSSIBLE)
Genevieve Pierson: Genevieve, 28, Photographer/Videographer
TCU: What hobbies do you have outside of your professional field that keep you inspired and motivated to generate personal work? How do they inspire you?
JU: Well I hang out with my puppy, Miss Wayne Coyne, an awful lot. But before she and I met, I was in a weird spot and feeling really insecure about where I was heading professionally. So I became consumed with what other creative women were doing to pay the rent. I became so intimidated by these women, as though they were mythical figures that completely lacked flaw and fallibility. They seemed so inaccessible to me, and I allowed myself to become alienated from potentially inspiring figures. So I started Project Girl Crush to eradicate that intimidation and help folks in my position realize that even successful people get scared and fuck up.
GP: I love being in the woods. I love the ocean. It reminds me of all the beauty and magic in the world to be in the trees and nothing is more inspiring than that.
Also being on a motorcycle makes me feel like I’m in on a secret that no one else knows.
Music is also a huge inspiration… Youth Lagoon’s ‘A Year in Hibernation’ is an album I have edited to for years… I don’t think anything sounds more like the way I want to see things.
TCU: Do you have a hard time balancing being a creative professional and generating personal work that you're proud of?
JU: OHHELLYES. In the last 6 months, I started a digital media company (Common Thread Creative) with my aforementioned business partner, Gen, and decided to launch a print magazine of Project Girl Crush. I also model for Heffner Management, which means a lot of last minute castings. And, to keep me on top of my creative game, I do a lot of strategic consulting for an ad agency. While I set my own schedule for all of these endeavors, I don’t really have much time for much else. But luckily, each of these pursuits is super fulfilling creatively, so I can go to sleep at night feeling pretty damn good about myself.
GP: …but it’s always personal.
I feel like being a creative professional is the most personal profession you can do and I don’t think separating the two makes sense. Maybe one is for money and one isn’t but it should always be personal.
TCU: What time of day do you feel the most creative? What about the most productive?
JU: I love the mornings – the light is soft, coffee is warm, and my puppy is extra cuddly. I like to ease into the day by staying in my PJs and sitting down at my desk early. I’m my most productive and creative during that time. BUT the reality is that I can’t always stay at my desk all day, so sometimes I have to conjure inspiration in other ways – often, that’s through conversations with other inspiring creatives who spark new and exciting ideas.
GP: Most creative is in the evening… moon, music, wine. Most productive is the morning… light, music, coffee or ANY TIME OF DAY THERE IS A DEADLINE. Girl loves deadlines. I’m very productive if I don’t have time to second guess my first instinct. Otherwise I will try this.. or try that… and then this again… and usually arrive back to where I started.
TCU: What are your creative goals for the future?
JU: My goal is to be working on Project Girl Crush full time, because it’s just the most meaningful. Personally, socially, emotionally… Young girls are so inundated with unrealistic portrayals of women that masquerade as authentic – and I’m not just talking about the female as represented in media. I mean the way we interact with one another, face to face. People hide the shit that makes them human, because vulnerability is scary. But the more we run from it, the scarier it becomes. So I want young girls to read about the women they idolize, and instead of learning about their favorite designers and diet plans, they read about that one time this powerful woman fell flat on her face. And then about how she got back up.
GP: I’d like to tell stories that inspire honest emotion or connections. I believe that the idea of ‘self’ is nothing more than the stories you tell others and that others tell about you. So if I can make that intricate web kinder and more forgiving in any way for like… at least someone, I’d feel good about that. I don’t know what that looks like in the future… I’d love to make a movie someday.
TCU: Are you working on any personal projects right now? If so, can you share a little bit about your inspiration and your creative process?
JU: The Project Girl Crush magazine is slated to come out this fall – we’re releasing Issue 0.5, sort of like the EP to our full length album (Issue 1 will come out early next year). It’s our practice round, since we haven’t yet dabbled in this type of print. The process is… scattered. Between myself, Genevieve, our (oh so talented) intern Demi, and our (super amazing) designer Emmett, we have to eek out time to work together. But while it’s slow going, every time we push a little further it fuels my excitement and anticipation. When I see logos or mocks-ups, when I finish writing an article or Genevieve shows me images from a shoot, my little heart bursts. I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing, but I don’t care. I’m doing it. And that feels more incredible than any experience I have ever had.
GP: My partner Jen and I just finished a print publication for Project Girl Crush. It’s the thing that I feel most proud to work on and I have Jen to thank. She’s completely inspiring. I’ve always been an observer. I want to get in and get out and not be too noticed and not given too much responsibility. But that’s always made me feel a bit lost and without intention. So when Jen had the idea for Project Girl Crush and wanted me to help with the visual process to realize it, my whole heart lit up. And now it’s being printed on paper, which feels incredibly special to me… something tangible among all the screens we look at all the time.
TCU: What scares you?
JU: Living a predictable life.
GP: Well shit... love is my honest answer.
Love scares me… love for my family and friends and my work… love is the most precious thing and knowing that any one of those things could cease is terrifying because I know how strongly I’d feel it. I’m scared of feeing wrecked enough that putting one foot in front of the other would hardly be possible.
TCU: What does success mean to you?
JU: In a sense, I suppose it’s the opposite of what scares me - success is to live with a good amount of spontaneity. Working for someone else at 9-5 job will never work for me, I know, because I have tried it! The way success manifests in my life will likely change through the years, hence the need for spontaneity. It’s not about achieving one job, one milestone. It’s about refining who I am, what I want. It’s about growing, challenging myself, exposing myself, scaring myself. It’s about trying on some new shit. My version of success will be found in continual change, through every stage in my life.
GP: Money. [Jokkkkkes!]
TCU: Anything else you want to add?
JU: Cool project, dude. :)
GP: Be kind, y’all. This is all we got.
Head over to the Project Girl Crush website to learn more about Jen & Genevieve's incredible project and to inquire about grabbing a print edition of Crushed! www.projectgirlcrush.com