Alumna named to ‘10 to watch’ list
Baltimore Sun Media Group’s “b” has named Jessica Watson ’05 one of 10 Baltimoreans under 30 to watch, but with the designer’s travel schedule that won’t be easy.
This is the year Watson, CEO and founder of the design/marketing firm JWatson Creative, is working remotely – four weeks at a time in a city that’s new to her. So far, she’s been to South Beach, Fla., and Atlanta, and now is back in Baltimore preparing to go to New Orleans in April. She rents an apartment and lives like a local, attending social and networking events, checking out co-working spaces, enjoying local shops and cafes, and participating in volunteer activities.
“The results have been a new burst of creative energy that I can immediately see in my work, amazing experiences with new friends I hope to stay connected with, and a sense of adventure like no other,” says Watson, who travels with her MacBook Pro, a set of small design inspiration books, a couple of paper sample books and Pantone color guides.
“That’s the bare essentials of what I need to design. Other than that, I have challenged myself to seek design and creative inspiration, and fresh ideas, from my immediate surroundings.”
Watson is moving westward, planning to make a stop in Southern California, head up the Pacific Coast highway to Portland and Seattle, travel the northern part of the U.S. and eventually land back in Baltimore. She makes a point of going to networking events, social activities and volunteer work because she never knows just where she’ll meet a potential client.
Most of her clients are in the Baltimore/D.C./Virginia area but she has always had clients outside of the area too. Watson doesn’t recruit clients in her destination cities before heading their way, but she does actively seek new and interesting things to do, and that always leads to something more.
“In South Beach I did a sunset kayak in Coral Gables, I sailed the Gulf Stream (with some pretty sizeable waves!) and I did a police-escorted bike ride up the main roads of the beach. It was amazing. I met such great people and many of us are still connected online,” says Watson, who graduated from McDaniel with a degree in Communication and minors in Business Administration and Graphic Design. “In Atlanta, I volunteered to pull up an invasive plant at a nature reserve, I attended a seminar with Atlanta Web Design Group, and I fell in love with the Georgia Aquarium and Botanical Garden.”
In addition to founding JWatson Creative, Watson serves as a manager for B’more Creatives, which supports women in creative professions, and she is active in the Tyanna Foundation for breast cancer research and awareness.
Never far from her heart is the artist, the Jessica Watson who turned her dorm room into a studio and gallery. On campus, Watson used art as a way to escape from the stresses of college life, as well as a way to connect with others – and earn a little income. In her sophomore year, she opened her dorm room Escape Art Gallery, the first of its kind at McDaniel, where students and faculty flocked to buy her brightly colored canvases right off the walls. In her junior and senior years, she organized an “interactive art show” where visitors could escape the mundane and learn to create their own unique masterpieces.
These days, she travels with a small set of acrylics – just in case.
“I grab small canvases on the go so when the mood strikes I can let my inner artist truly shine,” she says. “And I’m never without my camera or at least my iPhone because I have seen some beautiful scenes with my eyes that I love capturing on camera.”
Jessica Watson is truly someone to watch…if you can find her.