What Matters to Jessica Katona

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Debbie Millman has an ongoing project at PRINT titled “What Matters.” This is an effort to understand the interior life of artists, designers, and creative thinkers. This facet of the project is a request of each invited respondent to answer ten identical questions and submit a nonprofessional photograph.

Jessica Katona is a Seattle-based Creative Director working at Landscape. She leads teams designing identities, websites, environments, products, printed matter, and visual content for ambitious clients in service of social good.

What is the thing you like doing most in the world?

I find great satisfaction in creating something with my own two hands. It could be a landscaping project in my backyard or experimenting with a new artistic medium. There is joy in getting lost in the physical act of making, and the tangible result at the end of it. I also love being outside, preferably on a sunny day, within proximity of some body of water. And yet I find myself sitting in front of a computer most days! Hmmm…

What is the first memory you have of being creative?

Most of my early memories are of me being creative. Name a craft and I was doing it— painting, sewing, collaging, sculpting, papermaking… the list goes on! My mom ended up having to dedicate a whole room in our house to the endless craft supplies I collected.

What is your biggest regret?

I’m a bit of an introvert and a bit of a perfectionist. When I was younger, there were many times when that translated to me not trying certain things out of fear of failure, especially in front of other people— whether it was playing a sport or speaking a foreign language. I regret not diving in and trying those new things sooner. And that’s a learning that I still have to remind myself of today sometimes.

How have you gotten over heartbreak?

Talking to others. Having a good, long cry. Being in nature.

What makes you cry?

Sometimes I bottle up my emotions, put on a brave face, keep trudging forward— and then it all comes to head in a moment of frustration, and all I can do is cry. It’s a release valve.

How long does the pride and joy of accomplishing something last for you?

By the time I’m completing one thing, I’m often already deep into the next thing. So usually the joy is fleeting! I should work on that.

Do you believe in an afterlife, and if so, what does that look like to you?

Truthfully, I don’t know what happens after we die. And at this moment, I’m okay with not knowing. But I do like the idea that after death, energy is transformed into something new.

What do you hate most about yourself?

I’ll reframe this as the thing I’d like to improve about myself— and that’s spending less time overthinking and worrying, and more time enjoying and doing.

What do you love most about yourself?

I like to think I’m a very compassionate person. I try to treat all living things with kindness and openness.

What is your absolute favorite meal?

It’s too hard to pick just one meal! I love to eat, and I love variety, but something I could eat everyday is soup. Soup is so comforting. Any kind of salty, spicy, tangy, brothy thing makes me happy— ideally paired with something crunchy for dunking.