photo : Chrix Lanier
interview : Jennifer Link
Jessica Jewell is a frequent contributor to Auxiliary Magazine whose writing and photography spans the editorial spectrum, from lifestyle and media to music and unique features. A multi-facteted journalist, Jessica’s past experience includes: photography, magazines, multimedia, newspapers, and online news outlets; paralleled with a professional career in marketing. When she’s not on the hunt for her next story, you can find Jessica Jewell on the road for her next adventure. She loves the desert, trail running, street photography, fresh produce, and general mayhem.
What do you do at Auxiliary Magazine?
My territory spans the editorial landscape. I write and take photos for everything from: music, lifestyle, fashion, media, and event pieces. My fortes are music and personality profiles if I had to choose, though.
How did you join the magazine?
I was referred to Auxiliary by Saryn Christina, a contributing photographer, who I had actually modeled for in the past on other outside projects after the word got out through a mutual friend and collaborator about my pursuit of my true passion: alternative media and journalism.
What skills and experience from your background do you use as a contributor for Auxiliary?
I hold a degree in Journalism and contributed to a couple other publications prior to joining the Auxiliary team. I always loved photography. I had covered events and had done a few photo essays prior to joining; despite my past as a model, my aesthetic is more photojournalistic, raw, gritty portraits and street photography are my favorite. I have a talent for meeting unique people and exploring unusual places. I approach stories in a documentarian-style. I try to come from the standpoint of letting people think out loud and sitting back for both the interviewee and reader to find the content to be candid and organic, whether the story is told by writing or photography.
What is it about writing that is most appealing to you? How did you get started?
Writing has been the only constant in my life. I can express myself vulnerably and be honest. When I get into my writers’ mindset, I’m the only person on the planet and lose myself in a nebulous, timeless space. It’s a comfort and an affliction I wouldn’t give up for anything. In terms of journalism, I love the opportunity to meet new people doing incredible things and share it with the world. I’m eclectic and so are my subjects. I’ve been scribbling since I can remember. It’s always been my go-to medium ever since I was a kid. I started out as a poet, frequenting open mics and actually used to be a songwriter for a friend’s metal band. My innate curiosity and knack for meeting people led me to journalism after sometime. I do still write my psychobabble when I get a chance.
Do you think that the written word is just as important as an image?
Hard to say, I think it’s really dependant on the subject. In terms of journalism, an image sometimes speaks on levels that transcend words. They also can leave interpretation up to the viewer. Conversely, words can illustrate whole worlds to readers and provide such intimate details.
What artists out there (dead or alive) inspire you the most and why?
Diane Arbus, Charles Bukowski, and Sonic Youth. Their work has been a huge inspiration to my craft. I love visceral work that evokes instinctual reactions. No smoke and mirrors,just in your face, stomach-churning reality. I identify deeply with Arbus. Like she was, I’m immensely fascinated with people living on the fringes of society. I admire peoples’ unique tenacity and will to survive. Also like Arbus, I feel awkward and displaced from the status quo. It’s always been difficult to find a group I resonate with, and have been a drifter all my life. She photographed the people who didn’t have a voice and didn’t try to attach herself to the images. She sought to capture peoples’ raw essence. The photography wasn’t about the process or even the aesthetic, but about giving a platform to people snubbed by society, the freaks. “I work from awkwardness. By that I mean I don’t like to arrange things. If I stand in front of something, instead of arranging it, I arrange myself.” - Diane Arbus. “Most people go through life dreading they’ll have a traumatic experience. Freaks were born with their trauma. They’ve already passed their test in life. They’re aristocrats.” – Diane Arbus.
Where do you roam and frequent in Los Angeles?
As a self-proclaimed foodie, you can find me at different restaurants looking for my latest fix. My most recent addiction has been trekking out 45 minutes to Rosemead to sink my teeth into the tender skin of some unsuspecting dim sum.
What piece is a fashion staple in your closet?
Definitely my prized boots. I have a shoe problem, more specifically a boot problem. My favorite pair is a dark grey, knee high pair of military-inspired heeled boots with two rows of vintage buttons up each side the front. It’s not uncommon to see me wearing a torn-up t-shirt. I like feeling comfortable and slightly rough around the edges. I also love jackets. Lots and lots of jackets.
Do you think the fashion drives the music or the music drives the fashion?
Easy. The music. Fashion and lifestyle hinge on influences like music. The mood and aesthetic is set by the sound. Fahsionistas better thank their lucky stars for music. What do they draw so much of their inspiration from? The music, of course.
You have the power of time travel, what one live performance past or future would you attend?
So hard to choose! How about a top five (in no particular order): The Velvet Underground, Spacemen 3, Bark Psychosis, Sonic Youth, Jimi Hendrix.
What celebrity, musician, or notable person that you have met were you most star struck by?
I don’t really get start struck, honestly. It was interesting meeting Michael Hussar, Billy Corgan, and Peter Murphy though.