Derek Jensen

Jessie Hill

Derek Jensen
Jessie Hill

Ever since high school, Jessie has been doing custom paintings, paintings that reconnect us with nature.

Describe who you were as a kid.

The first word that came to mind was bashful. I have red hair and did not like the attention that came with it as a kid. I was also an independent, sensitive and creative kid. I’m the youngest of three and the only girl, so I developed an independent spirit pretty early on. I also loved doing arts and crafts, running around outside creating my own adventures and reading.

What's keeping you busy?

Currently: planning my wedding, custom painting orders, work and spending time with my best friend and fiancee Tyler.

Walk us through the days leading up to starting your own thing?

There isn’t a particular day in which I officially started my art business. The first custom painting I made was in high school. I continued to make custom paintings here and there for folks throughout my college years, and then I really started to take on more orders within the past couple of years. I felt very “official” when I got business cards this past Spring.

"Sit down with a cup of your favorite coffee and take the time to get a rough plan/outline of what you need to do on paper."

Talk to us about the biggest fear you’ve had recently.

I’m fearful of what our world is going to be like for my niece, nephews, my future children, grandchildren, etc. There just seems to be a growing lack of empathy and so much more hate. I don’t know if we’ll bounce back from all of this, or if we’re beyond the point of no return. It’s a concerning and scary time.

Talk to us about one problem you’ve been focused on solving and why.

Throughout this past summer, I have been focused on trying to reduce our food waste with meal planning and strategic grocery shopping. I’m not a natural when it comes to cooking, so I’ve got a long way to go, but progress is being made!

Someone is starting a project for the first time, what’s your advice?

My advice would be to sit down with a cup of your favorite coffee and take the time to get a rough plan/outline of what you need to do on paper. This project “kickoff” time helps you get the foundation going.

Why Des Moines?

Des Moines is such a great little big town. It’s little in that you feel like your ripple can actually be seen in the pond. You feel at home when you drive down the old familiar streets like Grand, Ingersoll, 63rd, etc. Yet Des Moines feels big in that the opportunities seem endless. There are parts of town and people I meet that make me think: it’s incredible that I haven’t known about this / him/her before. I really like that unique balance.

"Des Moines is such a great little big town. It’s little in that you feel like your ripple can actually be seen in the pond."

What’s one new thing in DSM that caught your eye?

The new street layout on East Grand in the East Village! The biking lane and parallel parking spots make it feel very progressive and a bit European.

If you could grant Des Moines one wish what would it be and why?

This is a selfish wish, but I wish that it remain the best-kept secret in the Midwest.

Someone just moved to DSM. What do they need to do first and why?

They need to go to Scenic Route, get a medium Honey Bee and fresh chocolate chip cookie and walk around the East Village. It’s such a beautiful part of the city, and it’s grown up so much in the past 5-10 years.

The most underrated thing in DSM is ________. Why?

Valley Junction! This is such a great part of town — the history, the shops, the community. I love to go to Inspired Grounds for coffee and then walk around to check out the shops. I especially like to head to Hinge on Saturday mornings when I need an escape after a crazy week.

What is your favorite item or product you bought locally in DSM? Why should someone else buy it?

I love to buy Tocca perfume at a local store named Eden. It’s such a great “treat yo-self” store — and also a great place to get gifts! You will walk out of there feeling so much better than you did when you walked in.

"I really hope that we can pull our noses out of our phones someday and come to appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds us."

What are you most proud of and why?

I’m most proud of having met former President Obama at Baby Boomer’s Cafe in East Village years ago. I was an intern for OFA-Iowa and covering the event for our blog. It was such a priceless moment — I didn’t realize I was going to meet him, and when I found myself standing in the greeting line I was beside myself. I was the first person in our family to meet a POTUS. I’m so proud of this because I made my parents proud, and I can’t wait to show that photo to my kids someday.

In three months what do you hope to accomplish?

In three months, I hope to have wrapped up my most successful year of custom paintings yet!

What’s one thing people need to know you really care about?

I really care about what Earth will be like for future generations. We live on such a beautiful planet, and yet we seem to be apathetic toward it. I really hope that we can pull our noses out of our phones someday and come to appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds us. That’s why I love to paint flowers, landscapes, natural elements - it’s a great way to celebrate nature and to also bring attention to nature’s amazing beauty.