We had the good fortune of connecting with Jules Stewart and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jules, what role has risk played in your life or career?
If 2020 has shown me anything it’s that life is a lot less predictable than I thought it was. Spending much time at all thinking of what might go wrong seems like a waste now that I’ve been thoroughly proven wrong for an entire year’s worth of projections. Even prior to COVID times, I have really seen the value in digging into my feelings around important decisions. I try my best to parse fear (or feeling like a decision is too risky) from legitimate reservations. And if my entire hesitation around moving a certain direction in my business life is that something is risky or scary, that tells me I absolutely need to move that direction. I suppose humans have fear and risk-avoidant tendencies for a reason. Oh, you know, like to keep us alive or whatever. But I repeatedly remind myself that for the vast majority of my business decisions, the “worst-case scenario” is almost never ACTUALLY death, no matter how I feel at the moment. I made the unconventional (and, dare I say, risky) decision to quit my steady job to pursue a career in music and graphic design this year. During a global pandemic. Whilst there are no live music gigs. But it is working out better than I could have dreamed it would. That decision has been incredibly freeing and has allowed me space and motivation to deepen my understanding of creativity and engage with music and design in new ways. As a summary, I’m a big fan of risky decisions because they have consistently shown me where I can find my biggest opportunity to grow.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My journey to becoming a career musician and part-time graphic designer hasn’t been very straightforward. I can think of a few quick detours, like spending (a LOT of) money I didn’t have to get a doctorate and working as a physical therapist for five years. I just never thought being a full-time musician was a viable career choice until I stepped back and realized I was already doing it. There is absolutely no concrete path or set series of steps to becoming a working musician. That’s frustrating at times for someone who is obsessed with constantly making progress. It’s been crucial for me to know exactly what progress and success look like to me and to understand what I do and don’t have control over in my life. And what I’ve settled on is that all I can ever do is make the next right move as soon as I know it’s the right move. My right moves always involve playing music I really believe in with people I really care about. In both my work as a drummer and with my graphic design clients, my goal is always the same: serve the art, not my ego. I always come to a song or project with ideas, but I know in the end what I most want to do is help a vision come to life. Whether an artist has a dream of helping listeners find words they didn’t know they needed to speak or a client wants to start a business that gives them control over her own life, I want to do the best I can to be part of bringing those dreams to life.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I have grown to love San Diego so much over the past 10 years of living here. I would start by taking my visitor for a walk in Balboa Park then for a beer in North Park at one (or many) of the incredible breweries and taprooms, Modern Times being my favorite. For dinner, Kindred is a must. Walking from South Park down into downtown and to Waterfront Park is an afternoon with plenty to see. Breakfast is a no-brainer; the ambiance and experience of Big Kitchen are unparalleled. In terms of live music (when it’s back up and running), Winston’s in OB, The Holding Company, and Soda Bar are some of my favorites. The trip would have to include pizza from Tribute and/or URBN. Coffee at Krakatoa and a veggie burrito from Humberto’s across the street would be a great pre-bike ride meal before biking down to the ferry, riding over to Coronado, and circling back up on the Strand and through Chula Vista. A week-long visit wouldn’t be nearly enough time to see all SD has to offer!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My biggest supporter has always been my wife Kali but over the last year and a half, her support turned to direct motivation. Kali opened her own personal training studio, Scend Fitness, in June 2019. Watching her tenacity and dedication in pursuit of her dreams lit a fire under my rear end to take the plunge into full-time creative work. She has navigated this pandemic with creativity and positivity and continues to be my greatest encourager.
Other: Graphic Design Portfolio: https://julesstewart.carbonmade.com/
Madi Thiel, Darci Fontenot, Andrew Murguia