“We the Prosperous” – Meet Jen

Customer Stories, Intuit Brand JenCassmaller

Every Intuit customer has their own unique story. Along each of their journeys, they find passion, share advice, take risks, celebrate success, and form a community of their own.

From small business owners, to the self-employed and those simply seeking ways to be more financially savvy – we’re here to be a part of each story and champion our customers as they take steps forward on their path to prosperity. Hear how the power of many comes together to support the business of one with #WeTheProsperous.

Meet Jen Tracy. A self-employed painter, illustrator, and a user of QuickBooks and TurboTax. She’s defining prosperity on her own terms, while balancing her creative profession and time with her family.

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Intuit: Jen, what are some of your goals for the upcoming year?

Jen: Right now as a freelancer I wear a lot of hats. I work on everything from commissioned couples portraits to house portraits. I work with different blogs, podcasts, and magazines. I also do scenic painting and scenic sets for theatrical stages across New Jersey and Philly, which is my main source of income.

In general, this year I would like to do more illustrative work, like magazine covers and podcast projects. I’d also like to expand into more of a design role where I’d get to help build out the creative direction of theatrical sets, instead of only doing the painting.

Intuit: You do wear many hats! All of that and a family, too. Lots to juggle. When you’re thinking about your work and your goals, who are you inspired by?

Jen: So many people – I guess right now I’m really into Mary Blair, who did the concept work for Disney movies like Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, and Sleeping Beauty. She’s one of the keystone illustrators I look up to right now.

In terms of the horror genre, I follow Edward Gorey, the scary stories you tell in the dark. Lastly, Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone are sisters who illustrated and worked together. I think they’re extremely underrated and serve as a big influence for my work.

Intuit: What do you wish someone had told you before you started your self-employed journey?

Jen: I wish someone had told me to create what you want. Don’t try to shove yourself into a market you think the world needs. I needed to try less to fill holes and gaps, and create my own path instead.

I wish I had more confidence in my own vision and someone to tell me to go for it.

Intuit: Based on your experience, what advice to you have for other folks looking to turn their passion for the arts into a profession?

Jen: When it comes to the creative community, I’d say we’re on the same team. If someone contacts me and needs me to draw a car, I’ll say that’s not my speciality but i have a friend who can.

We hook each other up and we connect people. The moment you think of others as the competition you shut yourself off. Look at other artists as your teammates; look at your strengths and look at theirs. You build each other up and that’s how you start thriving.

Intuit: Love that sense of community building. What’s been the most surprising and challenging part of building your business?

Jen: I was surprised when I started doing passion projects and they resonated with my audience. I was surprised to find that people like what I like and that I don’t have to push to find a market to be a part of. I can be true to myself and when people see that truth they are drawn to it. I learned that if I’m passionate about something, there is going to be an audience that’s drawn to it, too.

The most challenging part: Balancing a personal life, family, husband, and son with owning a business. When you work for yourself, the line of when you’re at work and when you’re at home is not always clear. That balance is hard to find, but I think I found it!

Intuit: I’m sure that was a rewarding realization when you saw people responding to the work you were most passionate about. Who do you lean on for support? Who do you go to for questions about your business?

Jen: Like I said, I am in favor of creating a network of artists that support each other, but on the flip side what works for one artist might not work for another. You have to remember that you’re trailblazing and making your own path, so it can be difficult to ask advice and find someone else who is experiencing what you are experiencing.

A lot of conversations are “I did this, but it’s not what necessarily what needs to be done or the only way it could have gone.” It’s great to lean on each other, but you also have to be open to experimentation and trial and error.

Intuit: Great perspective that at the end of the day you have to be comfortable taking risks and trying things out. And Intuit is proud to be a part of your support system as well! What initially drew you to QuickBooks and TurboTax?

Jen: As a freelancer I have a lot to keep track of in terms of payments from different employers, theaters, and individuals. Back in 2010 or 2011 I realized I needed to focus and do things right because I was starting to make money and wanted to do the freelance work full time.

I appreciate the way the products guide me to what is a write off for my business versus a write off for myself. It had me looking at where I spend my money and helped me start itemizing my spending. As a self-employed person, you find that most of what you spend is actually for your business.

Intuit: Other than using Intuit products, what are some of your prosperity hacks that help you feel successful each day?

Jen: I have to go back to a community of artists. Surround yourself with people that build you up and build up other artists at the same time. You can’t create in a vacuum; you need other people and they need you

It’s a very competitive field, but it’s a very rewarding field. Remember to look at colleagues as teammates.

Also Coffee. Coffee will make you paint.

Lastly, just sit down and work even if you aren’t inspired. Inspiration is beautiful and sometimes it comes, but sometimes you have to paint anyway.

Intuit: Coffee is always the not-so-secret weapon! Thanks for sharing all of these stories, hacks, and pieces of advice. Last question: what does prosperity mean to you?

Jen: I am very lucky that I get to paint the beauty I see in the world. To me, prosperity means that I get to both provide for my family and create beautiful things.

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