Instant by Will is a project by Jessica Will, a recently relocated photographer whose goal is to remind us of all of the things that we miss from our youth...well, maybe that's taking things too far. Simply put, Will's conjures that oh-to-be-a-kid-again whimsy in us with instant photography à la Polaroid cameras and photos that you can hold in your hand the moment after they've been taken. We're real suckers for that sun-bleached aesthetic of expired film (sigh). Learn a little bit about Instant by Will's backstory, and how she found her place in the Cleveland creative community in our Maker Series interview below.
Cleveland Flea: How would you describe your business in one sentence?
Jessica Will: Instant By Will is a moving inquiry into the humanness of our surroundings - by way of instant photography.
CF: What was your path to beginning your business?
JW: After rediscovering my childhood Polaroid camera, I started off with an instant camera group walk through Central Park in NYC (where I lived at the time). I was instantly taken with the medium, finding the riskiness of taking each photo elating. This wasn't like digital photography, no deleting the file and trying again. So I ordered a bunch of film, and started out taking photos of all my favorite neighborhood spots. Soon I had a pretty big stack of polaroids and thought people might be interested in what I was doing. It had quickly become a way I could express myself. After getting some good feedback I decided to take it on - full steam ahead. And here I am!
CF: Why do you love what you do?
JW: One of my favorite parts of using an instant camera is the interaction it elicits. People are interested. They want to talk about it. They ask for a portrait of themselves. It reminds me how human we all are.
CF: Why does Cleveland need a business like this?
JW: Instant By Will aims to reintroduce viewers to the joy of taking a photo and immediately having it in your hands. To show that when the lines are fuzzy and the people aren't focused, you can read the raw emotions of a scene. That maybe we don't need to know everything to see it crystal clear.
CF: Why is Cleveland a great place to launch and run a creative business?
JW: The creative community here is strong and growing. Yet intimate enough to feel supported by fellow business owners. I've only been in Cleveland five months, and already I have a handful of folks I feel have my back.
CF: What's your biggest struggle from a business standpoint?
JW: Knowing what my work is worth - finding the middle ground between wanting everyone to have these pieces for free and needing to make a profit.
CF: What are your goals for the business this year?
JW: To become profitable! I'm still in the early stages.
CF: Did you see yourself growing up to be a creative vendor?
JW: Always. And Never. I had little faith I would ever pull it off, but it remained a little idea waiting for my attention.
CF: What's the first big moment where you knew you were headed in the right direction with your business?
JW: The moment I received the email from the Cleveland Flea that started with "Congratulations!". It was exhilarating!
CF: Have you learned anything about your business by participating in Cleveland Flea?
JW: I learned pretty quick there is no time to dilly dally. Once I applied and was accepted, things were on the move!
CF: What's one thing people would be surprised to learn about your business?
JW: My mom is my hired volunteer who does all the Instagram captions.
CF: What's your favorite piece of advice as it relates to your business?
JW: Ignore the fear.