Alissa Hessler: The States Project: Maine
Alissa Hessler and I met at Maine Media one summer day under the tent. She was and still is this super talented, cool, hip woman who has a head for business and a heart the size of the Grand Canyon. Alissa, always cheerful and helpful is one of those friends who just says, “hey come on over, we’re going to do arts and crafts!” So I made her the best narwhal I could for her themed birthday party – Under the Sea was the theme!
Alissa and her partner Jake have a magical romance story of meeting at a party and falling madly in love. So much in love that she left Seattle and moved to Maine, yes it is real! They settled into a lovely farmhouse where she co-operates Hessler Creative and co-teaches photography courses throughout the states.
I had the fortune of sitting in on a class that Alissa was co-teaching which opened my eyes to a whole new side of her. She is passionate about photography, about all imagery and teaching. Alissa pushes her students to have that ‘Ah Ha’ moment. You know, that moment we all have when it finally all makes sense, when the project comes together. I watched as she assisted in identifying specific concepts within others work and then worked diligently to nurture that.
When Alissa told me she was working on a new project I was thrilled. After watching her teach, getting to know her as a person and sharing my own personal work with her I was excited to have the opportunity to see her work. Her project Urban Exodus is an exploration into how many individuals, families and couples are switching gears; moving from the mechanical, routine lives found in most cities to a life of new possibilities and adventures.
I am fortunate to call Alissa my friend and even more privileged to share her work with you.
Alissa Hessler is an art director, photographer and instructor, with over a decade of creative industry experience. She has lead diverse creative teams in the photography, design and film worlds, working as a photo editor, photographer, art director and executive producer. Her clients include industry giants Nordstrom, Microsoft, Boeing, Edelman, Colliers International and Starbucks.
Hessler was a project manager and photography art director at the award-winning design firm Turnstyle Studio in Seattle. At Turnstyle she was responsible for sourcing commercial photographers for projects and developed a keen eye for selecting the best talent for specific jobs. Following Turnstyle, she joined the Global PR team for smartphone giant, HTC. At HTC, she was the creative director and project manager for all product launches, bringing over twenty devices to market at couture press events around the world.
For the last five years, Alissa has been co-teaching photography classes across the country with her husband Jacob Hessler and consulting working photographers wanting to develop a wider-audience for their work. In addition, Alissa co-operates Hessler Creative, a branding and photography agency and shoots for various publications, including Modern Farmer, Bon Appétit, The Guardian and Good Housekeeping. For the last three years she has been shooting and interviewing ex-urbanites across North America for her project, Urban Exodus. Her first book “Ditch the City and Go Country” is releasing in July of 2017, distributed by Macmillan Press.
The rural to urban migration has been steady since the Industrial Revolution. Young people leaving family farms and businesses behind to find success in the city. The Back-to-the-Lander movement of the late 60s and early 70s reversed the trend momentarily, inspiring urbanites to leave city life and build a more self-sufficient and sustainable life in the country.
In a time where graduates are chained to school loan debt, decent paying jobs in urban centers are hard to come by and rents are skyrocketing, more and more people are choosing to leave the rat race and build a life rurally. Urban Exodus gives an intimate glimpse into the spaces and lives of former urbanites who chose to leave the concrete jungle for greener pastures.
In addition to the imagery of farms, working studios and cabins nestled in the woods, are interviews detailing their journey. These interviews highlight the triumphs, struggles and the inspirations they have found since choosing to live a life away from the urban existences they once knew.
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