Jess Hocking is a splendid example of someone who bravely let their passions and skillz guide the thoughtful construction of her ideal life. She manages to cleverly stitch together her love of travel and adventure, a frankly concerning taco addiction, and her work in media and graphic design to give her a life that is chock-full of the shit she loves most.
Now she’s gone one step further and is using her unique position to help the people of Mexico as they attempt to recover from the horrific earthquakes that recently reduced sections of their beautiful country to rubble, and you can help her help!
DSM caught up with J-Hock this week to hear all about her life on the road and her Mexican initiative; donating 50% of profits from her graphic design career to help the recovery process.
DSM: How did doing the shit you love lead a designer from Australia all the way over to the other side of the planet to wander Central America?
JH: I guess it kind of happened in reverse – I was backpacking around South East Asia a few years ago and I was unenthused about the thought of going back to a 9-5 job, go figure. I wanted to keep travelling! My background was media and communications, but my favourite hobby was spending hours deep in vectors and psd files. I’ve been obsessed with Mexican culture ever since I discovered Día de los Muertos as a kid, and even when I was living in Australia my diet was 80% tacos and guacamole.
“So one day it just clicked; I was going to become a graphic designer, live in Mexico and learn Spanish! I went back to Australia, studied graphic design part time while continuing to work in media strategy and that combo gave me all the tools I needed to branch off and work for myself from wherever I wanted.”
The other day I went to buy groceries to cook for myself (rather than eating tacos twice a day), but whilst at the market I realised the only food I know how to make is… tacos. It just makes sense for me to be here.
DSM: As regular stalkers of your social media here at DSM, your travels look seriously amazing! Was it difficult to take that first step away from home and get out into the big wide world?
“For the month leading up to my departure, every time I’d thought about the fact that I was going to be backpacking for 12+ months I burst into tears, it was ridiculous”.
I avoided telling my housemates for weeks because I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving. I loved life in Sydney and I’m extremely close to my family. I still miss Australia often, travelling is still a challenge sometimes. Every few days or weeks you have to say goodbye to another great friend or potential soulmate. Sometimes the wifi signal is so weak that it takes 45 minutes to upload a pdf to an email.
“It’s still tough. But not a day goes by that I don’t appreciate the position I’m in and love what I do. I’m so grateful, and I feel very spoilt to be living this lifestyle.”
DSM: When you travel it seems you don’t just look at a place through a tourbus window. It seems like you have a deep connection with and care for the people of Mexico.
JH: I was really worried that I’d placed such high expectations on Mexico for so many years that I’d be disappointed when I arrived. Fortunately, I was proved wrong. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have met the most amazing local people in every place that I’ve visited.
“Mexicans in general are really fun. They’re super cheeky, energetic, have a brilliant sense of humour and they are the most generous society I’ve ever come across.”
All of the Mexican friends I’ve connected with are so talented, kindhearted and yeah, just super, super generous. It blows my mind every day thinking of the kindness I’ve been shown all across the country and the mates I’ve made for life.
DSM: Your usually colourful, fun-filled adventures led you to be in Mexico at the truly devastating time. Explain what the people of Mexico are going through as we speak.
JH: Right now, Mexico is rebuilding entire towns that have been completely wiped out from the recent massive earthquakes that struck the central and southern states.
“Hundreds of people were killed and thousands have been left injured and homeless. It’s utterly heartbreaking, and you can feel the impact across the country.”
I was about an eight hour drive away from the epicentre of the second 7.1 magnitude quake that hit exactly 32 years to the day after Mexico’s deadliest earthquake killed thousands of people in Mexico City. It’s just devastating that history is repeating itself, and while these areas have significantly improved infrastructure since 1985, the damage this time around is still considerably devastating.
DSM: Tell us what you’re doing to help, and how we can join you for the next few days?
JH: I recently dropped off some medical supplies at a donation centre in Guadalajara to be delivered to areas of need. I walked away utterly devastated. I couldn’t help but think it just wasn’t enough. There are still thousands of people left on the streets with absolutely nothing to their name, and it’s going to take months to rebuild shelter for these people. The threat of aftershocks is severe, so this may not even be the end of the devastation. There continue to be calls for urgent help and supplies in towns and communities inside and outside the capital as official rescue and relief efforts struggle to cope with the widespread destruction that continues to grow.
“I’m currently making my way to Mexico City to provide assistance, but in the meantime I’ll be donating 50% of my income from all new projects that I receive from now until the end of September to two charities.”
– Topos México, a nonprofit rescue brigade made up of volunteers that was created after the 1985 earthquake
– Direct Relief, a humanitarian aid organisation working with medical companies and government agencies in Mexico to bring medical supplies to areas of need.