Jessica Reader, a Sydney-based artist, is well regarded for her passion of creating textured art. Each piece is made using a unique blend of materials from both the construction and art industry to create highly textural pieces. Since starting her journey of creating art in October 2021, she has shared and sold her pieces as a side hustle on her Instagram page, Textures by Jess. Her page has now grown to over 200K followers, allowing her to create art full-time.
ConsiderBeyond: Could you describe your creative process, and how do you go from an idea to a finished piece of art?
Jessica Reader: I wish I could say I had one answer for that, but some pieces are very intuitive, while some pieces are very planned, and some projects are made collaboratively with clients.
I think my best work is when I create my textures intuitively and just go with the flow and see what comes naturally. Sometimes, when I’m busy doing something else throughout the day and inspiration strikes, I like to sketch out the idea quickly in my sketch book as something I can come back to. Then, I will later sketch out the design in pencil on the canvas. It's not until I start working with the textures that I really know whether it’s a design that will work or not.
In regards to color, I’m inspired by neutral colors and also fabric tones that I see trending in homeware stores. My clients often prefer art pieces that complement their home interiors, so I like to stay on top of trending color palettes.
ConsiderBeyond: What are some challenges unique to creating textured art that might not be apparent in other art forms?
Jessica Reader: I think the biggest challenge that artists face when they first start creating textured art is the cracks that can appear during the curing (drying) process. Often, artists think that it’s due solely to the texture paste, but in reality, there are several factors that can cause cracks while the texture medium is drying. Some of these include applying your texture medium layers too thickly, playing with the texture medium too long while creating your piece, speeding up the drying process (e.g., through air conditioning, fans, sunlight, or wind), as well as the technique and processes you use to create your piece.
ConsiderBeyond: How do you communicate your art process and final artwork with your fans around the world, and how important is this?
Jessica Reader: Instagram has played a huge role in my marketing and communications strategy. It has been the biggest factor in my success with art sales so far, ultimately allowing me to leave my career in hospitality marketing, and create art full-time.
As a social platform originally designed for people to share images, it makes sense for artists to use it as a tool to share their works. Over the past couple of years, Instagram has been actively pushing Reels to compete with TikTok and YouTube Shorts. I’ve taken this opportunity to create a lot of behind-the-scenes process reels and short clips of my final art pieces. My objective with reels is to inspire people, give them something beautiful to look at, share my art in a more engaging way, and ultimately, grow my audience. I see the most growth and engagement on my page through reels and can see that Instagram pages that do not utilize reels as part of their content mix do not grow at the same rate as others in their industry.
ConsiderBeyond: You describe yourself as a “texture addict.” What is it about the texture that captivates or inspires you?
Jessica Reader: I’ve always loved adding textural elements to my home. Adding texture makes a space come alive by giving it depth. I believe textured art gives viewers a tactile experience with an added point of interest. I describe myself as a “texture addict” because I’ve become so passionate about creating textured art – from the first moment that my palette knife touched my first canvas. I started creating artworks during the Coronavirus pandemic, and for me, it was a way to avoid boredom during the Sydney lockdown period. However, I also found the whole process to be incredibly therapeutic and stress relieving. It was a creative outlet that allowed me to express myself and gave me a clearer sense of purpose.
ConsiderBeyond: Who are some of the artists or creative figures that inspire you?
Jessica Reader: I follow a lot of texture artists, but the ones that inspire me the most are the ones that create truly unique designs. Some artists include Lepi Studios, Tracey Ann Art and Shawni from Muddy by Natur, but there are so many that the list is endless! I’m also inspired a lot by talented interior designers such as Three Birds Renovations and Oak and Orange. Their overall fresh and minimal design aesthetic on their social media pages always keep me coming back for more.
ConsiderBeyond: After transitioning from a career in hospitality marketing, what skills have you found to be transferable and beneficial for your artwork and business?
Jessica Reader: A big part of my role in my previous marketing positions has been social media marketing and database marketing. Both are skills I believe to be important for any artist or creator starting their own business.
Social media is a powerful tool to get your work noticed with the benefit of reaching limitless people all over the globe from the comfort of your own home. It also allows you to connect and create a community with other artists and gives you the opportunity to sell directly to your clients without the expense of market stall fees, gallery fees, or online store commission fees.
Database marketing is a tool that I feel is important to nurture my existing clients. People who have bought a piece from my website or who have signed up to my emails via my website are notified about my upcoming art releases and special offers.
ConsiderBeyond: What are some of the biggest challenges you faced when making a career shift?
Jessica Reader: The biggest shift is going from having a marketing career to trying to work out the logistics of actually running my own business. There are so many factors to being an artist that are unrelated to the process of creating art, so learning how to operate my own business as a whole was definitely the biggest, yet also one of the most exciting, challenges.
Some of the factors that I found challenging include finding the right suppliers, determining the best pricing strategy, choosing payment processing systems from domestic and international clients, and how to safely and efficiently pack and ship my art, among others.
ConsiderBeyond: Do you have any advice for people who might be in a similar position you were in before; thinking of transitioning their career to be an artist because of their love and passion for art?
Jessica Reader: Pick a niche, define your target audience, and most importantly, have confidence in yourself to start showing your art to people. There is minimal risk if you start selling your pieces as a side hustle. You will quickly learn how well your art will be received and whether you can turn your passion as an artist into a source of income.