Originally published on Lifestyle Maverick Blog
Jessica Pearson – also known as Jay Pea Art – creates quirky linocuts and handprinted cards from her home studio in the seaside town of Exmouth. Having lived and worked as a graphic designer in London for 16 years, she recently moved back down to Devon, determined to find a place where she could express herself as an artist. This led Jessica to convert what was once a dining room into a bright and airy studio space, where she now creates fun contemporary artwork inspired by the beach and all the things that make her happy 🙂
Amongst her busy schedule of freelance designing, printing and painting, Jessica took the time to answer a few of my burning questions…
How would you describe your personal outlook on life?
I am in the process of simplifying things. I’m very much a believer in a simple life. Having had a successful summer growing my own vegetables, I have been bitten by the bug! I’ve done the 9-5.30 office job and am working on a different approach to life. My income is now coming from a variation of things and is enabling me to break that routine and enjoy life in a different way. Being my own boss seems to work for me, I am quite motivated (when I have to be!). Spending time with friend’s, walking on the local beach, meeting new people, taking part in local markets and of course being in my studio is when I am happiest.
Where do you find inspiration for your colourful Lino Prints?
Having been a graphic designer for nearly half of my life I look at things in an aesthetic way. I have always aimed to create work that I would hang my own walls, but ultimately making a person smile and triggering happy memories would be my key inspiration. Yes I am influenced by fashion and interior design trends, but I like to add my own twist. Colour has played a key role in my life. Mixing the inks to develop palettes that compliment each other, as well as making a statement, is all part of the package in a Jaypea print. I’d like to think that my work is an extension of me and my personality.
Do you remember what the first piece of art you sold was?
My ‘artist’ career started around 18 years ago when I used to sell work in a gallery on Clapham Common and in Brighton. Back then my work was acrylic painting. I still dabble in this media but my heart is now in printing. My first print sale was my mackerel print ‘Supper’ – which still continues to be my best seller! I only do runs of 10, but have changed the background colours and size of the print to get more life out of it. I took part in the Budleigh Food Festival a few years ago and I remember selling 3 prints to a lovely couple who had just finished renovating their kitchen and thought my work would fit in well. I was chuffed by this and it gave me the confidence to carry on with this new venture.
What tools of the trade couldn’t you live without?
Well, the obvious things to mention are lino tiles, carving tools and inks! But I think my Mac is a key part of my work, not just for research, social media and emailing, but for creating the ideas as well. The manipulating and simplification of my imagery is all done on my trusty computer. Having said that, a fresh blade on a scalpel never ceases to thrill! My studio has become the room in my home that I spend the most time in – although not a ‘tool’ it is essential in my day to day work and has definitely helped with my creativity and increased my productivity.
Have you faced many challenges pursuing an creative career path?
Yes, definitely. The reoccurring lack of faith and confidence in creativity actually being a ‘career’ from certain people has always been disheartening. Yet it is all I have ever known and been good at. Working as a designer in London I had the opportunity to work with many brilliant companies, but creativity wasn’t always the main priority. This was disappointing, but it drove me to throw myself into my art and crafts during my personal time and from this I have grown my audience through markets, social media and online shops.
Who are some of your favourite designers and/or brands?
David Hockney was a strong influence when I was at school studying art. I loved and still love the simplicity of his work and how his paintings represented a modern life, a contemporary artist making contemporary masterpieces. Also Julian Opie (Ever since the Blur album cover!) and Dick Bruna, of Miffy fame, have both been a huge inspiration. Their bold use of block colours and simple illustrations are just wonderful. Of course there’s the genius Andy Warhol, combining graphic design with art. Recently I have discovered the talents of Jane Foster, a local Devonian, Liekeland from Holland and Monann, all lovely feel good illustrators who I look up to.
If you could collaborate with anyone (past or present) who would it be & why?
I have grown up with Habitat being the place for interior design inspiration. In the eighties I remember going with my mum and buying red accessories for the kitchen. Red metal lampshades with big coiled red cables, red and white chequered biscuit and teabag jars. Even today I have some Habitat products in my home. I would love to collaborate with them, producing some limited edition prints only available from them.
Oliver Heath or Kevin McCloud would also be amazing to work with. Both are amazing talents within the interior world and it would be a dream come true to work on a project with either.
What’s the best thing about being based in Devon?
Surely there is no need to ask the question?! After 16 years living in London, it was the only place for me to go for a change of pace and lifestyle. I would come down to Exeter and eventually Budleigh for weekends with family and never enjoyed that train journey back up on a Sunday evening! Now whenever I visit friends in the Big Smoke I am always happy to be coming back this way on the trip home! The journey between Exmouth and Exeter on the train will always be a highlight for me. Exeter is a very creative place to be and I have met some lovely likeminded people since moving here. Being near to the sea is never going to be a bore. I am very lucky to live in this part of the world and never once regret making the move.
If you weren’t working as an artist/graphic designer, what do you think you’d be doing?
That is something I have never thought about until now! I’ve been drawing since I was a little girl. I might have to come back to this!…
OK, after some thought I think something to do with garden design (is that too similar?!) or interior design (again too closely related) A tree surgeon?! If I’d concentrated more during my piano lessons as a kid I think being a musician would be a fantastic career. My sister works in the music business and she gets to go to some pretty amazing events.
Alternatively I think I’d be happy working for a charity, helping people less fortunate than myself. Or for an organic food producer, such as Riverford.
Lastly, where’s the best place to find/buy your work?
My online shops – Artfinder, Etsy and Folksy are constantly being updated with new work. I often take part in local markets. Made It Devon, a contemporary craft market I have set up, showcases some of the best creative talent in my local area. We recently had a market on the lovely rooftop of The Stable in Exeter which was a great success. The market has now come to Oddfellows in Exmouth on a monthly basis, so I can be found there over the next few months! I also like to take part in Paper Phoenix at The Phoenix, Exeter. The gorgeous Georgie & Flo stock my work on Gandy Street, Exeter. Alternatively I am happy to hear from anyone, interested in my work and commissions, by email and social media.
Jay Pea on Etsy: www.etsy.com/uk/shop/jaypeaart