Every other year, New Times puts the spotlight on Phoenix's creative forces — painters, dancers, designers, and actors. Leading up to the release of Best of Phoenix, we're taking a closer look at 100 more. Welcome to the 2016 edition of 100 Creatives. Up today is 98. Jessica Rowe.
Jessica Rowe tried to take the practical path.
Although the 31-year-old Gilbert resident, who grew up in Tempe, had been drawing for as long as she could remember, she couldn't quite see how to make a career out of it. So Rowe became an interior designer, channeling her creative energy into a field that promised steady work.
Visual art still beckoned, however.
"I shared some watercolor paintings I’d done on an interior design blog I was running at the time, just for fun," Rowe tells New Times, "and I got a lot of requests from people wanting to buy them."
The requests didn't stop. Rowe started offering prints of her breathy but bold works, which often feature close-ups of parted red lips on a stark white background or leafy greenery. "It wasn’t until people started asking to buy my paintings and the demand continued to grow that I realized my dream job — being an artist — was actually possible."
Since devoting more of herself to her art and selling it directly to her fans under the banner The Aestate, Rowe's work has been featured in Vogue Living Australia, up for sale in Jonathan Adler's JA Finds collection (where he features makers he's fallen hard for), and on Apartment Therapy. It's impressive, sure, but the artist hasn't forgotten what got her here.
"I owe a lot to the people who supported and encouraged me in the very beginning," she says, "because I’m not sure I would’ve had the confidence to really put myself and my work out there without them."
I came to Phoenix with probably a pacifier because I was a baby.
I make art because I feel like creating gives my life purpose. I really only feel satisfied when I’m making something.
I'm most productive when I’m full of caffeine and listening to music.
My inspiration wall is full of sketches, color swatches, quotes, and some of my daughter’s drawings.
I've learned most from just going for it. I used to be more hesitant and more of a perfectionist, but I’ve learned to stop fearing failure and to just accept mistakes as inevitable and part of the process. There really is no better way to learn.
Good work should always be a little bit imperfect. It's that human element, where you can see the hand of the artist, that makes a piece for me. When something is a little bit “off,” it really makes the art interesting and real. I think too much perfection is a mistake.
The Phoenix creative scene could use more local support and incentives for creatives to stay in the Valley — affordable housing and studio spaces, for example. There are so many amazing artists and creators here; I think the Phoenix art scene has the potential to really explode and that could give it the push it needs. The Phoenix New Times 100 Creatives feature is a great example of local support, putting the word out there and letting buyers/patrons know about the talent in their own backyard.
The 2016 Creatives so far:
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.