Jessica Poundstone on Colour and Emotion

by | Apr 18, 2024

Photo credit: Christopher Dibble

Jessica Poundstone is an artist and designer based in Portland, Oregon, USA. The core of her practice is her belief that art can change the way we see, think and feel. Informed and inspired by color sensation, minimalism and “light and space” art movements, her work explores the way color affects us emotionally, combining color, structure and softness to create a space for contemplation, comfort and connection.

How and when did your brand and creative journey come to life?

I’ve always been an artsy kid, so I guess my creative journey has and will remain lifelong 🙂 I’d say the moment this phase of the journey came to life was, after regularly posting work to Instagram, I got a DM asking if prints were available. It really lit me up that someone out there liked the work enough to want to live with it. I haven’t looked back since!

Tell us about your biz.

My biz tagline is “ let’s think and feel in color!” I do that through offering prints to collectors, as well as working with interior designers, set decorators, art directors, publishers, and companies like Otto Studio to bring good vibes anywhere and everywhere 🙂 

Photo credit: Christopher Dibble

Tell us about some highlights in your career.

Most recently, a set decorator reached out to me to ask if I’d be willing to have my artwork included in The new “Mean Girls” movie! Of course I said yes, and going to the theater and seeing it in the movie was truly, truly bonkers. I also found a behind-the-scenes picture of the set where Tina Fey (one of my personal heroes) is standing right next to my artwork. Does it even get better than that??? 

What inspires you on a day-to-day basis?

I have always been an image-collector, and get so inspired looking at images of interiors, beautifully designed objects, and work from other artists. I am surrounded by books, and like to leave them open to random pages so they can be living breathing inspirations, instead of just hanging out on shelves. I have a bunch of electronic image files and screenshots that I’ll look at, and of course Instagram is a treasure trove of amazingness. (And hilarious dog videos, which make my life immeasurably better, hahaha.)

Tell us a bit about your capsule collection with Otto Studio. Why did you choose the patterns? What was your inspiration behind these patterns?

The collection has two distinct groups. The first grouping is wall murals, which are based on my Color Cloud and Hyperspectral Sensing collections. I love the idea of folks being able to experience that work in a large-scale, immersive way,

The second grouping is five repeat pattern designs, each of which have three colorways.These are truly just me having so much fun playing with colors and shapes that I love! It’s a pretty eclectic mix with a leaning toward geometric figures. One thread running through is that at least one colorway in each design includes the color pink. I cannot escape my love for pink! I definitely consider it to be a neutral 🙂

What would your advice be to your younger self, knowing what you know now about your career and journey? And to anyone else who is starting out as a creative?

I probably would have embarked on a creative career sooner in my life if I hadn’t been so worried about money! What I wish I would have known is that there are so many ways for creative folks today to support ourselves — teaching, direct sales, licensing, coaching, publishing to name just a few. Do not let skeptical folks convince you otherwise! Also, if you want to make a living with your creative skills, you don’t have to dive right in to trying to make it your full time gig. You can have a part time job — or several! Or you can do what I did for many years, which is to fit a creative practice into the hours of 11pm-2am. Just keep practicing the practice, and keep checking in with yourself about what feels right and good for you — and let that evolve over time to meet your evolving goals and needs. 

Which people or books have had the most influence on your creative growth/inspiration and why?

The French filmmaker Agnes Varda is a hero of mine: she has always been willing to bring her whole, quirky, brilliant, curious self to all of her projects. She has made documentaries, dramas, and even a few hilarious commercials all with her own flair, trusting her own vision and her own ideas. I also love the book “Wishcraft”, which I found via another book, “The Teenage Liberation Handbook”. Both books are basically conveying this message: your life is yours, don’t let other people or restrictive educational or social constructs dictate how to live it. I love that. Making your own way can be tricky, but it’s so worth it!  

Talk about one of the biggest failures you’ve had. What did you learn from it?

My view on “failure” comes from a quote by the legendary actor and director André Gregory: “Everything leads to something.” I have experienced that truth so many times, I don’t even know what to categorize as a failure anymore! I will say that I’ve had many rejections — from artist residencies and art exhibitions and collaborations I’ve applied to or pitched. But in the process of doing the work required to pursue each of those opportunities, I had to get very clear about what I wanted and why I wanted it. And that information is priceless, because knowing what you actually want (not just what other people want for you, or what you think you should want) is just about the most important piece of information you can have to grow in the directions you want to go.

What does a typical day in your week look like?

It’s pretty fascinating, coming from literally decades of working in corporate America (writing, content development, creative director, etc.) how radically different my days are now than they were then. I’ve been self-employed as an artist since 2021, and it took me about a year to detox from the bad patterns I’d gotten into, which was essentially letting myself be driven by anxiety.

As it turns out, anxiety is not necessary for getting things done, or for doing them well. Now, a typical weekday involves very little if any stress, which I could not possibly have imagined as being possible for so many years!

I love staying up really late, which means I don’t love getting up early 🙂 I’m typically up by 9 or 10. First order of business is breakfast (almost always plain yogurt, frozen blueberries and granola) and coffee (pourover, dark, a splash of cream, thank you very much, haha) while scanning email and Instagram to see what I might need to respond to quickly. Depending on how I’m feeling that day, I might take my dog Stanley (he’s a Pug Chihuahua mix, aka a Chug!) for a walk, or get right to work.

If I have design work to do, I might work on my iPad in our living room. If my priority is email responses or anything related to writing, I head down to my basement studio to work on a bigger screen and turn on music (Cuban, French or African – any music with singing that’s not in English – I get too distracted!) or white noise (current mix which I made myself is Brown Noise/Cars/Chimes/Crickets/Extreme Rain) to power through.

Lunch (one-half of Trader Joe’s Southwest Salad mix with some protein and rice cakes dipped in Chipotle Bitchin’ sauce) comes next, usually at around 1pm. I’ll read a book or watch a show during my lunch break so it really feels like a break. 

After that, it’s either back to work or naptime! (Naps with Stanley are absolutely irresistible to me, they are one of my favorite things ever.) And then the afternoon might be spent finishing more work, exploring new ideas in paint or on the internet or in writing, walking Stan, getting in some exercise (Beat Saber on VR! Underdesk bike! Dance workout with Emily Thorne aka emkfit via YouTube! I am trying!) or or just chilling out and reading. 

On the nights when everybody (my husband Ben and our two kids Henry, a high school freshman, and Sophie a high school senior) is home, we’ll all have dinner together and chat about our day (aka the kids using words Ben and I don’t understand and then laughing at us because we are old, hahaha). We have a really good time together as a family, which is such a gift. 

After dinner, Ben and I will watch something together (Taskmaster, Silent Witness, After Midnight, Inspector Montelbano…who knows!) and then he goes to bed around 10:30. I usually then go back to work on my laptop, or head down to the studio to paint. The hours between 11pm-2am are magical for me in terms of getting into a creative zone. I think it might come from so many years of fitting my art practice into my schedule: that was the time I had available. But even though I have my pick of time slots now, these are still the hours I love the best. 

I then (usually begrudgingly but gratefully) head to bed so I can start it all over again the next day 🙂