The last five years have been a little brighter and more interesting for the people of Conway thanks to a leap of faith from a local artist.
“I think for a long time it was conveyed to me that art wasn’t a realistic career to approach,” said mural artist Jessica Jones. “Although it was something I was passionate about from the time I was a child, I never viewed it as something I should pursue with intention. So, it kind of happened organically.”
Intentional or not, it did happen. This full-time artist with an unconventional career path has made her mark by creating beautiful art in unconventional places: electrical boxes, trails, tunnels, and large indoor and outdoor walls.
“Every wall has challenges in different ways, and a key part of doing this is being flexible because every wall is different – drywall is different than corrugated metal,” Jones said.
Working in those mediums has its own set of challenges, but Jones says public art is a special cause close to her heart.
“I always use the example that if you look at developing countries that have very little, they may not have running water, but they have art and music,” she said. “That speaks to how important it is to have expression.”
Life can be hard, so Jones said having something vibrant to uplift your spirit can be encouraging.
“Murals are accessible to everyone. A member of the homeless community may not feel comfortable walking into a gallery, but anyone walking down the side of the street can appreciate a mural and feel like it’s theirs. And that’s my jam.”
Jones describes her journey to becoming a full-time artist as “organic.” That idea is prevalent in her art as well.
“As far as my personal art goes, I prefer to work with organic creatures, flowers, and animals. It’s really awesome living in The Natural State because if you slow down, there’s so much beauty and little things that really inspire me.”
Jones’ approach has obviously led to professional, not just artistic, success. She is still early in her career but has enough experience to offer aspiring artists candid advice about how to take a more intentional approach.
“Charge for your work. A misnomer that I’m constantly fighting against is that if you do what you love, you shouldn’t charge for it,” Jones said. “But if you don’t charge for it, then you can’t do what you love for a living.”
Jones’ commitment to Conway’s art community goes beyond giving advice. Recently, she organized several artists to participate in a project decorating the walls and tunnels along the Tucker Creek Trail.
“I really like Conway. There’s a community mindset. There’s a growing momentum of wanting to better this area and not just stay stagnant. As a creative, it’s definitely something that I want to be a part of.”