Corporate vs. Creative

I love the story of a corporate working professional busting the mould and becoming an Artist. So I just had to talk to Graphic Designer come Artist, Jessica Lyons to find out if it’s all its cracked up to be.

Tell us about going from corporate work to creating art for a living?
I was never motivated to be a successful or famous artist, I just love making things. I started to live my life in ways that gave me more time to create. My work as a graphic designer actually helped me, teaching me design principles that often come through in my artwork. Plus I still do some freelance graphic design work, the flexible schedule gives lets me create when I’m feeling creative and work in the other hours.

How did you know you wanted to do something different?
I was always making things as a kid, but never thought of myself as an artist. Later when working as a designer, and my creativity feeling a little stagnant, I got idea of going back to uni to do Fine Art. But working in a corporate environment that felt pretty far out! The idea of going to study something that didn’t have a commercial outcome wasn’t so well received. Then I went traveling. I realised people live and think so differently, the office bubble was just one way. You get excellent perspective when away from regular life… So I decided to go for it!

Why do you love making things so much?
It’s different to work life. At work I think about all the other things that need to be done, or something unrelated (like, what’s for lunch!) When I’m making art none of that happens. I’m just deep in the moment, exploring things. That has to be the key to life, those times you feel absorbed in what you whatever you’re doing… For me, the art process is being in the moment.

Tell us about your creative process if that’s what you call it?
“Art for me is about having the freedom to play. We forget how to play as we grow up, so this journey has been about breaking down any expectations on myself and and trying new things”

If you had to describe the colour yellow to someone who can’t see…
I’d say happiness and excitement. Warmth, like the feeling of the sun on your skin.

Quote of the day?
“Without mistakes, you’ll never create something original” or “Creativity is making mistakes, art is knowing which ones to keep” – I always write an iteration of this in the front of my sketchbooks, cause if I’m not making mistakes, then I’m playing too safe. Creating is a process, you can’t be precious or too attached to an outcome. I’m always learning to let things not look ‘good’, while experimenting. Eventually something interesting appears – that discovery feels great.

So what is the main difference between the two walks of life?
Art isn’t results driven, its the journey. I’d be surprised to meet an artists who finishes a piece that’s their original thought. Mostly it’s a lot of fun. Art has given me the sanity to deal with corporate life! In return, art has made me a better designer because I’m more open to experimentation and not just doing things I’ve seen before or that I know work. I’m more open to push in different directions.

New stuff you’re getting in to?
I’ve been playing with animation which is fun! That’s my tech-side coming through. I’m also making some paper prisms, big faceted structures with hand printed paper. I want to try them in perspex and wood.

What has surprised you so far?
Social media actually, and what it makes possible for artists. I’ve had people from the other side of the world purchase things after seeing it on my instagram. I also landed a job creating a stop-motion animation for Nike after posting a playful one I had made – and the right person seeing it!

Advice for Artists?
Experiment. Play around. Its all about trying things. I have boxes of trials, most is junk but it’s all part of creating. If its not going to hang on the wall that’s OK too, its art for the sake of the making – art therapy!


Click here to visit Jess at or jessy_lyons.