We had the good fortune of connecting with Jacob Spacek and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jacob, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
When I started JS Canvas, I had recently been let go from a decorative painting job, which was the best job I had ever had up until then, and I spent a lot of time sitting around my apartment thinking about what to do: Where should I apply for a new job? What kind of career path did I want to pursue? Should I just get a restaurant job to pay the bills? All sorts of things like that. So, I’m trained as an artist and I had a pretty large network of artists friends in Houston, and I wanted something that would allow me to still have time to paint, and I wanted something that allowed me to stay connected in the art world, and all of the sudden I had an epiphany: I don’t know anyone who builds custom canvases. From there, I thought that is a service that I want for myself and I thought about for a day or two and I decided I would go for it. And here I am, four years later and I haven’t looked back since.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
As I mentioned, I am a trained painter and continue to pursue my own career as an artist. My work is sort of painterly, net-expressionist, figurative abstraction using a lot of heavy brushwork, and gestural mark-making. I’ve been keeping my work under wraps for the last couple years, but can tell you that I am honing my craft and am working on a series of monsters that play on the duality of being whimsical, fun and colorful, while at the same time representing danger, fear and the struggles we encounter in our daily lives. Running your own business is a lot like confronting a monster. Business often requires you to step outside of your comfort zone and do things that you don’t want to do or that aren’t in your preferred skill set. These obstacles can seem insurmountable, but those are often the areas that present the largest opportunity for growth. I try to keep that in mind when I’m presented with a problem for the business. I’ve encountered many problems, whether there is an issue with quality control, or logistics, or meeting production timelines or problems with employees, I always find that if I confront it head on, the problem goes away. Nothing is easy when running your own business and in some ways, the most difficult part for me is knowing that I have this plan and that what I am doing professionally with JS Canvas is part of the process, but keeps me from focusing on my art. That being said, it is also the driving force that keeps me motivated to keep going. I guess the lesson that I take from that is that there needs to be something meaningful behind a business to make it successful. I have found that my own art and meeting the needs of my clients with JS Canvas are inter-related. The more I strive to make the perfect canvas, the better my art becomes.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I just moved the business to Sequin, Texas, which will allow me to expand my services to San Antonio while maintaining my clients in Houston, so I haven’t had time to explore here and don’t really know where I would take a friend yet, but if I were to show my best friend Houston, I would start with the Rothko Chapel at the Menil. That is one of the greatest places I have found anywhere in the world. From there, I would take them to get some Vietnamese food at Mai’s Restaurant in midtown and then see what is happening at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston or the Contemporary Art Museum of Houston. From there, we would probably grab a drink at Rudyard’s before going gallery hopping. There are too many great galleries in Houston to name, so there is always a few shows that are worth seeing. After that, we would get some Mexican food at either Chipultapec or Last Concert Cafe.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
It takes a lot to start a small business and I definitely have had a ton of help from many, many people throughout this journey. I’d like to start by shouting out my wife, Ewa (pronounced “Ava”), for the many years of support and often putting my ambitions first. She really is the best, and I can’t imagine life without her. Next, my Mom, who bought me the mitre saw that I still use today as a birthday present to help me get started and my sister, Megan, for being my long time confidant. I also owe much of the credit for where JS Canvas is today to my former partner, Ken General, who has moved on to work on his own projects, but taught me many lessons about life and running a business. I wish him the best and I know he is always working on some awesome project somewhere. And finally, all of my clients, especially those who have been with us from the beginning, I wouldn’t be making canvases without your support. I’ve learned so much by working with you and talking to each of you to get feedback. Listening to your needs has been vital in developing the highest quality products and has allowed us to continue to grow and alway improve what we do as a company.
Yelp: JS Canvas
Image 1: Artist Gaston Carrio Image 2: Artwork by Gonzo