Merced, CA -- As you walk up to Jessica Raye Dekker's studio, you'll notice the speckles of paint on the driveway and trashcans nearby. "Before we renovated our garage, I'd paint in the driveway and I'd always seem to paint on Tuesdays, which was trash day," recounts Dekker. "So I'd be painting when the trash was the most full. So when people see my studio, I hope they know I haven't had this the whole time and I've been literally painting with trash and toddlers running around."
Dekker owns JRD Art Shop, where she creates one of a kind backdrops and styling mattes for photographers and other creatives. Each piece is hand-painted by her. "I started selling my abstract art in 2016. Then a local photographer came to me to ask if I could create something like that but on a larger scale, like 8 feet by 12 feet. I thought, yeah I could do that!"
Over the course of a month, Dekker paints mattes and backdrops of different sizes and colors, taking polls on her Instagram page to gauge interest. Then once a month, she launces her collection for sale on her website JRDartshop.com. Her creations have quickly become some of the most sought out backdrops and accessories in the photography industry. As for those who might go straight to the big box stores to get their backdrops, Dekker says "there's a depth and dimension to something that's original, that you just can't get when you print. There's texture and layers that come to life behind a camera and you just can't replicate that."
Although Dekker's art is her passion, she hopes that being a stay at home mom that also makes time for her business, inspires other women to find time for themselves doing something they love. "I've fought the feelings of is this selfish of me? To have a babysitter so I can have time to paint and do something I love? It's not selfish, it's taking care of myself. If I'm not putting myself first, like I do with my family, what am I offering to my family as a mom, as a wife? It's very important for me to show up as the mom I want to be and the wife I want to be."
But most of all, she wants her art to be a means of connection. "It's so much more than art. It's so much more than a business. It's being able to truly connect with people."