Piece by Piece
How artist Jessie Bearden creates works that are one-of-a-kind
by Avery Tanner
Speaking to Jessie Bearden is a rare and special occurrence. She is busy as can be – and for good reason. Bearden has accomplished far more than the average 27-year-old. With more than 33,000 Instagram followers, collaborations with national brands, and a unique portfolio of artwork, the multifaceted artist, designer, and art director is truly an overachiever. She attributes much of her artistic career to her home of Austin, Texas . “Growing up in Austin, the city is teeming with music and creativity, which was a huge part of my upbringing,” says Bearden.
Bearden attended St. Andrew’s Episcopal School, where her dedication to art truly began. “Our curriculum had a strong art history base along with passionate teachers who allowed us to express ourselves artistically however we pleased while simultaneously teaching us technique,” she says. To this day, she still uses techniques she learned in high school as her career grows.
Bearden has been consistently growing her Instagram following for years, crafting original works of art out of non-traditional materials. There’s Jimi Hendrix made from popcorn, Beyoncé made from lemons, Ariana Grande made from pouches of sweetener – and there’s plenty more where those came from. Bearden loves the challenge of finding an unorthodox material and making it work to represent the art’s subject. She chooses icons that people have seen a thousand times before, and aims to represent them in a new and original way.
After moving to New York City upon graduation from the University of Texas, Bearden started working with brands, creating one-of-a-kind artwork to be used in multi-platform advertising campaigns. At first only a side gig, Bearden was soon lucky enough to make this work her full-time job. She attributes her success with brands to her commitment to her own personal creativity. “Creating art purely for myself has allowed me to experiment and not overthink my work.” Notable projects include campaigns with McDonald’s, American Express, and GAP, among others.
Most recently, Bearden worked with ESPN to create 40 ft. portraits of Serena Williams and Roger Federer for the U.S. Open. These portraits were created on tennis courts out of tennis balls and have been seen by millions of people. She describes her work on such campaigns and the number of people who have seen it as “immensely satisfying and humbling.”
Bearden has come a long way for someone who originally thought that making art the center of her career would be impractical and says that her Austin roots ground her as her career thrives. All that Bearden does is impressive, but above all else, her commitment to creativity is what propels her. “I have a lot of ideas and can’t wait to see them all come to life.”