Jess Lacroix is a travelling artist who fell in love with Australia after coming here on a uni exchange program to Canberra 4 years ago. She finds herself hopping from place to place meeting other creatives, collaborating and being commissioned for all kinds of artistic projects.
Currently she is in Byron Bay, soaking up their summer and chilled out vibes. We thought now would be the perfect time to catch up with Jess and find out all about her interesting life and work.
Hey Jess! Thanks for having a chat with us while you’re outta town making RAD art in Byron Bay. First up – where did all this creativity come from and how did you start?
Cheers for the groovin’ interview! Art has always been apart of me as far as I can remember holding a pencil or paintbrush or anything that can make a mark. Art is who i am. In every shape, way, ‘n form; no matter where on this wild globe my itchy feet and knack for one-way tickets lands me..
You’re a skateboard designer, a film photographer and a mural painter – how did you come to realise that these were your core talents and/or passions as an artist?
I guess I infuse my many creative passions into everything and anything I can get my hands on, I’m never living the same day twice and constantly being on the go with dabbling in and chasing many of my creative loves. Life’s too short, you know? I’ve always felt routine to be the enemy of creativity. I’ve found inspiration in the chaos of it all. I’ve always painted; the physicality of it sets my passions ablaze.. Skate has always been my grind so I started off sanding down blanks and playing with graphics on decks then decided to build my own presses and moulds to learn through doing how to press veneers into decks from the get-go.. I love the concept of having a hand in the creation of an artwork from absolute groundzero, as opposed to buying a pre-fab canvas.
I have always been a sucker for film cams, lightleaks and sunspots, whether it be old-school large-format view cams, twin-lens reflex viewcams, polaroid’s or ol’ homemade pinholes, the unpredictability of film and meditative reward of developing it by hand in my own darkroom has always had me hooked.
Describe your style as an artist. What do you mostly love to draw/paint?
I’ve always found it way tough to categorize my style as one particular medium or subject matter! Its like my taste in music.. It totally depends on the mood I’m in, the city I’m invigorated by, the sea or the mountains..
I’ve always gotten my hands dirty in all mediums and modalities I can taste – always got my paint-stained hands in +5 radically different passion projects on the go at any point, I’ve never been one for being able to stick my passions into a clean-cut box.. Throughout art school, realism portraiture was always a constant love in playing the field of all mediums. I painted naturalistic portraits of musicians, of still-life compositions of vintage cameras and dream catchers, of 70s Woodstock scenes and concerts I would have loved to go back in time and groove at.
With NoBadDays, my style’s taken on heaps of bite, with so many new influences – tattoo artists, surfboard shapers, musicians, I feel I’ve taken on throughout the wild ride – NoBadDays for me, is about the thrill, the grit, the real-ness, broken decks, scrapes n bruises, bearing guts and glory, laid-back vibes of sun-drenched slide jams or high-octane days in the bowl. It’s pushing the boundaries, being fearless. My inspo burns with travel, surf, skate, fallin’ in love, heartbreak, neon signs, foreign cities and familiar passions. We are rolling stones, beach bums, mountain nomads. We don’t follow the beaten trail, we carve our own. We are wanderers, established never.
Tell us about your label, NoBadDays and how that came to life.
NoBadDays has emanated as the culmination of my time as a traveller through Canada, Australia, California, Arizona, Iceland and everywhere off the beaten trails in between; I launched a little less than a year ago back in my hometown of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada – It felt fitting to launch something with a bang in my ol’ stomping grounds before taking off with itchy feet again!
All the forms that NoBadDays has taken on already has been wild; the stories that have become apart of the brand for me – in gearing my proceeds from t-shirts and skate decks sold to various charities and causes and by others from around the world reaching out – sharing their inspirations and how the ‘nobaddays’ mantra has affected their struggles. This has served as a driving force to step out of the mechanical nine-to-five grind and to live each moment fully awake and inspired, enlivened with passion, as it has for me.
Its been a true passion project, doing my own silk-screening and screen-printing, all production in-house (and now while on the road – I’ve built my own silkscreens, which I carry with me while backpacking and travelling to new cities for NoBadDays pop up shops)- in wanting to create something for the pot-stirrers, and plot-thickeners, for the wanderers like myself, for those who seek to get lost to be grounded (established never) .. NoBadDays is an ode to those who carve, grind, and ride or die.
You made your own silkscreens and now carry them backpacking around ‘Straya to hold pop-up NoBadDays stores. That’s some true dedication and some pretty ultimate girlboss stuff. How much work went into creating them?
Thanks so much, I’ve been all about never living the same day twice for as long as I can remember being bitten by restlessness and an insatiable appetite for thrills and the unknown and that’s landed me many one-way tickets to my free spirit. And I live and breathe art.. Gotta stay close to anything that makes you feel alive.? Its been pretty mad, the past 6 months of living out of a suitcase (mostly filled with art supplies), has become a sort of pilgrimage as well I guess, and I’ve been realizing all you truly need is less – and the rest, well I’ll pick it up along the way and leave pieces of me, my art, my baggage behind, scattered in the golden places and beautiful faces along the way – after all, its easier to feel the sunlight without them.
If you could collaborate with anyone in the world, who would it be?
Some real rad surfboard shapers right here in Byron that I’ve been frothing on – and resin artists I would love to get something jiving with! I’ve lent my designs to musicians’ album artwork, café walls, fashion labels’ threads, skate grip tape.. Truly, I’m game for anything I’ve never done before.
If you could work with any brand in the world, which would it be?
Such a tough question! That’s like asking my favorite place I’ve travelled or where-to next – My problem is I would go anywhere I haven’t been!
When did you first move to Australia? If we didn’t know any better we would have thought you were born and bred right here on our soil. You sure do fit in very well.
It honestly is home. I came down to the Australian National Uni as an exchange student three years ago; a four-month-stint turned into a year.. and I got bitten, by that addictive travel bug, and more prominently, fell in love with Australia. And after graduating uni and travelling solo around the world a couple times over with my artistic passions and getting to exhibit my art through America, Iceland, and Canada, I still couldn’t shake that I had left a part of my heart in Australia. In the surf, in the art scene, in all of its wild. My free-spirited passions led me back here – on a spontaneous one-way ticket, a dare I am no stranger to, haha.
What’s next for Jess Lacroix? (P.s That’s a pretty rockstar name!)
I just turned 24 years old and I feel like I’ve lived 10 lifetimes, having gotten to leave my mark on many remarkable specks on the globe, I feel wildly grateful.. and I don’t intend on slowing this wild ride any time soon.
I have a restless appetite for producing art everyday, as frequently as I fall in love heavy everyday – with a new place, with sunsets, with mountains, with the ocean in a constantly changing horizon. I intend to continue exhibiting my art both in galleries around the world and on the sides of buildings, and through NoBadDays, with handmade tshirts, prints and skate decks. I have a few upcoming exciting collab projects here in Australia that I intend to make waves with. I am always hungry for a new project to sink my teeth into.
I am keen to base myself in Australia, allthewhile continuing to thrive on travel to feed my art, in abandoning the norm and convention, and in finding beauty in the inordinate. In my experience, the only people who ever get anyplace interesting, are the people who dare to get a ill lost.
Describe your typical life in a day:
I have certainly not lived the same day twice in a very long time (or worn shoes.. especially in travelling, being in a new slice of paradise every few days.. I have been living in Byron Bay the past month though, which is the longest I have stayed in one place in awhile.
7am – Swim, surf wake up
9am – Coffee! Maybe pick up where I left off on 4 different projects –
11am – more coffee, been getting out exploring heaps where ever I find myself – I love this quote from Into The Wild – “Nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” I dig that heavy and have been living like that, through art and travel for awhile! Waking with such inspo for the fact that anything can happen – in the paths you cross, with the people you meet, with the everyday specks of overlooked beauty can be oh so striking.
JESS LACROIX in a flash:
Coffee or tea?: Coffee addict!
On your bedside table we’ll find: Sketchbook, polaroids, maybe an LP if there’s a turntable nearby – love my vinyl!
Favourite flowers: Daisies! The wildflowers that can’t be bought.. They remind me of growing up in the country (Canada) and of my mamabear!
Though I’m swooning a lil lately too for the endless frangipanies that I seem to find in my hair everyday of living in the Byronshire.
Book your currently reading: Peace Pilgrim! I’m bad for sitting still and Into the Wild and On the Road are endlessly dog-eared and worn n torn, my travel companion.. but
Signature scent: Lavender – got a few sprigs in the garden outside my art studio here!
5 can’t-live-without handbag contents: Posca Paint markers – have a track record of getting myself into a spontaneous surfboard muck-up on the daily! Polaroid camera (I’ve always got some sort of lil film camera on hand), passport ( a little too free-spirited for my own good – am no stranger to one-way tickets and spontaneous adventures, haha!), NoBadDays stickers! Chapstick – Addicted to Burt’s Bees lip-chap, it’s bad!