Jax Frey, 2015 New Orleans Top Female Achiever
Photographed by Jeffery Johnston
Fifteen thousand paintings – that’s how many artist Jax Frey has sold in just her “Little Views” series. The collection depicts iconic images from New Orleans and throughout Louisiana on diminutive, four-inch by four-inch canvases. Frey’s work is collected by art lovers both local and abroad, with customers as far away as Norway and Japan.
Born and raised in New Orleans, Frey left home after college and proceeded to build up a successful career in sales while traveling and living in various states and countries.
After a while, however, she says she became homesick.
“To cope, I’d do these little sketches of things I remembered from home, little things that I was missing, like gumbo and etouffée,” she says.
Seven years ago, Frey finally returned to New Orleans.
While she again began work in sales, art was always on her mind. “I’d see this wonderful art on my travels, gorgeous paintings that I could never afford. So, at one point, I just thought, “I’ll just go home and do one myself.”
Six years ago she created her first painting from one of her sketches. “It was huge,” she laughs. “It barely fit in my car.” She slowly began selling her work at festivals and art shows.
“Stores and galleries liked me and my sales just increased,” she says, noting it was not long before she quit sales and started selling her own work full time. She now works from her home, spending about a week on each mini painting.
“They’re highly texturized and very colorful,” she says, noting that her favorite subjects for her mini paintings are local buildings. “There’s just something about trimming a huge building down in my mind to this tiny square.”
Now that she’s finally home, Frey says she’s never leaving again.
“I need to be here,” she says. “It has been such an embracing experience, coming home. This is where I belong.”
Mentor: At one point I was studying to become a life coach and my own coach gave me some advice that I live by. I asked him how I should go about starting my business and listed off all these things I could do. “Do all of it,” he said. I still do that, when there’s a problem I do everything I can think of and let the solution work itself out.
Defining moment: I think it was that point, that panic point, when I found myself unable to be able to keep up with the orders for my art. I guess that’s when I knew I was on the right path.
Advice for young women: For artists in particular, I’d say don’t just study art, study business. The fact that I have such a strong sales background I think has really served me well.
Goals: They’ve been changing recently. My big one right now is that I want to become so ingrained in this city – just an integral part of it. I want to know everybody. That’s my goal for this year, to meet everyone.
Favorite thing about what I do: When I discover something new with my painting, that’s the fun of it. Every time I sit down to paint I learn something.