How Artist Jai Vasicek Brought a Little Bit of Europe to Brunswick Heads

Welcome to The Makers. Each week, we’re celebrating innovators, artisans and crafters of all types, taking you on a private tour of their creative spaces. For this instalment, we head to the exotic home of artist Jai Vasicek in the Northern Rivers region.

When artist Jai Vasicek met his partner Matt, a filmmaker, the couple bonded over their shared love of film, art, fashion and culture. Their love for all things theatrical would go on to inform the couple’s life together. It’s the guiding inspiration behind their maximalist dream home in Brunswick Heads, and the reason for several of their decorating choices.

“This space takes me back to the spaces of Europe,” Vasicek explains. The spaces that remind him of cinematic, Luhrmann-esque settings: wide, tiled terraces overlooking greenery, antique-filled kitchen with a cherry red splashback, a ceiling plastered with a decorative motif. “When you enter our place you feel a presence that is very global,” the artist says. “Every door and window is from somewhere other than Australia. It feels amazing to live in Australia and feel like I’m in Europe.”

The whole house has been decorated with this unique and exotic sensibility in mind. “It is our belief that every piece of furniture should activate you with a memory or a good feeling,” Vasicek says. “Not just a trend.” Like the artwork by Stan Piechaczeck, a piece called “I’ve Got Your Back”. “It represents my relationship,” he says. “So everyday I see it, it just puts a smile on my face.”

Vasicek’s artistic output, which began with paintings and now sees him dabble in ceramics and fashion, is vast, and when he comes home he likes to feel renewed for the next day’s creative work. One way he achieves that? Fresh sheets from Bed Threads, in calming shades of Sage and Olive. “I find patterns and prints hectic when it comes to my bed,” he explains. “I sometimes think simple is the best, it keeps your mind quiet… I think your bed needs to always feel like a new canvas every day.”

Hi Jai! This series is called The Makers. What is it that you make?

I am a creative and an artist, I can't say that I make one particular thing. So I am a maker of many things and at the moment I'm exploring mediums on canvas such as oils and acrylics and resins. A new inspiration sparking within me now is ceramics, and venturing into the world of fashion. I prefer to make everything, then to design and get it manufactured.

How does the act of “making” relate to your personality and who you are?

Everything I make is really some facet of me – the personality that I am. The act of making by going for it inspires other people. I'm super ‘loud’ with my work but very ‘shy’ with the procedure and the creative process. From making to exhibiting is a way that I express myself. Making really is who I am and what I make reflects where I have been and travelled and also how I’m feeling.

Tell us about your career journey to date. Did you always know you wanted to pursue this line of work?

I think everyone has an instinct, like an ‘animal instinct’. There is something in knowing how things become that feels second nature, rather than something taught. Some people are singers naturally, some are songwriters and others are architects. For me, it's always been there and I have learnt to not ignore it and follow the inner child – I always like fulfilling ideas and desires from when I was young.

Talk us through your creative process. Where do you start?

I like to say my creative process is ‘channelled’. Sounds a bit out there. But I think most art is ‘channelled’, too. I generally don't know the colours I am going to start with, I tend to go on feeling. I randomly select colours from a mixed box then I feel if that works or not. I don't think there are many tools for art. I like to embrace the freedom, not to feel restricted. That's when the magic happens!  

What’s been the single most crucial tool or strategy you’ve used to grow your creative business?

Collaborate and try to be open – don’t shut something down if it's never been done before. Try things even if they fail. My best works have always been from the biggest mistakes. A huge lesson is if it's good, then people will copy you. But what I learnt from this is that you are best to focus on YOU rather than wasting energy justifying your work in this world. People will work it out for themselves eventually.

Also, don't be attached to one thing – evolve and if it seems strange it's only because it's new. Also, some very good business advice: Get a good accountant. It's a GAME CHANGER. As creative as you want to be, it's also very good to know where you're going with it.

What’s been the most challenging lesson learnt since you started your business?

Roles and relationships within the business are a challenge for me. It's very hard to remove emotion when you're in a creative industry. The way I deal with it is if the energy isn't a match to the vision, generally it won't work out with those people, and I move on to other things.

I feel my creations are not owned by me. Creations pass through me – I feel I'm just the vessel for inspiration to be translated. Other people can mislead my directions if they feel insecure or are experiencing their own challenges. This affects my ability to work and I only ever create when I am feeling aligned and good. Finding balance during the creative process is challenging with many energies. I do need a team but it's about finding the right people that understand my creative dynamic.

What’s been the best thing that’s happened to you since you started your business?

I think the best thing to happen to me in the business is really understanding who I am and what I can do. It's been an amazing journey and I am still learning every day. I love navigating, even through problem solving, because it brings you closer to yourself. I'm starting to be around some incredible people who are wanting to collaborate and this comes into other things I'm interested in exploring, such as film and fashion.

I am beginning to be inspired by some incredible creatives and its opening many possibilities – some days it feels like ‘choose your own adventure’ whoever you align with. Travel has also served as a massive plus with the business because it's become a vital part of my inspiration, so the very fact I can do this with my work keeps the inspiration alive.

Shop Jai's look with Olive and Sage in our Build-Your-Own Bundle.

Do you have a single piece of advice you’d give to your younger self/ someone looking to start their own business?

I still don’t give up on that little boy with the biggest dreams and desires. I feel that I serve my inner child everyday by answering all the ideas I once dreamed about. My advice is don't spend so much time seeking the approval of who you are, as you will learn that you are always changing and evolving.

Remove the idea of ‘becoming something’ and just be true to who you are than the perception of others, because in the end it took 20 years to work that out and it's just so much easier. Being true to who you are really reflects everything else, including your business. Work that out quicker and I think you will get there whatever that is quicker – but really when you get there, life just keeps unfolding. Also partnerships in business don't work for you.  

Now, the home stuff. How long have you lived in your home?

Two years. 

Did you do any renovations or make any big changes after moving in?

The house was built by Will and Jo White, who we have known for about 10 years. I always dreamed of living in one of their spaces, as they are an amazing family that travelled the world. When you enter our place you feel a presence that is very worldly. Every door and window is from somewhere other than Australia. It feels amazing to live in Australia and feel like I'm in Europe.

What are your favourite pieces in the home?

My Fenton and Fenton couch, which is Aussie made.

Do you have any special décor pieces you’re looking to add?

I am saving up for a Sarah Ellison Yoko bed! It just launched and it’s beautiful!

Shop Jai's look with Olive and Sage in our Build-Your-Own Bundle.

Which is your favourite room in the house?

The living room. It has a beautiful message on the walls that reads: “Bless this house may it be filled with love and laughter”.  

What are your top tips for a well-styled bedroom, and home generally?

It’s all about the bed linen -- I know that sounds cliche because you guys are interviewing me, but really it's about how it looks and feels. And we adore our Bed Threads.

Do you have any projects coming up you want to talk about?

I have a show coming up called “BEIJA FLOR” on December 1 which is all about the time I lived in Brazil. We recently came back from filming in Brazil. I am so excited to launch this exhibition!

For more from Jai, follow him at @jaivasicek and jaivasicek.com

Loved this home tour? Chocolate Maker Emica Penklis' House Is a Luxurious Minimalist Dream

Discover more of Australia's most beautiful homes in our series, The Makers.

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