Our Story - About Rebecca Jane
 

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Our Story

Prior to ABRJ

Rebecca -

The wonderful artist behind every artwork sporting the '- Rebecca Jane -' signature or 'Art by Rebecca Jane' logo is the very talented Rebecca (Jane) Knowles. Born in Sunshine, Victoria, Australia in 1978. Rebecca loves to tell you that she was born in Sunshine & that's why she is such a ray of sunshine! Rebecca grew up in the small sea side town of Warrnambool, situated on Victoria's south western coast, a stone's throw from the Great Ocean Road.

Rebecca has always been artistic, in her early years it was quite simple to keep her occupied for hours, some bright pencils, paper & a plate of food & she could amuse herself quite well. During her school years Rebecca always had a case of Derwent pencils at hand. Rebecca's school projects were always superbly presented with exquisite illustrations & bright colours, even her school diary was a work of art.

After finishing high school Rebecca discovered painting... & found her media, acrylic paints & canvas. She decided to study a Diploma of Visual Arts through TAFE Victoria. Word spread & soon she was painting artworks for friends & family as well as being commissioned for murals & signwriting by local businesses & organisations. Rebecca also made her first foray into local craft markets with intricately painted toy boxes, jewellery boxes, picture frames, mirrors & many other items.

Two years later Rebecca finished her Diploma, her only formal education in Visual Arts. While thoroughly enjoying art, Rebecca also needed to earn a living, so art took a back seat for a time. Rebecca used her creativity to work successfully as a colour consultant & in retail stores, helping people match furniture & home decor.

She continued painting for pleasure & did the odd job on consignment & also dabbled in lead lighting. Friends & family continued to encourage Rebecca to take the steps required to get her artwork out into the world.

Late in 2013 Rebecca decided to escape the freezing Victorian winters & she moved to the warmth of Hervey Bay, Queensland, Australia. Up in the sunshine where she belongs.

Matt -

Definitely no painting for Matt. Quite happy for Rebecca to keep the spotlight, she had to insist Matt receive credit where credit is due & be included here. Born in Sydney, NSW, later moving as a child to the cold & Snowy Mountains region of southern NSW. Matt has spent a year in Sweden as an exchange student & had a short crack at university at the ANU in Canberra. While studying Matt worked in several cafes & discovered a passion for coffee. After 8 years living in Canberra, Matt moved back closer to his family & briefly owned a small cafe. The snow & stress got a little too much & Matt went on a 'walkabout' up the coast to warmer climes, finally settling in Hervey Bay. Quite by coincidence, this was in late 2013...

Teaming Up for ABRJ

Rebecca & Matt met in November 2014 at the Hervey Bay Squash Club's Christmas party, Matt was a keen (read: not so skilled) squash player & luckily so is Rebecca's mum, Michelle. A few days later Matt turned up at Rebecca's workplace (art supplies store) to "buy some scrap booking materials..." but to actually get Rebecca's phone number, which he then waited 3 days to call, much to Rebecca's alleged anxiety... A whirlwind romance then ensued...

Soon after Matt discovered Rebecca's love & talent for painting & art more broadly...

Art by Rebecca Jane was born, starting out with single marquee (3x3m) at the Urangan Pier Park Markets. Selling Rebecca's original paintings, framed 3d Butterflies & Hearts (paper art) & a few other handmade items. It quickly became apparent that while people loved Rebecca's art, it was difficult to sell original artwork for the value of time that goes into them & ABRJ needed to find a way to make Rebecca's artwork more available...

Progress

Matt began researching fine art printing. Rebecca was hesitant, she worried that prints would not reproduce her vibrant colours. Matt spent dozens of hours researching printers, papers & products that could be printed, finally being confident that a bright, vibrant product could be produced.

ABRJ began printing postcards, bookmarks, unframed & framed prints, greeting cards, gift tags & fridge magnets. These products were a hit, customers loved the vibrancy & Rebecca's unique style of painting, but in order too make a living ABRJ needed to keep the ball rolling.

Tourism being a huge part of the economy on the Fraser Coast, ABRJ needed to capture more of this market with souvenirs...& stubby coolers seemed a great addition, but would they be bright enough?

Australian made, great quality & brightness that matched the artwork, the stubby coolers were a great hit. ABRJ then began to expand the range of neoprene products to include coasters, sunglass cases, wine bottle, champagne bottle & water bottle coolers, pencil cases & placemats, all made in good old Australia.

By this stage (December, 2018) ABRJ had expanded its footprint at the Urangan Pier Park Market to a 6m x 3m site. The business being run from a 3 bedroom townhouse was in desperate need of space, so expanded into a 4 bedroom, double garage house with what Rebecca would initially describe as a "Huge" shed (3.m x 6m).

With space in abundance it was time for some new products...

Problems... Solutions

Having discovered a new world of interesting products ABRJ tracked down a supplier & made an order...& waited...& asked for updates...& waited...& stopped asking for updates...

In the meantime, trouble was brewing with an existing supplier, product was arriving on our doorstep it was late (months) & much of it unsellable. Negotiations ensued, compromises made & the relationship continued...until it didn't.

It felt like being hit with two negatives in a row, so ABRJ did some tricky maths & multiplied those negatives to get a positive & decided "We'll do it ourselves!"

Again Matt, began to research, this time dye sublimation printing. Orders were placed, equipment arrived, training ensued & the supplier we hadn't heard from in months sent us our samples... "Thanks, but we've got this covered now!"

Production using the new dye sublimation equipment began! Ladies short & long wallets, mens wallets, bibs, bottle openers, cushion covers, puzzles, coin pouches, printing their own coasters & placemats, journals, mugs, carry bags, tea towels & sooooo much more.

That "Huge" shed & double garage were getting rather full & ABRJ had grown to a 9m x 3m site at the Urangan Pier Park Market. In July 2019 ABRJ packed up & moved again, this time to an actual "Huge" shed.

Today

That is where we catch up with the ABRJ crew. ABRJ attend the Urangan Pier Park Market every Saturday, their wares can be found in over 20 retail outlets up & down the east coast.

Rebecca is painting as often as possible while also doing her part to get this massive website up & running. Matt is printing & getting the things behind the scenes that get Rebecca's awesome artwork out for you all to enjoy. Let's not forget to thank the rest...

In no particular order:

  • Ange Mulik: spending hours & hours uploading images to this website, doing & redoing things that Matt failed to explain properly. Ange & Pete are great supporters & friends.
  • Ray Strachan, from Smartspace websites: providing the framework for this site, changing this & that on Bec & Matt's whims.
  • Michelle Freitag: for whispering in Rebecca's ear about that nice guy Matt at squash, the support, encouragement & the rest.
  • Steve & Irene Shirvington: for everything you have done & continue to do, to list it all would be impossible.
  • All the other friends & family that both encourage & caution ABRJ, you keep us reaching for the sky, with our feet firmly on the ground.
  • The customers & fans: those that share a bit of ABRJ love to their family & friends that visit or post ABRJ products around Australia & the World. The people that drop by for a chat to see what's new, even those Matt & Bec have never met whose days are brightened due to a chance drop in to the ABRJ market stall.
  • The Urangan Pier Park Markets: committee members & stallholders, past & present.
  • For past, present & future support: Fraser Coast Regional Council & Fraser Coast Tourism & Events, Hervey Bay Triathlon Club, Lady Elliott Island, Goody's on the Beach, Gladstone Area Promotions & Development Limited & Pacific Whale Foundation.
  • Andrew Ellis: Loving Bec's art from the start, the encouragement & opportunities....
  • All our wonderful stockists!
  • The crew of the Elangeni, true lovers of Rebecca's artwork. They study it so well they find things Bec didn't even know was there.
  • Brandy the Cat, we miss you & your Purrrfect Purrs so much.
  • Cherry the Cat, the real boss behind ABRJ, but really, he's fine after a coffee...
  • The bank, couldn't do this without you.

A final note from Rebecca & Matt, 'Thank you for supporting our business & our passion.'

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