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Strokes of Genius

In the A-List Spotlight: Jason Adkins Celebrates His Works in Restoration Hardware, Celebrity Photo Spreads, and the Upcoming 'Obliterated'

His work is seen, appreciated, and owned by art enthusiasts and aficionados across the country. 

But when one of Jason Adkins’ pieces made a high-end magazine as part of a photoshoot for celebrity and business owner Portia de Rossi, out of all the artist tools and equipment at his disposal, its creation originated from something a bit less highbrow and more mainstream—a mop. 

The March 2022 issue of Santa Barbara Magazine featured de Rossi—the wife of Ellen Degeneres and a former actress—and her company, General Public. General Public seeks out high-end caliber work by talented artists who deserve the spotlight and should be accessible to the public. The company’s mission to bring equity to the art audience is accomplished through partnerships like the one with Restoration Hardware. 

Adkins was among the artists General Public was collaborating with. In the magazine photo spread, de Rossi is elegantly striking a pose next to one of Adkins’ large-scale works, wearing a dress in the same pattern that replicated the strokes and texture of the piece.

“She wore a dress that mimicked the painting and stood next to it. Just like that, the painting started selling well,” Adkins says.

This finish was done by Adkins dipping a mop into black paint and running it over the white canvas in what appears to be random broad strokes. But the entire composition indicates it’s not as random as it is inspiration-driven, with eye-catching sweeping strokes that leap off the canvas. 

This process is an example of Adkins’ edge and innovation that has propelled him to the heights of a competitive industry. It’s become a popular piece in Restoration Hardware’s catalog, with requests for Adkins to do commissioned versions for individual buyers. It’s also brought a new way of painting and artistry into the public spotlight. 

However, this would not have happened had Adkins followed his initial reaction to the original that started it all. 

“It was ugly. Horrible. It was just about experimenting,” he recalls. “I was going to junk it.”

Known for its contemporary sophistication that flaunted neutral palettes, Restoration Hardware’s audience was not the type to go for what Adkins had done in a bold shade of magenta. Thoughts of the home decor chain even considering it seemed ridiculous to him.

Then, the people at General Public saw something that went beyond color. They asked Adkins to ship it over. They copied the texture of the mop strokes but changed the color to make it more Restoration Hardware-friendly. 

“It told me how hard I am on myself sometimes. There are pieces for everybody. What may be junk to me is a treasure to somebody else,” Adkins says. 

And just like that, Adkins’ works found their way into homes across the country. His passion for creative tools continues with palette knives, paint rollers, and brooms in his arsenal.

Soon Adkins’ can also be spotted on television, computer, and smartphone screens worldwide in “Obliterated,” the much-anticipated Netflix action-comedy series from the creators of the smash hit “Cobra Kai.”

Because details are kept under wraps until its release, Adkins cannot reveal much—but he can say his 4-foot by 6-foot painting is done in blue and white and will be featured in one of the show’s main meeting rooms as the background with the primary characters. 

A native of Tennessee, Adkins has been painting since he was a young child. He moved around a lot after college but settled in Phoenix in 2018. 

“I was searching for meaning, just experiencing new cities and meeting new people,” Adkins says of his wanderlust ways, which dovetailed with his talent and love for art. “I was always into creating, making things, and using my imagination. With all of that comes life experiences, and experience in experimenting.” 

He talks about the freedom of thought and expression that comes with being an independent professional artist. At 49, he knows what he wants and how to achieve it, with complete responsibility and without any oppressive outside influence.

He was represented by a Los Angeles art gallery for about two years, but left it over a decade ago to completely go solo.

“I really just wanted to be alone and figure out things on my own instead of somebody constantly critiquing me,” he says. 

Sometimes he sees familiar brush strokes, patterns, or textures in others’ work. When asked how he feels about newer artists replicating his technique, Adkins says he is fine with it. In a way, he views it as helping up-and-comers come into their own. 

“Through my life experiences, I know that, as they discover who they want to be, they will eventually incorporate some strokes I do into a passion of their own. And their work will evolve,” Adkins says. “As you go through life, you’ll become more you than anything else.”