In the name of art


Newcastle Jets defender Jacob Pepper has created his own business based on his love of drawing.

It-s early December and the Newcastle Jets have just completed a solid training session.

As the players disperse from the field, all buggered and bruised, they head home for some well deserved down time.

Some go and sleep or spend time with family, while others like defender Kew Jaliens sits back and listens to his favourite gospel music tunes.

Jacob Pepper, though, takes a different path.

As soon as he gets back to the sanctuary of his home, he takes out a blank piece of paper, a pencil and draws.

“Sometimes on the training pitch you-ll have a bad day, but to just go home and chill out and draw something up takes your mind off it,” Pepper says.

“That-s especially the case leading up to games.

“You don-t always want to be thinking about the game, so if you-ve got other things on your mind it-s really good.

“So I-ll just chill out and draw stuff up.”

Welcome to the creative side of Pepper, a passion that helps the Jets- midfielder switch off when he isn-t competing hard in the Hyundai A-League.

It-s a hobby that’s also sparked an interest for the local West Wallsend junior to start up his own clothing range business called, ‘What is Art’.

Pepper was holidaying throughout Europe in the off-season and was inspired by the big name designer shops in places like London, Sweden and Norway.

From funky t-shirts through to creatively designed hats, the emerging Jet found himself in designer brand heaven.

So he got proactive, jumped online, set up a business name and now he is selling clothing and apparel on his own website.

“I saw a lot of unique clothing stores in Europe and that-s where I got the idea to start doing my own designs and go from there,” he explains.

“So I just got on the computer and downloaded that Adobe software and just started drawing some stuff up.

“It was just something pretty random and I just thought I-d see how I go and it-s something to do in my spare time.

“Now I-m just selling clothes off the website at the moment and it-s going really good.

“I sell t-shirts, hats like snapbacks and beanies and hoodies. I haven-t done any pants yet, but maybe later.”

Pepper says his major selling point is the fact his clothing range is quite personalised.

So in many ways, the designs on his t-shirts are reflective of his own interests and passions.

“Most shirts out there are very similar, so I just wanted to create something that no one has,” he says.

“You know, a separate kind of brand that no one has, so I-m not just selling the same designs and there is a bit of variety there.

“And because I-m a Newcastle boy, the word has sort of got out and a lot of my friends have helped me out.

“Every week there are a more views and purchases online, which is the way that you want to go.”

Pepper now has his sights set on starting up his own store in Newcastle and building his brand beyond the website.

He believes the Hunter region is craving for a modern clothing store like those seen in Europe and he is the man to deliver the goods.

“Now that I-ve just signed at the Jets, I wouldn-t mind getting a store opened at some stage,” he says.

“That would be pretty cool.

“I-ll just see how it goes and if it keeps getting more potential, I-ll get a store and build from there.

“You look in Newcastle and you-ve only really got your chain stores and there are no unique stores like in Melbourne.

“It-s something that would be good for Newcastle as well.”

When it comes to gaining ideas on how to improve his work, Pepper says he doesn’t have to look far.

In fact, he only has to get on the phone to his grandmother to gain all the tips and advice he needs.

“My grandma paints anything really and she is very good,” he says.

“She does anything outdoors and scenery stuff as well, like the beach.

“I-ve got a couple of paintings at my place as well.

“So it runs in the family, because of my grandmother and my sister is also good at drawing as well.

“I guess a love for art has always been there, so I just haven-t decided I wanted to do something arty.”

Pepper’s immediate goal is to build his company in Newcastle, but he also hasn’t ruled out one-day expanding his brand overseas.

He knows a few locals who have taken their clothing business overseas and it’s something he’d also like to do at some stage.

“I know a few people in Newcastle who have done that,” he says.

“One of my mates is a street artist and does all the art work in the Newcastle Mall in Hunter St.

“He owns Nook store and I-ve had a chat to him. He goes down to Melbourne and does all the illustrations for the big companies and goes over to Europe.

“I-m pretty sure he has his own store in Europe as well, so it-s something to aspire to.”

In the meantime, Pepper is focused on continuing his good form with the Jets and helping the Club build on their impressive start to the season.

“It-s really good at the moment,” he says.

“We-ve been getting results, which is the best thing and everyone is happy and playing good.

“Hopefully we can keep on that roll and it-s good to be a part of a winning team.

“It feels real good to play for the Jets at the moment, especially with it being my hometown with all my family around.”

As Pepper can attest, it’s also a perfect setting to build your own clothing range empire too.

To view and purchase Pepper-s clothing range go to his website www.whatisart.bigcartel.com or go to his Instagram: @whatisartt