Like many of us, Jacob LeBlanc began a new hobby in the pandemic—a Shopify employee by day, LeBlanc learned how to make rugs in his spare time. In Dec. 2020, he turned this leisurely craft into a side hustle of his own in hopes of sharing his art with the world and collaborating with other artists. He calls it The Reverie Collective.
“I started making rugs because I wanted to inspire myself creatively and I felt like I needed my own unique outlet for that,” LeBlanc said. “I have a lot of fun with it and sometimes it can take hours, which is nice for me because I enjoy dedicating time to diving into a creative mindset, getting lost in it, and learning new things as I go.”
While the medium is not extremely accessible because the materials and tools can be expensive, LeBlanc is excited to continue investing in his work overtime. He has also found some less expensive options such as using burlap rather than monk’s cloth for certain pieces. With an art like this, you can make long-term investments such as a tuft gun or buying supplies in bulk that will last a long time.
The first rug LeBlanc finished was inspired by a Swedish artist’s interpretation of a poster for one of his favourite movies, Honey Boy. After recreating that poster in rug form—putting his own, personal touches on it—LeBlanc considered whether he would stick to that theme with future projects. He has always taken a lot of inspiration from movies and thought it would be an interesting fit. Though in the end, he didn’t want to limit himself.
“I was really organically drawn to this craft and I think that’s part of why it makes me so happy. It really helped satisfy my craving to own my creativity,” LeBlanc said. “I’ve always been really interested in graphic design and digital art, but when rug tufting came along, I found it was the perfect balance between the digital side and doing something more physical and hands on.”
“My plan is to have a bit of both – I want to establish a recognizable style and vibe that is my own, but I also want to work with custom designs and be ready to try new things,” he said.
LeBlanc’s artistic style is still evolving and will continue to change, as he believes that is what it means to be creative. One of his favourite aspects of having a creative outlet like this is that he has begun to look at things differently and finds himself taking in new inspiration each day, researching and saving ideas that spark his interest.
“Right now, I’m super inspired by the 90’s and of course movie posters. But what I really like about the medium I’ve chosen is that there is so much variation in it—different shapes and textures, different depths, styles, materials you can use. You can experiment with the way the yarn cuts…there are just so many little details that I’ve become more aware of since committing to this niche,” LeBlanc said.
Since that first piece, LeBlanc has created rugs showcasing various logos, patterns and music albums. He only recently began selling them but is excited to take on more commissioned work. Going forward, LeBlanc hopes to collaborate with graphic designers and digital creators to bring their artwork to life through rug tufting.
“That’s why I chose to include the world ‘collective’ in the name of my business. I really want it to be a collaborative space that allows me to work with and become inspired by anyone and everyone who wants to make something cool. The Reverie Collective is as much for me as it is for others that just want to create,” he said.
“I really like how [reverie] relates to being fully open to your creativity and kind of living in that headspace.”
LeBlanc shared advice to others looking to develop their own side hustle, saying that you will know when you need more creativity in your life. He also emphasized that you have to start somewhere and most importantly, have fun with it.
“I never want [rug making] to stop being fun for me. Days are short, you know? There are so many other things I find fun that I would be doing instead if I didn’t genuinely enjoy making rugs. That’s what matters,” he said.
LeBlanc’s creations are available on Etsy and he will create a personal website soon.
Jenna is an artist, freelance writer and programming coordinator working in KW’s tech industry. When she’s not working, you can find Jenna singing around town, picking through the poetry section of used book stores or soaking up the sun whenever she has the chance.