Two years ago I stumbled upon TikTok's resin art trend. Now I'm selling my pieces and exhibiting in galleries.
- Jessie Hutter discovered TikTok resin art after leaving London during the first COVID-19 lockdown.
- It inspired her to get back to her creative roots, and has become a lucrative side hustle.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Stephanie Conway, and it has been edited for length and clarity.
During the COVID-19 lockdowns, TikTok became a beacon of hope for creativity and community to me.
I had been living in London working as a producer at an advertising agency for five years, and my life was so full-on that I didn't have the time or brainpower to do anything creative outside of work. So in 2020, after accepting a remote job offer, I moved to rural North Devon for a better work-life balance. It was then that I found myself scrolling through TikTok.
In October 2020, alongside sea shanties and dance challenges, I spotted a video of someone making resin art and it stopped me in my tracks.
Resin art videos have become a huge trend on TikTok. They show people combining liquid epoxy resin with color pigments to produce unique patterns and textures, which when dried, form a durable plastic.
The finished pieces reminded me of the colors that I had seen on my travels at seascapes around the world. I was in awe of the videos of people pouring and mixing colors together — I began consuming so much resin art content that I'd often lay in bed thinking about it at night.
Less than a month later I ordered a beginner's resin kit to get started. I never imagined it would turn into a lucrative side hustle.
Creating resin art was harder than it looked on TikTok
Growing up, my artist grandmother taught me to paint, and I've always enjoyed getting creative and making things with my hands. The resin art videos on TikTok inspired me to rekindle the childhood creativity that I had lost while working in London.
But it's more complicated than it looks.
Resin is a heavy liquid that when applied can't be completely controlled. The colors can easily flow into one another and combine, so the final product can sometimes end up looking different to how you had planned. Unlike painting a picture, you have to relinquish control over resin.
Resin also needs to be applied to durable, flat surfaces to prevent sagging, bending, and accidental movement. I learned this during my first attempt when I accidentally worked from a lopsided table. This left my canvas board at too much of an angle, so my design quickly slid into a puddle on the floor.
It was in those tougher moments that I remembered my artist grandmother, and our cherished moments spent painting together. Resin art was a way for me to honor her. I persevered for the need to reignite my creativity.
My new hobby became more expensive than I'd imagined
On average, epoxy resin costs 50 cents per ounce. Initially, this doesn't sound like a lot, but most resin art pieces require a large amount of resin. I generally use one mixed gallon (consisting of half-resin and half-hardener), to cover 12 square feet at a thickness of an eighth of an inch.
Environmental concerns further drove up the price. I am passionate about the reduction of single-use plastic, so I use the highest-grade non-toxic resin. There's also the need for safety equipment to protect you from toxins, including protective clothing, a respirator mask, and nitrile gloves, as well as additional tools needed to form and shape the resin, including molds, color pigments, and decorations.
As I continued to develop my craft and spend more money, I quickly realized that I couldn't afford to sustain my new hobby.
Since I began selling my art, it's evolved into a huge part of my life
After I first posted a picture of my work on Instagram in November 2020, friends began commissioning me for resin art. I started making my first batch to be sold to the public and developed a resin art Instagram and website.
After uploading the first batch, I quickly sold out. Then the same happened with the second batch — and the third. Within a year, I had made over $2,600 in website sales. By November 2021, I even had my first pop-up display at a local cafe in Devon, all while working a full-time job.
In December 2021, my resin art Instagram account received a direct message from a gallery curator with an invitation to show my work at an abstract art exhibition. I instinctively wanted to turn the offer down, thinking that I wasn't good enough. But after some encouragement from friends, I resisted imposter syndrome, and took the opportunity.
Now, because of a creative side-hustle that I discovered on TikTok, people will be able to view my work at The Brick Lane Gallery in London, and I have no plans to stop creating resin art.
As long as there are people who'd like to buy my work, I'd like to make it. I pour colors from memories of beautiful places into my art, and I hope my grandmother would be proud that I chose a life filled with more creativity.
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