Making money from designer walls

A hidden drive and a love of patterns and colour led Adam Jones to found his business Quercus & Co, a specialist design and printing business that boasts high-end customers worldwide.

Professionally, small business owner Adam Jones says he has never been happier or more fulfilled.

Five years ago he took the plunge and started his design company, Quercus & Co, that runs out of a shared creative space in Sydney's St Peters.

His wallpaper and prints are featured in homes and hotels across the world, from New York to Dubai, a product Mr Jones describes more like 'art-paper' for walls rather than traditional wallpaper.

"I have always had this hidden drive inside of myself to do my own thing and as you get older it gets more and more intense," Mr Jones told SBS.

"Suddenly, I jumped off the cliff and I went out and hired a digital printer."

It didn't take long for the creative to realise he needed to design, and fast.

A $120,000 target in his first year, was a daunting prospect.

"I thought, how on earth am I going to do that?" Mr Jones said.

"You paddle really fast - you have to learn."


A graduate of Textile Art at Goldsmiths College in London, Mr Jones says he was "lucky" to produce designs that people have loved and that have gained traction.

The designs are created by hand and then printed using digital techniques, which includes ink on paper or fabric offering a wide scope for multiple colours, detail and complexity.

His main audience is in the United States with Mr Jones using social media platforms like Instagram to reach his customers.

"I've found because I have quite a niche product I have to spread the word far and wide to find out who loves it," Mr Jones said.

No two prints are the same, with imperfection, scratch marks and pencil tracings a key element of Mr Jones' work.

"I think people respond to imperfection because it allows them in," Mr Jones said.

"It almost looks as though they could do it themselves."

Mr Jones already had experience to draw on in both the art industry and the small business world, having worked for over 10 years as a colourist and consultant, a decorative painter and most recently as a co-founder and co-director of landscape design company, Spirit Level.

Like any small business, cash flow has been a constant concern to the creative designer, who soon realised he'd need to broaden his product range in order to meet budget constraints.

Quercus & Co now sells oversized postage stamps, large world maps and star sign prints.

Mr Jones' removable wallpaper tiles have also proved popular as the number of people renting properties, and not wanting to cause permanent damage to their walls, increases.

"The wallpaper tiles are just a simple decorative's a novel and simple idea to decorate your wall," Mr Jones said.

Mr Jones told SBS that he's had to pace his workload and buyer demand, by carefully considering orders and ensuring he can afford to send samples of his designs across the world.

"The advice I have for anyone starting out a business is to take a deep breath," Mr Jones said.

"Every problem will be thrown at you and what you do creatively will only be a small part of what you do on a daily basis."

Despite his hard work and early success, what's proved most surprising to the design entrepreneur is that he's actually been able to make his business happen.

"For all those years there was this brewing insecurity," Mr Jones muses.

"I've managed to make it happened and I feel really empowered by that and determined to see it right through."