Several times a week, in the wee hours of the morning, Jason McCann heads into his home art studio—a spare room with covered floors and cardboard-lined walls—to fling bright colors at a canvas. “If I’m in the flow, I’ll just go in there and paint,” he says. In 2022 alone, the co-founder and CEO of Coppell-based office furniture company Vari and its real estate sister group VariSpace produced more than 70 abstract paintings.
A self-taught artist, he began experimenting with painting in the ’90s, producing graffiti-style art inspired by the reggae-style restaurant and nightclub he owned. “I was terrible, but I liked it,” he recalls. McCann left the hobby for a while, then dabbled again roughly 10 years ago, but the passion really took hold during the pandemic. “The release and the energy I felt—it started to feel really good,” he says. “I just kept doing it.”
His Pollock-esque paintings, both colorful and muted, embody the energy he feels. “Art is just one piece of me now that’s coming out,” he says. McCann is known for his Steve Jobs-like approach to wardrobe, a technique to reduce the number of decisions in a day, but in his art studio, his vibrancy reveals itself. “It’s a little shocking because I wear black all day and I’m pretty simple,” he says. “But this allows me to be probably how I really am.”
Once he had filled up his own walls, McCann began suggesting that friends pick up a painting to donate to nonprofits such as Metrocrest Services. Then, the nonprofits started coming directly to him. He has been asked to paint pieces for his alma matter, the University of Houston, as well as TCU, and is now working on a canvas for Make-A-Wish Foundation. “I don’t think my stuff’s worthy, but people like it,” he says. A recent auction of a McCann original raised $2,800 for Coppell Arts Center.
He finds the creation process for both art and business to be similar. “As an entrepreneur, you are an artist,” McCann says. “You have to have that creative sense about you because you are constantly innovating and exploring.” Art has helped him feel comfortable experimenting as a leader, too. “I look at it as a space to try things, and that’s how businesses is, and that’s how we operate as a culture,” he says. Both in painting and in business, you must be prepared to take risks, fail, change, learn, and create, he adds. “You’re doing this because you’re trying to make a positive impact,” McCann says. “Some people may or may not resonate with it, and that’s OK.”