Jill Thayer was born and raised in Sacramento, California and moved to Bakersfield in 1969 when her father, William G. Thayer was transferred as a civil engineer with the California Aqueduct. After earning an A.A. degree in Studio Art and Graphic Design from Bakersfield College, and a B.A. in Fine Arts and Marketing from California State University, Bakersfield, she studied Romanesque and Gothic Art and Architecture, Art History of the Renaissance, 17th Century Lithography on Bavarian limestone, and 13th Century Illuminated Choir Pages of San Marcos Monastery at Santa Reparata Grafic Arte Centre (Santa Reparata International School of Art), Drake University European Campus in Florence, Italy in 1978.
Thayer was principal of Jill Thayer Associates (1979-2007), a design and marketing firm that produced award winning corporate identity in print and web for regional and global companies, receiving 30+ ADDY Awards from American Advertising Federation. Credits include: Disney, NBC, Nestle Dairies/Carnation, Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company, Buck Owens Production Company/KUZZ, Anthony Vineyards, Alliance International, and Tejon Ranch. As a gallerist, she represented international contemporary artists at Jill Thayer Galleries at the Fox receiving critical review (1994-2009).
In 2004, Thayer earned an M.A. degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with emphases in Contemporary Art and Gallery Practicum with M.B.A. studies in Marketing and Arts Management from California State University, Bakersfield; and was accepted with a partial tuition fellowship to the doctoral program at Claremont Graduate University in Cultural Studies/Museum Studies. In 2005, she was accepted to the two-year MFA Visual Arts program at CGU Art, as she pursued studio painting, digital media, installation, and gallery practicum concurrent to her doctoral work in critical theory and practice, a first for a doctoral scholar at the university.
In 2011, Thayer received a Ph.D. in Cultural Studies/Museum Studies with emphases in Contemporary Art History, Exhibition Theory, Design Theory, and Visual Culture from Claremont Graduate University with transdisciplinary doctoral study in Global Strategy and Trade at St. Peter’s College, University of Oxford, UK through Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management. During this study, she presented a paper on the global art market entitled, “The Effects of European Union Expansion on Creation, Commerce, and Culture.” Her CGU doctoral dissertation, “Artist Emergence in Contemporary Culture: A Dialectic in Social and Material Conditions of Southern California Artists,” 2011, (Proquest/UMI) included interviews and analysis of the art market and its contributors.
In 2012, Thayer was awarded a post-doctoral research fellowship by Claremont Graduate University School of Arts and Humanities to compile and produce a documentary series of CGU professors, professors emeritus, and alumni entitled, “In Their Own Words: Oral Histories of CGU Art.” The project was showcased in the CGU Art Peggy Phelps Gallery and East Gallery in an interactive exhibition designed and curated by Thayer. The project featured interviews and profiles of artists Karl Benjamin, Roland Reiss, Michael Brewster, Connie Zehr, Mowry Baden, Ted Kerzie, and John Frame.
The narrative transcripts and digital media of the oral history series are included in Archives of American Art at The Smithsonian Institution.
Thayer is a contributing writer for contemporary art publications. Her interviews, reviews, catalogue and monograph essays, and oral histories feature international artists and contributors to the cultural discourse. http://www.jillthayer.com/writer/. She is represented by Thomas Jesse Goff, literary agent, Los Angeles.
Early in her career, Thayer lectured design seminars in a Certificate of Visual Communication program offered through universities nationally sponsored by University Television Network/We Educations Programs (Eric Teitelbaum, coordinator). Venues included: University of Colorado, Boulder; State University of New York, Albany; University of Miami; California State University, Northridge; California Polytechnic University, Pomona; California State University, La Jolla; and California State University, San Marcos. In 2016, Thayer was guest lecturer on “Digital Media in Contemporary Culture” for California State University, Los Angeles, Department of Arts and Letters in Bill Teitelbaum’s television and film class. She is keynote speaker for museums and historical societies on topics including: “Global Visual Culture: Contemporary Art and the Environment,” “Curatorial Practice: Connecting Historical Narratives Today,” “Marketing for the Arts: strategic planning for non-profit/cultural institutions and emerging artists,” and “Multidisciplinary Influences of Career Success.”
Thayer is a lecturer for academic and cultural institutions developing community awareness and education in the Arts. She is Associate Professor offering onsite and online curricula nationally including: Global Visual Culture at Santa Monica College; Art History at Allan Hancock College and South University; Perspectives in Humanities at Southern New Hampshire University; Marketing Management at Post University Malcolm Baldrige School of Business; and Marketing and Interactive Strategies at National University School of Business and Management, La Jolla. Thayer is certified in Canvas, Blackboard, and eCollege Learning Management Systems and has mentored hundreds of artists and industry professionals throughout her multi-faceted career.
Dr. Thayer is Curator at Estrella Warbirds Museum, Paso Robles working towards accreditation. She continues her work as an artist, writer, educator, and independent curator, and is host of “The Art of Life,” a weekly podcast produced for Voice of Paso Internet radio. The program features a look at art, culture, and life on the Central Coast.