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Featured Artist: Justine Beech

Meet featured artist, Justine Beech!

Beech's artwork will be on display at the following Kerbey Lane locations:

  • Now through July 4 at Southwest (4301 W. William Cannon Dr.)
  • July 5-September 4 at Westlake (701 S. Capital of Texas Hwy)
  • September 5-November 5 at South (3003 S. Lamar Blvd.)

An East Coast native, Beech grew up in Long Island, NY, and Glastonbury, CT. She attended art school at the well-known Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY, where she obtained her BFA in Illustration and Communications Design. After graduating in 2003, Beech found work as a mural artist before she began a career in merchandising, working for retailers Urban Outfitters, J. Crew, and later, Patagonia.

Beech moved to Austin with her husband in 2007. She was drawn to the pop-culture-rich city because of iconic films like Slacker and Dazed and Confused. Her print titled "Top Notch", currently on display at Kerbey Lane, perfectly encapsulates the essence of Dazed and Confused, which was filmed in Austin and stars native Texan, Matthew McConaughey. When it comes to depicting film in her work, Beech's focus is on the challenge of taking a whole movie and capturing the gist of it in one image.

Upon moving to Austin, Beech initially decided against working in merchandising. Instead, she began teaching art classes to children at SAFE, a nonprofit organization that provides support for individuals and families affected by domestic violence, sexual assault, and exploitation. In addition to volunteering, Beech picked up part-time work at a hair salon and continued nurturing her craft as an artist at Pump Project Art Studio.

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In 2008, Beech returned to merchandising when she was offered a job at Patagonia. The job provided stability while still allowing for creativity, as well as the chance to work with a company involved in environmental activism, a cause that Beech is passionate about.

During her eight years at Patagonia, Beech had two children and launched an Etsy store. In the last couple years of her tenure, she found herself waking up at 4:30 a.m. to make art before tending to her children and a putting in full day's work. Eventually, Beech came to the conclusion that she no longer had time for a job–her priorities had shifted to include two things: her children and her art. A year-and-a-half ago she made the transition from employee to full-time freelance artist.

Beech has many interests that inspire her art, the most prominent being pop culture. Music and film are what inspires her most, and it would appear that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Both of Beech's parents worked with film as photographers, and her mother is a musician who performs regularly at various venues around town.

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Beech has paid homage to her love of music in an illustration series that features different genres from soul to hardcore. Another series is in progress that highlights the Riot Grrrl movement–an underground feminist punk movement that originated in the early 1990s in Olympia, Washington.

Based on what we know about Beech up to this point, it seems only fitting that she chose to name her daughter Ione, after Ione Skye of the cult film classic Say Anything, and her son Milo, after Milo Aukerman of the punk rock band the Descendents.

The subjects and mediums of Beech's artwork are almost as varied as her interests. Her work includes graphic portraits, children's books, editorial, poster, and album art and landscape paintings. For the past five years, she has sold custom family portraits and announcements on her Etsy store, and this led her to pursue live event portrait drawings at weddings and other events.

In addition to being a pop culture junkie and environmental activist, Beech is also an advocate for women's rights. She hopes to finish her first comic book at some point this year, which will feature a female as the main character. She told us, "I became a full-time artist because there aren’t a lot of female comic book illustrators and I want to prove to my daughter that you can be and do whatever you want."

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Fans of Beech's illustrations can pick up her 44-page colorable zine, Video and Chill Zine, at Tribe Comics, End of an Ear, and Austin Books & Comics while waiting for her comic book to be released.

There is no doubt that Beech is an artist on the rise. Her work has been featured in the East Austin Studio Tour (EAST) at Cement Loop and at Little Pink Monster Gallery. Be on the lookout for her solo art show, which she anticipates taking place sometime this year.

When Beech isn't busy being an artist and activist, she enjoys visiting the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center with her children, dining at award-winning restaurants around the country with her chef husband, and drinking craft beers with her friends.

You can see more of Beech's artwork on her website: thedenarchive.com, at her Etsy store, and on Instagram. All illustrations displayed at Kerbey Lane Cafe are for sale. Questions for Justine? Send her an email.

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