Creative Genius: Artist and Muralist, Jeremy Penn
Meet a talented artist who is using his art to deliver powerful messages in New York City and beyond.
“It is within art that you can discover so much about yourself,” wrote Jeremy Penn to me, as he explained how he likes to incorporate interactive objects, like mirrors, into his art. Full of color, intention, iconic pop art inspiration, and plenty of traces of female empowerment, you’re sure to find an original Penn that you want in your own home. Jeremy's one of the 10 Creative Geniuses we think are one-of-a-kind, but we wanted to get to know him a little better.
It’s not unlikely that you’ll find some of his pieces during your travels, either; his works have been picked up by international hotels, a number of galleries, and even retail storefronts. He describes his career as thrilling, filled with exciting sanctioned (and non-sanctioned) installations grounded by his cerebral approach to art, always working to demonstrate female empowerment, and oozing bold energy.
He isn’t about to give away any secrets about the non-commissioned projects he’s done during his career as a fine artist (and street artist, and muralist), but his works have helped him achieve special honors from museum curators and at galleries including The Museum of Modern Art and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. We think you’ll like him, so let’s go all the way back to the beginning. Enjoy the interview below, and also check out his website at jeremypenn.com.
How does someone decide to become an artist? Did you always know that art would be a significant part of your life?
I spent most of my childhood being raised on the south shore of Long Island. I never looked at being an artist as something you do but rather an inherent calling. Yes, I was a good artist as a kid but I was a total rebel. I still am. I never drew within the lines or followed the rules of a project. Art was my freedom and in that freedom, there were no rules.
The influence of NYC must have been fierce. What was it like when you were growing up?
There aren't many places in NYC that truly emulate the feeling of Soho in the 80s. It was the epitome of grit and glam. You were able to feel the energy of change in the streets. One memory I have was seeing the eye-catching poster for a Warhol & Basquiat exhibition on Mercer Street. There was something ephemeral yet captivating about this poster.
Your installations can be found across the country (and in galleries internationally, too) but which projects are you most fond of?
I really love the installation at New York City restaurant The Clancey (check out the restaurant's gallery for more angles of Jeremy's installation). It essentially defines the space and you're dining within one of my paintings. The owners recently asked me to come in and add my own personal touch to the wall. I did that and then some. I felt like I was in a playground and just began painting the entire bathroom in addition to the wall.
The Goddess Wall (located in NYC on Mott Street between Bleeker and Houston) was also an amazing experience. That experience definitely had its share of drama. Even though we were fully sanctioned to do the wall and had 99% of the neighbors cheering us on, we were threatened, ticketed and fined because of one of the neighbors complaining. What we were creating was both aesthetically and spiritually beautiful. In the end, we succeeded and the result was magical.
I loved that mural too; I hope readers go find it, because I heard it's beginning to show through the art installed over the top of it.
What other meaningful installations have you worked to accomplish?
Perhaps the most meaningful of all the installations I have done was the work I did with Lululemon for their United State project. It was something that I really connected to during a pivotal moment in my life. The work I created was printed and displayed in majority of the Lululemon stores in NYC. I am really proud of that project.
Please allow me to intrude on your personal space. Is your home and personal style influenced by your art?
I really keep the world's separate. My style can be summed up in one word "simplicity". I'm a white t-shirt and blue jeans kind-of-guy. People may be surprised to know that I don't have any of my own art in my home. Home is very much my way of shifting the metaphoric ph balance towards neutral.
My studio is a crazy place. Those who have been inside, understand. That's not to say that I don't have art in my home. Over the years, I have bartered art with fellow artists whom I believe in resulting in a pretty rad art collection.
I don’t actually think that’s surprising to keep your home/work life separate in that way – it must be relatively refreshing to leave the studio, and be surrounded by other inspirations in your home life.
Where can readers go to see your work in person?
Right now, I have an ongoing installation throughout the summer in the Hamptons with Lululemon and SoulCycle. I've been working with Lululemon for over a year now and have found a special symbiotic relationship between my newer art and the brand's core values.
I did a mural many years back with my good friend and fellow artist Borbay. It is still in pristine condition and can be seen on the outside of Jake's Saloon on 57th street and 10th avenue (in Manhattan).
I have a lot of art in hotel lobbies around the world. Most of which, I don't even know.
I’ll be on the lookout; I know it’s virtually impossible to track where your work ends up once it’s purchased. Do you have any shows in the next few months?
I have an upcoming solo show in Toronto in September and two museum shows in the fall. It's going to be a busy summer.
Hope you enjoyed this introduction to Jeremy Penn. To see more of his work, visit his website jeremypenn.com.