We are over the moon for the March artist feature! Jen is a girl after my own heart with her love for colors and textiles. Bon & Venture is aptly named as you can see the clear Savannah inspiration in all of her work. Her vivid bright colors, combined with layered flora and fauna motifs in a mirrored composition are satisfying, joyful, and just plain amazing.
An interview with Jen Dunlap, owner of Bon & Venture.
Q: Where are you from and where did you go to school?
I grew up right here in Savannah! I graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design with a BFA in Painting and then went on to New York's School of Visual Arts to get my MFA in Fine Art. I don't know that I realized how really incredible and unique this town was until I left. I stayed in New York for years and did a brief stint in Berlin before I landed right back here where it all started! I'm now a Savannah super fan - this city is so special, not just the incredible architecture and nature and weather, but the people here are really something - I can't imagine living anywhere else!
Q: Where do you find your inspiration?
I don't have to look far for inspiration! The Lowcountry is full of the flowers, animals, critters and bugs that inspire my work, and I think Savannah especially has this intense beauty coupled with sort of a dark spookiness that I try to celebrate, pairing dogwoods with snakes and that sort of thing. I try to bring color and light and happiness to everything I create, something that I think is inspired by my obsession with the sea and time spent in the Caribbean and Central America. I want to infuse that vibrant and joyful way of living into my Savannah and the Lowcountry inspired motifs. And of course I'm inspired by the kind of person I think would like my work, someone that loves color and being in the sun! I want to make pieces that bring a little extra happiness to everyone that uses them!
Q: What are your favorite mediums?
To create my designs I pull from whatever medium I think would be best for the project in front of me - my current work with Bon & Venture is all done in pen and pencil to get those nice crisp lines and clear delineation of color for printing. My real true happy place however is oil on panel. When I'm not obsessively working up new designs for the brand nothing gives me more peace or makes me feel more myself than working on large scale, heavily layered oil paintings! Right now I'm working in watercolor for my Spring/Summer 21 mini collection for Bon & Venture because I feel like the softness of the medium is going to really accentuate the motifs for this collection - I've always found watercolor really frustrating, so I guess I like a challenge!
Q: When you're not doing artsy things, what can you be found doing?
I love being outside as much as possible, even better if it's by the ocean, but I'll take Forsyth Park any day over staying indoors! I love to travel outside of the country whenever I can, and mix it up between tropical, beachy vibes and more culturally immersive spots. I speak a little bit of a lot of languages and I'm always itching to add more! I've also recently gotten super into running, I think as a way to escape all of the claustrophobic feelings associated with the past year, and to find a measure of control in these times that feel so crazy. I decided to run a marathon by myself on my 35th birthday last month - and I totally did it! That kind of training, and then completing a run like that, which feels so impossible initially, really makes you feel like you can do anything!
Q: Who are some artists that influence you?
Oh this is so interesting! Most of my favorite artists' work couldn't be more different than mine! In my painting practice I'm heavily influenced by the techniques of the old masters with I hope a modern twist. I'm obsessed with the incredible style of Jenny Saville, but I also love Jenny Holzer so much. I love Tracey Emin, Sophie Calle, Louise Bourgeois and Lynda Benglis. None of them (except Jenny Saville) are really painters or even 2D artists, but I think I'm most influenced by their ability to create such powerful, emotional and strong work! And of course I'm endlessly inspired by the incredible makers in our community - I'm so fortunate to be surrounded by so many amazing, talented, passionate hustlers!
Q: What new project/series are you most excited about and why?
I am so pumped on my new Spring/Summer mini collection! I've got a few new scarves I'm working on, plus some super fun beachy coverups! This collection is going fully tropical and ocean inspired - jellyfish, egrets and iguanas with orchids, loquats, seaweed and more! It's all done in watercolor and I'm so close to finishing these paintings! Then it's on to the part that's super relaxing to me - laying out the designs! I'm hoping to drop sometime late April or early May so stay tuned y'all!
Owner | Designer
Bon & Venture
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