Artist Jeremy Penn was born in 1979 in New York City and studied Fine Art at both the University of Maryland and Pratt Institute. His works have been exhibited internationally and received honors from curators at museums such as The Museum of Modern Art, New York and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. In 2009, Penn was honored as the “Featured Artist” for New York City’s Freedom Week.
In 2010, Penn’s art was awarded ASFD’s Pinnacle Award, ADEX Gold Medal in Design, and the Peace Maker Award for his painting “War Child.” In 2011, Penn was the artist selected to represent the United States during Rosafest, a global art exhibition celebrating the Pan-American Games. He currently lives in and works out of Brooklyn.
Penn’s work explores the initial feelings of a single gaze and the deconstruction of that moment in time. With a heavy emphasis on his subject’s eyes, he creates a seductive power play between the viewer and the art. From the Whynot cafe on Orchard Street where Penn’s art is featured, he opens up about his art and how to take risks in life.
Where are you from?
I’m from here. I was raised in Bellmore near Jones Beach on the South Shore of Long Island.
How did you get involved in art?
I studied when I was young and I’ve always loved art. I went to the University of Maryland, and Pratt Institute where they prepared me for the art world. It can be a crazy scene -- unregulated madness.
Can you explain encaustic painting?
It’s the way I paint, and it’s a primitive form of hot wax painting: beeswax with colored pigments. It takes three seconds for the wax to dry, so it’s like improv. You have three seconds to decide. It’s one of the most difficult mediums and it’s having a revival, there are even organizations based around it.
What kind of art do you like?
I love the ’50s and ’60s. I’m inspired by Serge Gainsbourg and my favorite is to paint Brigitte Bardot, for I love how she broke down barriers and has a lot of confidence. She changed the American perception of beauty and brought men to their knees.
What is it about her that you like?
Eye contact is a recurring theme. It has a lot to do with being submissive and being dominant. Its powerful when Bowie, Kate Moss, or Brigitte look you in the eye. I love bringing people to life.
What is your street style?
A White Hanes T-shirt and Diesel jeans.
Which artists do you admire?
I love Chuck Close and post-modernist artists like Jackson Pollack.
Do you have any advice for our readers?
A Take as many risks as possible. Those who have success have an element of creativity. Don’t be afraid to ‘think different,’ like [the] Apple tag line.