Justin Bunting is a 22 year old artist from Northern Ireland who is currently living and working out of Chester, England. He is a self-taught abstract painter with a focus on bold, colorful figures. His recent focus has been painting his abstract characters on the backs of a variety of jackets. He tells us that painting on jackets has enabled him to sell his work in new ways and generate additional income. Bunting recently had his first solo show “HAVE YOU SEEN THIS MAN” which was a big personal accomplishment for the artist. Learn more about Bunting by reading our interview with him below.
A large focus of yours is creating custom, hand-painted jackets. At what point of your art career did you take this route?
I started with jackets around my second year of university in 2016. I had seen other artists on Instagram and Reddit doing that kind of work and wanted to give it a go. Plus, there’s a vintage shop close enough to me that always has the nice fitting ones in, so it made sense to try [that style]. I feel like people gravitate to the jackets more because you can physically wear them out in the world as a one-off fashion piece.
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Would you say that you prefer to paint on jackets? I’m sure it’s more challenging than a smooth canvas.
Honestly, I don’t know – I feel like canvas is more challenging content-wise. I feel like when I’m painting on a canvas it has to, or at least often does, have more meaning. I see jackets as more of a streetwear thing; something fun. That’s not to say I don’t put any thought into them, just that the medium lends itself to trying some more fun, less serious stuff – if any of that makes sense. I’m hiding in my work’s [bathroom] to type this shit so it might be typed in a rush [laughs]. As for the physical side, canvas is definitely easier to work with!
[Laughs.] Yeah, I understand what you’re saying. Speaking of work, do you see yourself making enough money off of your custom jackets to quit your job anytime soon? I’m assuming that’s your goal?
Not anytime soon unfortunately – I’d need to sell about ten jackets a month to be able to live off of it. That would be a beautiful stress. To wake up in the morning knowing that I have orders from all over the world to create for people and that being my job. I need to build my social media a bit more, expand, and get my name out there – both locally and worldwide. Hopefully I’ll find representation somewhere. But yeah, it’s one hundred percent my goal to do this for a living. The struggle is the best part. You never know where you’ll be next year if you just keep working at it.
Do you have plans to take things further in any way? Do you have any other projects in mind or big goals?
I have to be more active, enter competitions and contests. At the very least, you get to meet other people in person who are doing similar things! I would like to get another show going somewhere like Liverpool, but I gotta focus on getting my money in order first [laughs]. I’m also working on my first single cover commission for a local musician, which is exciting and should be on my Instagram soon.
What would you say has been the most rewarding part of your art career so far?
It would have to be my first solo show ‘HAVE YOU SEEN THIS MAN’ [which took place] last summer. I managed to get my mother over from Ireland for it, and my dad go to see it on the final day which meant a lot. Besides that, every time someone messages me to say that their painting or jacket arrived and that they love, it makes my day.
Besides being able to make a living off of your work, do you have one ultimate goal that you hope to achieve in your lifetime?
Ideally, [I want to] be able to help my family out for whatever they might need. Get my mum a nice house to retire at. My own studio space stoked with canvas, brushes, and paint is all I would need. And a high-end London apartment. Basic shit, really [laughs].