Justin Pierce downplays his humble beginnings, but it is a part of his art. Born in Chicago, he moved to California when his parents split up. He found himself on his own at age 16, and the teen made his way to Arizona in 2006.
“I don’t want to dwell on that I was homeless,” he explains. “I do have a story where everything started from nothing. But…” He trails off, refocusing on the art that defines him today. “I wake up daily and paint designs on shoes, on clothing, murals, you name it.”
Today, living in the East Valley, J. Pierce the artist defines his life through his signature bold and colorful artwork.
The Artistic Beginnings
At age 16 and in foster care, Pierce needed an outlet.
“I started creating art and painting on clothing,” he explains. The self-taught artist was skateboarding every day at the time. “A lot of my art was inspired by hanging out with my friends and at skate shops.”
Pierce says this gave him a sense of the different types of art that’s on skateboard brands, along with the type of clothing designs that were popular in the skateboard world at the time. He became friends with Jonas Bevacqua, the now-deceased founder of streetwear brand LRG.
“He was a big inspiration for me,” says Pierce. “Seeing how he had grown and started his own clothing brand, it inspired me that I could start my own company and my own brand. I could see that it was possible to take your designs and your art and be big.”
That skateboarding beginning remains a part of Pierce’s work today, and he always focuses on being positive.
“My work is positive and colorful because I don’t do anything negative. I like spreading positivity. Colors make people happy.”
Early in his career, Pierce discovered that trade shows were a great way to make connections. One of those was MAGIC, the premier fashion trade show held in Las Vegas.
“I started live painting for MAGIC. I would live paint for three days. All of the fashion brands were there.”
That gave him exposure to art collectors, business owners, and brands. It was the launching place for what is now a successful career. “It led me to licensing out my designs and my art to companies that needed art for their products—or just anybody who was looking for art for their home or business.”
J. Pierce the Artist
Art is Pierce’s life. He has been fortunate enough to work with companies around the world. He traveled all over China after licensing his artwork to a shoe company.
“I started working with them and traveling all over China doing art. I was doing live appearance at all the big cities.”
That led to more recognition and he worked with such a variety of companies as Phat Scooters, Kenneth Cole, the Arizona Coyotes, clothing brand State Forty Eight, and more. One of his most exciting collaborations was with actor Samuel L. Jackson.
Pierce created a custom tTshirt design for Jackson, who then wore it on an episode of ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! at the beginning of the pandemic. When Kimmel asked Jackson about the T-shirt, Jackson gave a shout-out to Pierce. That led to some big collaborations, from custom designs to art on canvas to murals.
“I just got done doing a big painting for rapper Rick Ross,” says Pierce. “He started following me [on Instagram] and called me. We talked and I was able to do a painting for his new house in Miami.”
Today, he defines his work as “everything outside the box.” Every piece of art is unique. With the skateboarding and urban background, along with inspiration from such greats as Warhol, Seuss, and Picasso, Pierce loves experimenting with color and design.
Art Brings Happiness
Pierce says his work took an upswing during the pandemic.
“I was painting a lot during the whole quarantine,” he explains. “I’ve been getting hit up with a lot of people who are in quarantine and who are stuck at home and want something to make them happy.”
Pierce says he has had veterans tell him that his art helps with PTSD.
“When you have someone tell you, ‘Just by looking at your patterns, it helps me cope with my PTSD. If I’m having a bad day, man, I look at your work and it makes me happy.’ Hearing that,” he pauses with emotion, “that’s just priceless.”
J. Pierce designs appear on a variety of mediums, from Apple watch bands to custom shoes, T-shirts to skateboards, and motorcycles to canoes. He creates custom logos. He wraps cars. He even collaborated with Phat Scooters, creating a custom-wrapped scooter—and an original 24x24 canvas for every new scooter owner. But his personal favorite is canvas because it gives him so much space with which to work.
“Creating art on canvas is my favorite medium,” he explains. “After painting, there’s a process. I sign it, and then wrap it up, and then it’s on to the next idea. That is really satisfying.”
Most of all, J. Pierce wants to share happiness through art.
“My work is all positivity. Nothing negative. My work is only here to make people happy. If I can change somebody’s day and attitude when they look at my work, that’s happiness.”
Where to Find J. Pierce Designs
You can find J. Pierce designs on a number of products. You can also contact the artist to commission artwork, from a canvas or mural to customizing clothing or designing a logo.
- Website: ArtByJPierce.com
- Instagram: @iamjpierce
- Twitter: @iamjpierce