Blissful brushstrokes amid design deadlines: Jan Marvin is July's Honeycomb artist
You know Jan, right? Well, you're familiar with her work, that much is certain. I know this, because you are holding it in your hot little hands.
Jan Marvin is not only the literal first face, of The Daniel Island News, the smile with which you are greeted as you enter our office facing River Landing Drive, but she is also the figurative first face of every issue. Each time you are captivated by a cool front page photo paired with a clever cover graphic, we have Jan to thank for drawing you in. It was a jackpot moment the day she joined the newspaper team. But as we get to know her better, we find that her talent runs even deeper. She is sharp as a tack with text and cool as a cucumber under deadline pressure, to be sure. But what is becoming more conspicuous every day is her amazing artistic talent. It turns out her eye for digital design is rooted in her natural knack with other forms of visual art â€“ from painting to photography.
Jan Marvin grew up in Joliet, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. She married her childhood sweetheart, Rick, and the two found themselves somewhere along the southeastern coast nearly every time an opportunity for vacation arose. When Rick was offered a job in Madison, Georgia, the winter-worn couple jumped at the chance to move south. They were happy inland Georgians for nine years, but still felt a palpable draw to the ocean.
In 2007, the Marvins chose Mount Pleasant as their new home, won over by the climate, the culture and history and, of course, the beaches. The Marvins' two adult children, Lena and Nathan, also relocated to the Charleston area, making it feel that much more like home. Shortly after the move, Jan joined The Daniel Island News as the graphic design guru, but is today more formally known as the Creative Art Director/Website Content Editor/Classified Ad Director.
Jan has recently re-dedicated herself to painting and photography, and participated in the exceptionally well-received first annual Daniel Island Art Show earlier this year. For the entire month of July, her work will be on display at the Honeycomb Cafe in Daniel Island, and we picked her brain a bit as she was preparing for the show. Just when you think you know Jan, you find yourself stunned by the vibrant, endearing paintings and crisp, conveying photographs she produces away from her DI News desk. Don't feel bad; we sit right next to her, and she surprised us, too.
Jennifer Johnston: Can you please map out for us your artful history and early stops your career path?
Jan Marvin: I have degrees in Interior Design and Architectural Technology. I worked in Chicago as a draftsperson for Montgomery Ward corporate offices and designed floor plans and retail store signs. I became an A.S.I.D. Interior Designer and did commercial design for banks, offices, a hospital, a nursing home, a dormitory, and residential interiors. After doing that for 18 years, I bought graphic design software and taught myself the basic programs. Before long, I was doing graphic design projects for friends and worked part-time at an advertising agency. My children were still in school, so I decided to run my own graphic design business and work out of my home. It was the perfect solution at the time because I was able to attend school events and to be more hands-on as a parent.
JJ: How did you get into publishing, and when did you join The Daniel Island News?
JM: After moving to Georgia, I ran my own business, but later worked for two newspaper publishers. I helped launch The Oconee News in Watkinsville, Georgia with Rob Peecher, the publisher. I've been working at the Daniel Island News since 2008 and enjoy the creative freedom that the publisher, Suzanne Detar, allows me to have. I've also been a video producer and worked as a Production Tech at WCBD-TV2.
JJ: What is your earliest memory of picking up a paintbrush? Of looking through a lens?
JM: I loved art class in high school and my art teacher was very encouraging. I recently found my first acrylic painting of a young girl sitting in a field of flowers. I used bright paint colors even way back then. My dad and I were the photographers of our family. I started taking fine-art photographs while we were living in Georgia and continued when we moved here. I had painted off and on throughout the years, but the busy-ness of life had taken me away from painting for seven years. I finally picked up a paintbrush in February of this year and I have found that some of my most joyful and peaceful moments occur while I am painting.
JJ: If you believe art reflects the personality of the artist, do you also believe the work evolves in tandem with changes in the artist (life experiences, maturity, etc.)? If so, how has this notion applied to you?
JM: My art has coincided with my life in a big way, mostly through my faith in God, which is why my byline is 'The Art of Joy'. As I seek God and as my relationship with Him grows, the more joyful and peaceful I become. It has everything to do with getting through the stressful situations of life, having faith in God, being grateful and finding joy in small, ordinary everyday things. My art is somewhat whimsical and child-like. The swirling lines seem to dance on the canvas. It reminds me of the way the stars swirl around in the night sky in Vincent Van Gogh's painting, The Starry Night.
JJ: You do not shy away from bright colors in your palette; why is this one of your signature artistic elements?
JM: I usually put a dark color next to the bright color to make the light color pop out of the canvas. At this stage in my life, my goal is to leave the darkness behind and bring light into my life... to chase the clouds away. One of my favorite bible verses is God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 1 John 1:5.
JJ: What comes more naturally to you, painting or photography? Do you enjoy one medium over the other?
JM: While I enjoy photography, I am led to paint as often as I can. The cares of the world seem to melt away as I put on some music - Washed Out, ATB, The Alan Parsons Project, or Ambient Generation - and start painting.
JJ: You participated in the first annual Daniel Island Art Show. Was it as you expected? Will you show more frequently now?
JM: The Daniel Island Art Show was a great success. There is so much creative talent in this area. It was a pleasure to meet the other artists and clients. Hopefully, there will be many more shows to come in the future. I will be showing my work in August (we haven't set a date yet) at a trunk show along with Melissa Gray, a local jewelry designer. That's all I have planned for now. I need to paint more pieces so I can spread out my work in various locations!
JJ: Permission to brag a bit: please tell us about some of your more significant professional accolades.
JM: I was very excited when I became an A.S.I.D. Interior Designer. It was a challenge to pass the tests and it opened many doors for me. I've also won numerous awards as a graphic designer. But now, I am happy when my art helps to make the day a little brighter for others.
JJ: Where is your studio? Can you dish a little about your workspace, including other senses you involve with sounds, scents, other visuals and lighting?
JM: When we moved to Mount Pleasant, we down-sized, so I don't have a studio per se. I guess you could say that my studio is mobile. I keep my supplies in our utility room and when I'm ready to paint, I spread a sheet out on the floor in my living room and place my easel where the lighting is the best depending on the time of day. I also paint in our screened-in porch where I can hear the birds sing, watch the squirrels, and feel the soft breeze. Sometimes I continue painting as daylight turns to night, so I find myself painting along with the sounds of frogs and crickets.
JJ: How can folks purchase your art? Could people commission special-request pieces and/or photography sessions?
JM: Canvas, framed, acrylic and metal prints, greeting cards, cell phone covers, tote bags, purses, and cell phone purses may be purchased at janmarvin.com. Originals may be purchased at art exhibits or I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 706-818-2741. Although I have photographed models, fashion shows, and films in the past, I am presently focusing my photography on nature and landscapes.