Day Dreamer

Artist Feature: Simple Compositions Creates Art from Wood and Sharpie

Artist Justin Haggery, (AKA Simple Compositions) is one of Austin’s favorite live painters and has been a pinnacle figure in moving the Austin art scene forward. Now residing in Asheville, He shares his journey from being a digital artist to finding a new outlet with basic materials like wood, paint, and sharpie. Haggerty coins his signature sharpie art style with house paint and wood planks from Lowe’s making his elegant art style seem all the more attainable. Haggerty also discusses his love for live painting and creating on the spot for an audience. Read the full interview below.

Justin Haggerty Simple Compositions

Tell us, How did you get started? 

Before I moved to Austin, all of my artwork was being done using digital tools like illustrator and photoshop. And frankly, it wasn’t going anywhere other than some uneventful posts to Instagram. I had not yet even started to paint or create very much of anything that was physical and tangible. When I got to Austin, and introduced myself into the local art scene, I immediately felt a drive to start transitioning my digital ideas to a painting output.

rhino in front of mountains

What is(are) your medium(s)?

As a surface, I am either using (mostly) birchwood from Lowes, or gallery-wrapped canvas from Jerry’s or any local art store. 

In terms of my tools, once again I tap into the home improvement stores for house paint. It’s incredible how many different color options you can choose from, as well as different choices for the sheen of the paint. For my linework, I am using sharpie oil paint markers. From my experience, they provide the deepest black that you can find in markers. 

purple eagle sharpie art

Where do you draw inspiration?

If I see an interesting photo online, or I may take a picture of something I see in my daily life, and then I simply take that photo and make it into a newly interpreted design idea. I am almost exclusively work on the following subject matter: people, plants, animals. 

jimi hendrix sharpie art

Can you describe a bit about your creative process?

Unfortunately, I don’t know how to describe it. Patterns for hair, linework in flowers or faces, cosmic elements being introduced – its not something that I can articulate well. It just sort of happens. But my creative process is certainly built on this foundation – (1) be different (2) have a signature style (3) there are no rules (4) Try not to do the same thing all the time.

native girl sharpie art

Are there Any artists/creators/ etc who have influenced your style?

There are a few artists on social media that I more or less idolize – Hilary Jane, Cassidy Rae Marietta, and @InkTally. 

purple and pink walrus sharpie art on wood

Where do you live and how has it contributed to your style?

I live in Austin right now, and although being subjected to local art and the art scene has been impacted massively by the pandemic, I still find a lot of enthusiasm and motivation by seeing what others are doing during this time. But looking at my past 4-5 years here, I have definitely developed an emphasis on the importance of signature and style. Because so many artists here have that, and it’s truly what sets each of us apart and creates our own space. Nobody wants to do the same thing everyone else is doing 😊

girl with face paint sharpie art

What do you hope for when collaborating with another artist/creative?

A great, meaningful experience where we can create something together that couldn’t exist on our own.

african male sharpie art

Why do you love what you do? 

I like to feel that I have a purpose, something that I am passionate about and something that adds meaning to my existence. And frankly my 9-5 job is almost never going to do that. 

The process of creating – from beginning to end, and then being able to look at something that you made that is complete and one of a kind.

comic book style girl sharpie art

Follow Simple Compositions on Instagram for more updates on his journey.