The story of the struggling artist who leaves behind a comfortable corporate job in pursuit of creative fulfillment and happiness has certainly been told before. Jojo Anavim did just that, except so far his short art career hasn’t been much of a struggle at all. It’s been just one year since he decided to make the creation of pop culture-inspired, mixed-media pieces (think: logos from brands like Tide, Coca-Cola and Juicy Fruit gum appearing next to cultural icons like Karl Lagerfeld, Kate Moss and Marilyn Monroe) a full time gig. In fact, his work is already on display in places like PHD Rooftop at the Dream Downtown in New York, the Coca-Cola Archives in Atlanta, a home featured on Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles and all over Instagram being presented to celebrities like Big Sean and Lil Jon.
A former graphic designer and creative consultant for brands like Sephora and W Hotels, Anavim is serious about treating his art like a business. His pieces—which he creates on wood using magazine clippings, screen-printing, acrylic paint, diamond dust and more—are striking and fun, but it is his ability to network and get his art into the right hands that really helped his career take off.
“I didn’t wake up one day and say, ‘I’m just going to leave the cushy paycheck that I’m getting from you big brands in order to pursue an art career in New York City,’ because, I mean, that’s like actively choosing a life of poverty,” he says. He began experimenting on nights and weekends while still working full-time, and though he says the network of connections he built played the biggest role in his success, the serendipitous chain of events that ultimately convinced him to pursue art as a career began like all modern twists of fate—on Instagram. “Amar’e Stoudemire followed me on Instagram randomly, then invited me to his house, and at his house I met this gentleman and he ended up commissioning four really large paintings from me,” he says. “Once that happened, that’s when I started to reassess where my career path was going, and I saw something viable in this.”
Anavim sells pieces directly to customers from his own Chelsea studio, and will be putting his work on display in a solo exhibition for the first time at 287 Gallery at the end of the summer. Above all, he relies on word of mouth to sell his work—and people keep talking.