Selling under the name JenniferHeartsArt on Etsy, Cunningham paints everything from realistic and cartoon-ish celebrity portraits (including one of Austin’s own Willie Nelson) to colorful roses and trees. She also makes jewelry and hair accessories, but trust me: It’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.
“When people see bright, colorful, cartoon-y things, they think of me,” Cunningham told Austin.com. “My work fits in better with a comic book convention crowd than a craft fair crowd.”
It’s true. From vampire fang necklaces to comic book bubble rings with the word “POW!” on them, Cunningham’s work is unique. That probably explains why the quirky store Atown on Burnet and sci-fi/fantasy/horror store Sfanthor on South Congress sell her work, which mostly costs in the $15 to $25 range and on occasion in the lower hundreds.
This success didn’t come out of nowhere, though. Cunningham’s been making art pretty much her whole life for fun, across the various Texas towns she’s lived in. She only got serious about it after moving to Austin nine years ago, when she began taking drawing and design courses at Austin Community College. She turned her skills into a part-time business in 2010 and a full-time business in 2012. Soon, she hopes to sell her work in galleries.
Now Cunningham balances parenting (she has three kids) and art, working from home while her kids are at school or in bed. She’s also a freelance makeup artist. I know: How does she do it, right? Not without the wonderfully supportive art community of Austin, Texas.
“If I didn’t have the inspiration and encouragement I get from living here, I don’t think I’d be doing this at all,” Cunningham said.
Inspiration and encouragement: sounds like the Austin we all know and love. Check out Cunningham’s stunning artwork on the Etsy page JenniferHeartsArt or at Atown or Sfanthor.
Cunningham models one of her POW! bubble rings, which she sells via Etsy. Photo: Rebecca L. Bennett