Justin Klement – Enviousart
“People thought I was crazy,” recalls Justin Klement, but the Whitehall-based artist has never let people’s opinions dictate his life.
When some people picture a college football player, they might imagine a genetically gifted young man more concerned with practice and afterparties than going to class. When they imagine a college art major, they might imagine someone dressed in acrylic-stained jeans with traces of charcoal perpetually lining his fingernails. When they think of a business major, perhaps they think of someone frequently praised for his logic or practicality.
Klement isn’t interested in stereotypes or fitting neatly into boxes, though. While athleticism and artistic ability don’t typically go hand in hand, they have served as a complementary backdrop for his entire life.
Like most creatives, the budding artist could frequently be spotted with a pencil in hand, drawing. As he progressed through high school with sketch-filled notebooks, many of them contained more drawings than actual notes. Despite his burgeoning hobby of doodling in the margins, he maintained straight As and, unsurprisingly, always looked forward to art class.
Unlike most creatives, he also always looked forward to gym class.
“Sports have always been such a huge part of my life,” Klement says. “There are so many life lessons that I learned on the field.”
He also lacks the negative voice many creatives have buzzing inside their heads that tell them their work isn’t good enough. “This is going to be great,” he says is what goes through his mind when he’s creating a new piece of art. “Not trying is the worst thing you can do.”
After high school, the optimistic artist and athlete headed to Moravian College, where he earned his “crazy” reputation by double majoring in Graphic Design and Business. Oh, yeah: he also played varsity football for four years and graduated with a 3.7 GPA.
His artwork hangs in the homes of Drew Brees, a quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, and Reggie Bush, an NFL running back.
Although Klement studied design in school, it wasn’t until he left that he developed his own artistic voice. A friend introduced him to stenciling and spray painting, and, paired with his strong design foundation, it ultimately evolved into his signature style that he calls “graphic design meets street art.”
Today, his work is a harmonious marriage of his passions for sports and art. His primary subject matter is focused on people making an impact on the world: athletes, celebrities, and musicians.
“I paint a lot of people that are in the limelight,” Klement says, explaining why he calls his business Enviousart. “People we idolize and people we envy.”
He combines design elements with street art techniques – primarily spray painting – by starting digitally. A typical project begins by opening Photoshop and experimenting with composition, typography, and color schemes long before any actual paint is mixed. After poring over the details on screen, he’ll finally move to the canvas, beginning with the background. His backgrounds aren’t a simple color or something forgettable, however – they’re complex and texturized individual pieces in their own right, often taking several long nights of work to complete.
Then, Klement moves on to the figure. This is where he draws on his knowledge of street art, breaking the layout down into a series of hand-cut stenciled layers to control the spray paint. He says that while he relies on the principles of design in the foundation of his work, he uses shadows, splatters, and spray to create depth, attitude, and emotion in his dynamic paintings.
“It’s quite the process,” he says. “The last thing you want to do is mess up on a background that took you a few days to finish.”
While his work might be characterized as fan art, his brush strokes and spray cans are reserved for those who do more than just score a touchdown or write a hit song.
One of his latest pieces features Saquon Barkley, a former Whitehall High School all-state running back and current Penn State University football star. Klement took note of the football player when Barkley selflessly gave his own gold medal to a track and field athlete who lost a race she had originally won after a timing malfunction required the race to be repeated.
Klement’s scope isn’t just local, either. His artwork hangs in the homes of Drew Brees, a quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, and Reggie Bush, an NFL running back. Bob Saget of Full House fame once tweeted his work, and a social media post from DJ Tiesto sharing Klement’s work garnered a massive 30,000 likes.
“The best part of the finished product is seeing how the subjects react,” he says. “Mike Tyson was hesitant to sign a painting. He wanted to take it home with him.”
Klement isn’t sure what’s next for Enviousart, but hopes to keep creating inspirational pieces of the people who inspire him.