Phoebe Joynt translates her love of street art to the walls of Austin.
By Courtney Runn, Photos courtesy of Phoebe Joynt
A wall in Austin is never vacant for long. The hashtag #austinmurals currently boasts more than 14,000 Instagram posts, showcasing the best of the city’s murals, from the famous (“You’re My Butter Half” and “I Love You So Much”) to the more obscure. They make for great selfie backdrops but, for the artists, they can provide a crucial chance for exposure and revenue.
New York native Phoebe Joynt moved to Austin in 2017, and in 2019, left behind her graphic-design job to become a full-time artist. Inspired by the snowboarding shops and skating rinks of her childhood, Joynt gravitates toward the bold colors and bright graphics of modern street art. Her tallest mural to date was a 20-foot tall project for Facebook during South By Southwest; her widest was 40 feet along Cesar Chavez Street and I-35.
“I think of New York City in the ’80s where [graffiti] was totally seen as an illegal crime,” Joynt says. “If you were out tagging, you could get arrested, go to jail and I think now more cities are not seeing it as a criminal activity. More people are seeing it as an expression of art which is what I think it always was.”
When she first moved to Austin, Joynt started painting at the original HOPE Outdoor Gallery, meeting other local artists and people from around the state. Without a marketing budget, she’s relied on those organic connections and social media to be able to pursue art full time.
“A lot of people tag the artists of the art they take photos in front of and I think that opens up the artist to have an even bigger network and more eyes on their work…We get to see murals luckily everywhere because it’s totally opened up the art community and allowed more opportunities for people like me to become full-time artists, because of this need now for businesses and consumers who want to engage with artwork,” she says. “I think it’s awesome.”
Joynt begins her murals and canvases the same way: sketching digital renderings on her computer. Next, she translates it to her canvas, working off a grid system or projecting her renderings before picking up a spray can. Except for enlisting the help of friends to buff walls for larger murals, it’s a one-woman show. Her biggest private commission—4 by 5 feet— took about a week and a half ’s worth of work while her SXSW mural included a week of 10-hour days.
“I traded in a 9-to-5 for a 12-hour work day working for myself but it almost doesn’t drain me as much as the 9-to-5 did because I think I’m super involved and passionate about everything I’m working on…sometimes [I] forget it’s even work,” she says.
To celebrate her one-year anniversary of pursuing art full-time, Joynt is marking another milestone: her first solo exhibit. This March, she’s opening “Hello My Name is Phoebe,” featuring more than 35 original pieces at Austin Art Garage. A fitting capstone to a year of work, the show has truly been a lifetime in the making: “It’s great to be able to know what you want to do when you were little and [to]be able to say you’re doing it now is so cool.”