Justine Beech is the owner of The Den Archive, a creative powerhouse illustration company, has her BFA in illustration from Pratt Institute, and lives and works in Austin, TX with her husband, Jeff Beech a local Chef, and kids, Ione Vera and Milo Foxon. She specializes in live event drawing, graphic mapping/brainstorming sessions, and editorial illustration, and The Den Archive is heavily influenced by nature, good people and food. The medium may change here and there , but mainly the beautiful line work is done in archival ink by hand, water color, and acrylic, and always has a fun humorous, and carefree air.
In my work, I have been examining family, history, ego, and environment through the use of found vintage imagery and family photography collaged and repainted to tell stories depicting hopes and dreams layered with stark black ink washes. These sketches have developed into large landscape paintings from my own life’s adventures and meanderings, the moments that I find precious that I could get lost in forever. I have turned my own contemporary photography (as well as those of my parents, both photographers in the 1970s at the Nikon School of Photography) of daily life and quiet moments into rich landscape paintings juxtaposed with drawing and installations of un staged local people from waiting at a laundromat to asleep in the streets of Austin and decaying homes across the American South. I am constantly questioning how environmental differences can create drastically different outcomes in our lives and dreams.
Being a mother of two, my work explores family structures and gender roles by staging compositions of scenes of life, letting the viewer interpret the story unfolding through the people in the scene. I gravitate to painting the American South, Texas and urban Austin landscapes which utilize everyday spaces to set a stage, where inanimate objects are wrought with symbolism, quiet contemplations of a sole figure leave space for the viewer to relate and imply their own thoughts, or scenes of relationships between the subjects which tell a story by moving through the landscapes and compositions, there lies a narrative for the fewer. Reminiscent of works of Edward Hopper and Henry Darger in which quiet moments frozen in time unfold layers of symbolism about family, culture, heritage, dreams, addictions, failures, as well as happiness, growth and the defining of oneself.
Attention to detail in lighting and structure within my paintings and drawings help reinforce a realistic, but surreal, dream-like, and vaguely familiar scene transcending time while acknowledging the connection we have as people throughout time, place, race, and class. My work attempts to bring awareness back to the present moment while paying tribute to our own histories, ghosts, fears, and discouragements.