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Meet Eric Junker in Silverlake

Today we’d like to introduce you to Eric Junker.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Eric. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
For years, after college, I cobbled together a living as a graphic designer to support my work as a fine art painter, performance artist and dirt bag surfer. At some point when I was in my 30’s, I panicked about where my life was headed financially, so I started an advertising agency with a friend. We did pretty well with that for about 8 years, but the global financial crisis eventually took its toll. After that it just wasn’t fun anymore, and I was burned out from trying to be successful in the square world. I seized the opportunity to return to a more eclectic life of art and design pursuits and teaching. I’ve never been happier: painting murals, printmaking, road trips, collaborating with chefs and winemakers, working with USC’s Roski School to launch their new graduate program in, design…

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Hahaha! Absolutely not. Smooth roads are no fun. I prefer the bumpy ones! As an artist in my 20’s and early 30’s there were some lean times, when I’d survive for a week on a chicken and a bag of rice. During those years I was known for showing up at my more domesticated friend’s homes conveniently at dinner time just to “say hello.” On the other end of the spectrum, running an ad agency for 8 years with 15 employees working 60 hours a week definitely took its toll. The hardest thing for me was laying people off during the financial crisis. People with kids and families who were dependent on the business to make a living. I remember thinking “this is not something I learned how to deal with in art school!” But really: struggle is good. I tell my students at USC to move towards the struggle. It makes you stronger.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Eric Junker – what should we know?
I use the term “interdisciplinary creative practice” to describe what I do. I make art. I help people solve design problems. I teach design from an artist’s perspective. I enjoy working in the food and wine world designing restaurants, painting murals, and creating wine labels, and I’ve had the honor to collaborate with some of the country’s great chefs: Andrew Carmellini, Suzanne Goin, Roy Choi, Michael Cimarusti… As far as a philosophy goes, when I was a young artist, my work was often critiqued for being too design oriented. As a designer my work was often critiqued for being to “arty.” Now I’m in a place where I’m comfortable doing what I do. I guess dogged persistence is my proudest accomplishment! Also getting to work with people who I deeply respect and making a living without sacrificing precious time spent with my wife and son.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Dogged irrational persistence.

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Image Credit:

Portrait: Tatum Bronte

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