Giving Back: Cover Artist Justin Gaffrey

Special to Beachcomber


Justin Gaffrey has always been a creative force along the Emerald Coast. From his time as head chef and restaurateur of Café Sublime in Gulf Place to his now astounding art career, Mr. Gaffrey has become a household name.


He began his art career after traveling the world and discovering the work of Van Gogh. He was specifically inspired by Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” and the way the artist used thousands of brush strokes to build layers and create the complete composition of the painting.


Mr. Gaffrey took this inspiration and returned from his travels to apply this to his own work. He mixed latex house paint with latex caulk to create a heavily textured style by stacking layers of paint onto the canvas with a palette knife. This technique soon became recognizable to admirers and collectors in the area, and quickly expanded into the southeast and beyond. Mr. Gaffrey later switched to heavy bodied artists acrylics, which he still uses today.


Apart from his passion for art and creating, Mr. Gaffrey has always been dedicated to serving his community. Combining his love of food and cooking, he has been heavily involved with Food for Thought, a not-for-profit organization based in Santa Rosa Beach that provides backpacks filled with healthy, easy-to-prepare food for students who are dependent on free or reduced school meals.


He has donated paintings to be auctioned off at events in order to raise funds for the organization, and he’s taught kids how to make easy and healthy meals at home utilizing the Food for Thought kitchen. Justin Gaffrey’s two passions, food and art, come together to help empower students and work toward ending childhood hunger along the Emerald Coast and beyond.


The artist’s collectors span from Norway to Australia, Ireland, and all over the United States. His work has been featured in publications such as Southern Living, Florida Digest, and Better Homes & Gardens. Mr. Gaffrey has toured all over the country with his work and has had museum and gallery shows in New York, Miami, Nashville, New Orleans, and Richmond, Virginia.


His own gallery, located in Santa Rosa Beach, houses his latest collections of paintings and sculptures, including his most recent series, “Equation: Movable Art That Solves the Problems of the World,” consisting of mixed media artworks with moving parts. The Justin Gaffrey Gallery is open to the public and available for private events as well.


All of the work Mr. Gaffrey creates is inspired partially by nature but, most notably, by human nature and life experience. The underlying motif of his work is the connection of all things through nature, shared experiences, and the passion to create and learn new things. This passion has driven him throughout the last decade to create and learn through his work, making for a very diverse body of creations.


Since 2001, Justin Gaffrey has been creating beautiful pieces consisting of florals, coastal landscapes, still life, and more. Throughout the years, his art has transformed from “pretty pictures” into complex, multifaceted pieces incorporating science, physics, conceptual ideas, and more emotion into each piece of work.


His continuous drive to learn through his art pushes him to explore new angles and opportunities for creativity. While Mr. Gaffrey still creates the landscapes and paintings he’s known for, this creative lane has opened up new doors for his art and clientele. He has very little restriction on what he can accomplish and incorporate into each piece of work, which in return makes for unique pieces that are incomparable to anything else in the market.

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