Artist Keith Jensen doesn’t like the business side of art, so he wanted to find a way to keep it fun.
The solution: Give away his creations – well, just for the next year, anyway.
The University of Central Florida graduate and former communication adjunct now lives in New York City, but is the creative art director for a Florida company, which brings him back to Orlando each month.
He recently started leaving original pieces of artwork around New York for passersby to find. Signs attached to the canvases say: “Free art. If having this art will make your day better, then it’s yours.”
At UCF, Jensen earned a bachelor’s degree in business and a master’s in mass communication. In 2004, he started teaching classes in public speaking, and later in advertising and public relations for a few years.
He was always interested in the creative aspects of advertising and doodling, but wasn’t serious about art until last year when a friend asked him to use paint pens to give his Jet Ski some more flair.
Jensen said he discovered his long-dormant skill and started painting on other vehicles and canvases.
“It was something I had never tapped into earlier,” he said. “Now it’s a fun thing for me. People offered to buy them, but it was always an awkward situation to come up with a price. So I decided to give away the paintings.”
So far he has set out a handful of paintings of celebrities, which he said were picked up by people within a couple minutes after seeing the “Free Art” sign on them.
He said he plans to leave one or two paintings each week around New York, and will set out a couple in Orlando when he visits next week. The artist said he also drops hints on his Twitter account about where the paintings are hidden.
“For such a creative and light-hearted industry, art catches a stuffy stigma,” Jensen said. “Art should be about making people feel something when they see it on their wall – and what better feeling is there than getting something valuable for free.”