Sell with Confidence
Read More

CJ Hendry; changing the scene for Brisbane artists

Born in South Africa and now calling New York home, CJ grew up in Brisbane and rose to fame as an artist through the social media platform Instagram.

Now with over six hundred thousand followers on Instagram, CJ has officially turned her passion into a career. 

Not one to try and fit in, CJ didn’t want the pressure of a gallery so turned to social media to promote her work. She went on to sell all her works on Instagram, within minutes of posting. 

Anything but lazy, CJ started her career drawing from 7:30am to 10pm at night, seven days a week. Her particular style of drawing required intense focus that only someone like CJ could really give. 

Her days training to be an Olympic athlete taught her discipline, to make sacrifices, to keep her eye on the prize and to stop at nothing to achieve success. In fact, when she decided to make art her full time job, she sold her entire designer wardrobe on eBay to support herself financially.

CJ is giving other artists a view of what is possible. She is always evolving and pushing herself to new heights never wanting to conform to a rule book or what people expect of her. She uses even the most daunting obstacles as a creative opportunity. Oh, and if you want to buy a piece of her work you could be waiting for three years, so get in line.  

Matt: When did you discover your love of drawing? 

CJ: I loved drawing through school and Uni, but always thought I was too ‘structured’ and ‘focused’ to be an artist so dismissed it as an option for a career. 

Matt: When you were starting out, what sort of things did you draw?

CJ: I drew items from around the house. I loved drawing luxury brands because I was obsessed with the perfect world of luxury retail. I have drawn Chanel perfume bottles, designer bags and shoes, foods on different plates and playing cards to name a few.

Matt: I’m a big fan of the boxing gloves. How would you describe your art to someone who hasn’t seen your work?

CJ: Floyd Mayweather wanted that piece too, but it had already sold. I draw in a hyper realistic style that’s super meticulous. My drawings often get mistaken for photographs. 

Matt: Did you have plans for a different career before you pursued your art?

CJ: I trained very hard to be an Olympic swimmer. I even represented Australia as a teenager, but when I didn’t make the Olympic team, I decided to become an architect. That failed too! So, I decided to go into finance… I mean how hard could it be? I spent five years doing a three-year course, and I still haven’t finished. Following all of that I decided to drop everything to draw. I gave myself 365 days to sell my first piece, and if that failed, I would return to Uni. Thankfully, I haven’t had to go back.

Matt: If you weren’t an artist, what would you be? 

CJ: Honestly, I can’t imagine doing anything else. I’m very lucky to have the opportunity to turn my passion into my 9-5.  

Matt: When did you sell your first piece of art?

CJ: I was 25. It was just six months after quitting my job, dropping out of Uni and attempting to make it as an artist. I sold a drawing of RM Williams boots to a Brisbane collector. They were an old pair; you know where the leather looks worn and cracked? It was huge and all in black ink. 

Matt: I know you don’t like to name drop but who are some client’s I would know of?

CJ: Ha, yes there are some high-profile people who’ve bought my work over the years. I’m very fortunate. 

I’ve also collaborated with Christian Louboutin, which was an absolute thrill, and worked on a custom piece for Melbourne Fashion Week. 

Matt: Was there a moment you knew your art was making waves?

CJ: No, not really, it was more a collection of moments. After my first sale I realised there was a lot of momentum building. 

Matt: What would you say to other young Brisbane artists starting out?

CJ: I’m always hesitant to give advice as everyone is different. But I would say create, create, create! 

Matt: Why the big move to New York in 2015?

CJ: For me, I was never going to fit the mould of what a successful Australian artist looked like. Moving to New York gave me a lot more creative freedom. 

Matt: I think I know, but can you share with the readers your favourite quote and why?

CJ: It’s a Mike Tyson beauty, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face”. I used to think success was about a perfect plan executed at all costs but after my plans kept failing, I learnt to be flexible and adapt. 

Matt: Something that might surprise readers to know about you…

CJ: My right hand is insured for $10million.

Matt: What do you love about Brisbane?

CJ: I miss Brisbane’s weather. Brisbane is very calming for me, I can just switch off and relax.

Follow @cj_hendry’s journey for a daily dose of inspiration or visit her website for upcoming exhibition dates and more.

I hope you enjoy the read.

Matt Lancashire