It’s time for the second installment of my Chinoiserie Chic Artist mini series! If you missed the first edition, you can find it here. Today, I’m so happy to be sitting down and chatting with Austin based artist CoCo Zentner! CoCo is an acrylic and mixed media artist and is inspired by her southern surroundings, having grown up in Louisiana. Whether its through her travels and taking in the everyday beauty that surrounds us from food, music or nature, she paints everything from ginger jars to tablescapes.
This morning at 10am CST, CoCo launches her latest painting series, The Dinner Party Series and was gracious enough to give me an exclusive sneak peek! It’s beyond beautiful and I’m sharing all the details as well a glimpse of a few of the paintings the end of today’s post! Teaser: the paintings are painted on vintage wallpaper and 10% of all proceeds go to Feeding America. An ingenious medium (that I personally adore) combined with a good cause? It doesn’t get any better.
CoCo paints a wide variety of subjects and has such incredible breadth. I love all of her work and I’m sure it comes as no surprise that her Blue & White Series and The Porcelain Series (along with a few of her paintings from the Dinner Party Series) are among my favorites. Not only is CoCo immensely talented, she is as a humble as she is kind, which shines through in her paintings and in today’s Q&A. It might sound odd, but her paintings exude joy. Trust me, when you see them you will understand!
P.S. These prints from her blue and white collection are currently sold out, but you can always commission a piece or sign up here to be notified when she does her next launch of prints sometime in May. She only offers a small number of limited-edition prints with a rotating inventory, so you have to move fast but there is always something new!
Photography by Kayla Snell
Q&A with Coco Zentner
Q: The moment I saw both your Porcelain Series and your Blue and White Series, I knew I was going to be customer! You mentioned you used to have a corporate career. How did you decide to leave that path and pursue a full-time career in art?
A: Thank you so much! I’ve had a strong affinity towards painting since I was little and studied art throughout college. I had a bit of a freak out moment towards the end of college, scared that I’d become a ‘starving artist’ and ended up taking a whole different route.
On my first date with my now-husband, I told him I was going to one day pursue painting full-time – he pushed me for years to pull the trigger and I’m so grateful he did. After working nearly five years in the tech industry, I felt so drained not using my creativity and finally decided to pursue my dreams of painting full-time! We put together a business model and I haven’t looked back once!
Q: Those are my favorite types of stories! One of my favorite things about your paintings is how you paint such a broad your range of subjects, yet they all feel related somehow. How would you describe your own aesthetic?
A: My aesthetic is constantly evolving. However the one thing that has always been consistent is my use of color. I love bright colors and texture – with moments of quick brushstrokes and then other realistic moments that really grab your attention.
Q: I’ve noticed that many of your newer paintings take on a slightly more abstract approach. What brought about this transition?
A: I’ve always been a perfectionist and still have to cling to that when I create my realistic flowers, but I have been slowly letting my brush do more of the talking and am loving the results.
Q: What do you feel is the hardest part about being an artist?
A: I think on a positive side – it’s hard to keep up with the demand! On the negative side – there is a constant temptation to always be working. My mind is constantly swirling with ideas, and I just have to force myself to turn it off.
Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring artists who are trying to grow their business or who dream of pursuing a full time career as a creative professional?
A: If you are working another job, create as much as possible on the side. It may be difficult balancing so much, but having job security and income really helps in discovering your signature style. I entered my art career having saved a few months of income so that I didn’t have the pressure to create art just to make money, which made a huge difference when starting out.
Another piece of advice is to network, network, network! I wish so badly that I had joined certain groups before I really started to grow my business. Check out your local Chamber of Commerce, women entrepreneur groups, or even get coffee with an artist every few weeks. Having a strong community is so dire when trying to build your own business.
Q: Finally, what secrets can you spill about the release of your latest collection, The Dinner Party Series that launches today at 10am CST?
A: This 12 pieces series of paintings is a little different for me, as I explored a new medium utilizing vintage wallpaper. During this uncertain time I wanted to let go of my precise, realistic style and allow my paint to do the talking. Eating with one another is often one of the strongest ways of bonding and building community. Some of my fondest memories from my childhood & early adult life have been at my grandmother’s dinner table. She owned every color china which perfectly paired with specific napkins and cutlery, and this same affinity for bringing people together has now passed down to my mom.
For me, my way of documenting my recollections of these dinners is best told through my version of storytelling…my artwork. These paintings tell my story and my memories, but my intentions are to bring you back to nights that you’ll always remember and many wonderful nights that are to come. Whether it was a funny date gone wrong or the last meal with a loved one, I hope that my colors and playful style evoke similar emotions as they conjured in me and provide a ray of sunshine and hope during this uncertain time.
Q: Can I see a sneak peek?
Q: I love them! Thank you for sending pictures of your process. It was so fascinating seeing how you used the wallpaper to serve as a tablecloth in some of the paintings! After this series, what’s next for Coco Zentner? What do you hope to achieve in the next year?
A: Gosh, I have so many goals! I have a new print collection launching in a few week and I’m going to be teaching my first in-person workshop with an amazing company here in Austin in the next few months, which I’m thrilled about. I have a gut feeling it’s going to really give me the itch to teach. One of my lofty goals is to design my own wallpaper! But for the time being, I’m just going to keep painting and creating.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me about your work and your career. I know my readers will not only love your paintings but will instantly relate to you, which makes your pieces even more special!
The Dinner Party Series Details:
I hope you all will help me support CoCo with her upcoming collection being releasing on her website on Thursday, April 30th at 10 am CST to VIP Studio Insiders. Doors open to the public at noon CST. To become a VIP Studio Insider, you can sign up here.
*10% of all purchased paintings in this series will go to Feeding America. I am hoping to raise at least $1,000 through my artwork and additional public donations. For every $1 donated, at least 10 meals are provided to families in need through the Feeding America network food banks.
*Gift cards are always available to purchase and make great gifts for a loved one (especially with Mother’s Day approaching). You can shop gift cards here.
*Also, Thank you to all of the interior designers who have started working with artists featured on my site. I has been so fun connecting everyone and I can’t wait to see some of the newly commissioned pieces!