Trucker turned artist gaining recognition for painting, tattoo talent

"I'm a 40-year-old truck driver and this is what I'm doing," he said. "I like to think the sky's the limit, you know?"

Trucker J.D. Dunlap is learning to balance his newly created art business with his driving profession after gaining quite the following this past year.

Dunlap works 12-hour shifts, five days a week as a truck driver, but has taken up painting and tattoo art after he rediscovered his artistic talents.

Last spring, a friend approached him to commission a portrait painting. Dunlap hadn’t really been involved with art since art class while he attended Zanesville City Schools in the 1990s, but took up the challenge of creating a custom piece.

After the commissioned work, word spread about Dunlap’s talent and he decided to continue his artistic endeavors.

“Before that, it was just having kids and a wife and trying to survive, but I’ve always had that passion in the back of my mind,” he said. “I just never knew how to translate it into a reality,” Dunlap told the Zanesville Times Recorder.

His art business started to take off, especially on social media. He showcased his work on Instagram and Facebook since there was little opportunity to attend art fairs or sell his work at in-person events.

“And it just kind of snowballed from there,” said Dunlap.

His work is usually bright and bold designs inspired by historical and pop culture figures like Elvis Presley, Muhammad Ali, the Joker, Johnny Cash, and other celebrities and TV characters. Dunlap’s interest in tattoos also took off during the pandemic and now he’s a part-time tattoo artist at Fallen Angel Tattoos.

 

Elvis Presley ( for Sale )

Posted by JD Dunlap Art on Sunday, January 3, 2021

Posted by JD Dunlap Art on Saturday, November 28, 2020

Dunlap recently received the top prize in the 2020 Ronna Bucci/Dr. Charles Dietz Artist Awards. He continues to showcase and sell his work on his Facebook page, JD Dunlap Art.

 “If you’re doing what you love you don’t feel like you’re working. I got a little taste of that (with painting). Eventually, I’d like to be a full-time artist. But I guess I’ve got to wait until the timing’s right.”