Justin Van Hoy R.I.P.

November 15, 2012

This is my friend Justin Van Hoy holding my daughter Vivienne’s hand in 2007. You can tell she is miserable and that Justin is a mean person. I might feel less bad right now if that were true.  Justin passed away yesterday and I’m not sure why. I know why literally… but what I mean is, why?, when there are so many despicable human beings who thrive by causing suffering and live to old age, do kind and good people leave us too young? The only explanation is that karma just has faulty calibration sometimes.    I met Justin through email or maybe old fashioned mail in 2002. He was going to Winthrop University in Rock Hill S.C. where my grandfather had been president in the 70’s, but Justin did not know there was a family connection because my grandfather was my Mom’s dad whose last name was Davis. I was intrigued by the connection. Justin sent some artwork samples and asked if he could intern at my studio. I liked his stuff so I invited him out to LA to intern and he lived at our house. Justin was a pleasure to be around, he did some great art and design, and worked hard, sometimes staying up to help me cut stencils in the garage until the wee hours. I encouraged him to move to LA after he graduated. We did not have enough work at our design studio to hire Justin, but he had made some friends and connections and soon had steady work in LA. He was a frequent contributor to Swindle Magazine and often did graphics for Obey Clothing. He also worked with Mark The Cobrasnake. Justin always reached out to meet up at Tip’s House Thai by our Korea Town office. One day over lunch he told me that a chronic cough he had was caused by a tennis ball sized lump in his chest. It turned out to be cancer, which he fought and beat with chemo once, only to have to go through the process again 18 months later. He and his fiancé Holly got married immediately, just in case the cancer did not go away the second time. Through it all he maintained a great attitude. After beating cancer, Justin helped to start THIS Gallery http://thislosangeles.com where there are always great shows supporting emerging artists. Justin was as much, or more, about incubating the art community as he was about advancing his own art career. The art community will miss you Justin, and Amanda, Vivienne, Madeline, and I will miss you as a good friend. We will meet up again at Tip’s House one day.

-Shepard Fairey

Check out Justin’s art and design at http://work.thedutchpress.com He’d love to know that you stopped by.