An Artist's View of Virginia Beach

An Artist's View of Virginia Beach

Artist and Virginia Beach native Jay Young shares what makes his hometown ideal

Jay Young describes Virginia Beach as “creative and loving with a frat party/surf vibe to it.” But what he loves most is the growing community of local businesses. “I love seeing a new restaurant open up with vintage pinstripe lettering on the window and selection of unique dishes and cocktails. I love seeing so many new businesses come in and how the community comes together to support each other.”

At the age of 21, Jay dropped out of community college to pursue his passion—painting. He scored studio space at Sawdust Road and picked up a bartending job next door at The Bee & The Biscuit. He says, “[Virginia Beach] is a great homebase, all my friends and family are here. The community here is my favorite. If I could stay here and travel for work that would be the dream.

Virginia Beach has made a huge creative shift over the past 5 years. I never went away to college, except for TCC before dropping out, so I’ve been here for these past years and it's a beautiful experience to see everyone grow in their creative crafts and blossom such a cool art scene. We have the ViBe creative district now, local restaurants that have a unique vibe to it, tattoo shops, pop-up events, etc. It has come a long way. Especially, now that Something In The Water has been introduced to our community the sky's the limit for us. Pharrel definitely has put us on the map and it’s only going to get stronger and better over the next years.”

About His Work

Mornings are sacred to Jay. “I take this time to cook a really big and healthy breakfast, turn on some old soul love music like Sunny & The Sunliners, and just reflect on what I want to accomplish for the day.” Once he heads to his studio, he starts by answering Instagram DM’s, emails, and chatting with friends. Then he gets to work and begins painting. “I immediately just hit this meditative state and everything starts to make sense.” 

In talking about his work, Jay says, “My work has matured a lot over the past 3-4 years. A lot of exploration and experimenting. I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn't for all the artists I look up too. Creating is a game of taking everything that inspires you and making it into your own voice. It’s not immediate and takes time.

“Currently, I’m obsessed with portraiture work. I like to manipulate values and the form of the face with palette swabs of colorful paint, resin pours, and blocking off sections with abstract designs. It’s definitely unique, but not new with portraiture. I do put a lot of emotion into it and love when the viewer can feel it.  My love for art history and current artists definitely inspired me to create the way I do, but my upbringing in this community definitely helped. Virginia Beach’s surf/skate culture definitely influenced the way I looked at things growing up. The music, the community, and just good vibes this city has brought me.”

Jay is also diversifying his paintings into the fashion world, working on custom denim jackets. And he mentioned that he has tentative plans to do a pop-up show this summer with other local businesses and creatives. “I want to do more with my community while I can. Virginia Beach has so many young talented creatives. It’s crazy!”

As hard as Jay works, he still makes sure to take a lunch break and wrap up for the day at a decent time. “I’m learning this year how to distinguish work time and rest—it’s so important.”   


When Jay isn’t in the studio, he loves to spend his off time grabbing drinks and food with friends at local restaurants, relaxing, and getting tattooed at Saltwater Tattoo. But if he had to choose a favorite place in all of Virginia Beach, he says Oceanfront would be the one. “There is an abundance of local businesses and the beach right there. Always something to do during the day and night over there. Whether you want to skateboard down the strip with your homies, grab good local food, or party at night. It’s the homebase when I think of Virginia Beach.” 

He says visitors should definitely visit the Pungo/Sandbridge area. The Bee & The Biscuit has the best brunch in the South! There is a great surf shop called Pungo Board House with lots of cool surf merch and boards. And Jay’s favorite coffee shop in the 757 has to be Sawdust Road Coffee Shop. Relaxing with good friends and family at Sandbridge beach is Jay’s ideal weekend. 

When Jay has friends or family visiting from out of town, his list of must-visit restaurants includes Bay Local, Alkaline, Pelons, Esoteric, Stock Pot, Gringos, Back Bay Brewery, Three Ships Coffee, Pizza Chapel, Barrel 17. He says, “There are so many other great places to eat too. Virginia Beach is definitely a great hub to relax at the beach and eat some good food.”