Meet Joy Dunigan: ‘I live my life in the arts’

by Georgene Brazer, Local columnist for Bryan Co. News
Updated: Mar 25, 2021, 10:15 AM

This week, I write about Joy Dunigan, a talented local artist and gallery owner.

Joy sat down for our interview. She looked around, took the environment in, and smiled, obviously confident and sure of herself. She spoke in a modulated voice prepared to tell her story. “All arts come together at some point because there is a common thread that weaves its way through it all. I have always lived my life in the arts, no matter what it is, graphic design, photography, music, industrial design, etc. For me, as an artist, I have a great social responsibility.”

“I am a true artist at heart, by trade, I am a graphic designer. Whatever it may be, logos and brand identities, brochures, publications, websites, etc., I take the essence of something and I put it into a context, by which all can understand. I ensure contextual continuity in everything I do. It is what my clients expect of me.”

From a very early age, Joy knew that art was and would be her world. She loved to draw, color, creativity was just what she did. She clearly remembered her grandfather painting and showing her how to paint by numbers! Her father was a photographer who always inspired further creativity. Both of her parents loved music, so that definitely was a main part of her childhood. She remembers her father loved the Beatles, her mother the Beach Boys. Deeply fascinated, Joy would carefully open the vinyl album of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band, and remembers specifically reading the lyrics on the inner sleeve.

Her education, her formality in art, came with a bachelor of fine arts degree from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).

She began her career early at Longwater & Company as a Graphic Designer. She went on to work within Gulfstream Aerospace’s internal marketing department as a Senior Graphic Designer working on a small design team tasked with rebranding the global company in 2002.

Based on that success, she opened her own practice in 2003 eponymously named JOY Marketing LLC.

She has designed and commanded the identities of some of the world’s most elevated high-performance yachting brands and locally, the Georgia Ports Authority in 2017.

The Photopoint Gallery is just a side-note in her ongoing career but a big one nonetheless.

The Gallery is located inside Elmgrem’s Garden Center just off of Hwy 144 and Cherokee Street in Richmond Hill. As owner and Gallery Director, she features mainly artists from the area.

“There is tremendous talent here just like in a big city. I would like to think that we are fast becoming a city that strongly embraces the arts. I encourage everyone to always keep your eyes wide open because there are some very talented artists in the Richmond Hill area, many of them members of Arts on the Coast. They have a gallery here too, at the Welcome Center. We work together to develop art shows and exhibits that enrich our community through all aspects of the arts.”

“Art is not just a painting that hangs on the wall. It comes in many forms, Yes, I make a living as a graphic designer and fine artist but everyone should also consider the culinary arts, performing arts, fashion as art forms too. From tasting to creating garments.” Joy looked at me and said, “Life is art.”

As I listened to Joy I realized the vastness of art. Regardless of what medium is brought forth, every artist contributes something personal, perhaps offering up a slice of their soul. It is through their work that you get to know who the artist is and even for a moment what they are saying as a human being.

Art can prompt you to be inquisitive. Art is very emotional and can give us a chance to experience it in such a way that we begin to discover things about ourselves and our own story.

Artists tend to recognize and help other artists.

When I approached Joy about hosting a book signing event for local author Larry Barker, she was happy to host it. It was an opportunity to connect the visual arts with the written word.

To demonstrate, Jim Leahy of Leahy Art Gallery has been commissioned by the author, Larry Barker, to create to an impressionistic painting inspired by his new novel, “Pittman Creek” of the creek , a real place, beautiful and central to the story.

The painting will be given away the night of the book signing on Friday, March 26.

Attendees will also be entertained on that evening by a short talk by Joy Dunnigan and a brief reading from the book by the author.

The event will also feature food and drink, and is free and it is open to the public.

Several of the artists featured in the current ArtWalls2021 show hanging in the gallery will also be on hand to greet you.

So, come and meet the creators that live and work here in Bryan County.

The Richmond Hill Downtown Development Authority is promoting this event as part of the theme: Richmond Hill, City of History, Art and Restaurants.


• Selected for The Southern Landscape exhibit hosted by the SxSE Photo Gallery - January 2021
• Selected for 2020 Artfields, 2021 Artfields - Lake City, SC
• Cover of Reflections Magazine, October/November 2018

Like an old Hollywood film set, the gates to the Torrey-West mansion on Ossabaw Island are iconic, yet at the same time mysterious and majestic. The gates were originally part of the family’s home that once stood on the same property as Bonaventure cemetery in Savannah, Ga. When the house burned, the gates were moved to their new home on Ossabaw Island, GA. One can only assume that the passing from this world to the next, the entrance is just this dramatic. It is a portal, into what Sandy Torrey-West called ‘the real world.’

As I looked around the Photopoint Gallery, as I realized that I was telling the tale of a deep, important woman, a supporter of our community, who understands the importance of the many art forms that hang upon the walls, but more than that. I am a supporter of the arts, and encourage their growth and popularity.

How fortunate I am to bring stories and the ideas of great people to you here in Bryan County and Richmond Hill.

Thank you, Joy for sharing your ideas.

A Ford resident, Georgene Brazer is chairwoman of the Richmond Hill Downtown Development Authority.