Poet Christian Morgenstern once wrote, “in every work of art, the artist himself is present.” This is certainly true for Jack Yentz, a junior outside hitter for the Loyola men’s volleyball team, who portrays his family and friends through watercolor paintings
When he’s not running plays on the court, Yentz can be found running his own business selling those custom made paintings through his Instagram account @jwydesign. However, his venture into the world of watercolor had humble beginnings.
During his senior year of high school, Yentz said he had some space in his schedule and decided to pack it with art classes. He said that’s where he picked up acrylic painting, despite the fact he had never done it before and no one in his family practiced art while he was growing up.
He ended up liking painting so much he decided to continue it as a hobby when he moved to Chicago to join the Loyola’s men’s volleyball team. However, Yentz said he figured acrylic painting wouldn’t be as accessible in a dorm room — instead, the athlete decided to pivot to something new.
“Coming to college, you can’t really bring a bunch of acrylics — it’s really messy,” Yentz said. “So I was like, if I just have this little tray of paints that I can do watercolor with, I think I can do that in a dorm.”
Soon after, Yentz began doing watercolor paintings of his friends and family after being inspired by a TikTok trend.
His art grew from a hobby to a business when he received his first commission from his sister’s friend, who, as a photographer, was a small business owner herself and encouraged Yentz to share his art through an Instagram account.
His art account, which first went live Nov. 4, features photos of his commissions along with the reference photos he used to develop the paintings. Before posting, Yentz said he makes sure he has the permission of the commission’s subjects.
“Most people are super supportive of me,” Yentz said. “I usually ask ‘can I post this?’ and most people are like, ‘yeah this is so cool,’ which is super nice.”
His business started to take off around the holiday season, with many of his friends and family commissioning him to paint their loved ones as Christmas gifts. Yentz said he’s even done a couple of pieces for some of his teammates.
Apart from his business, Yentz is busy on the volleyball court after serving as the team’s primary libero during the 2021 season. He finished the season ranked fifth in the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) after recording 132 total digs and averaging a total of 1.61 digs per set.
He was also named MIVA Defensive Player of the Week after logging a career-high fifteen digs and five assists during the team’s 3-1 victory over Purdue University Fort Wayne March 12. Yentz also added academic accolades to his season stats, earning MIVA All-Academic Honors.
Although his weekdays are packed as a Division I athlete and an accounting major in the Quinlan School of Business, Yentz said he always tries to find time to work on his art.
Even if it’s just for a short amount of time, Yentz said he appreciates having this time to focus on something besides school or sports. His painting routine often includes sitting in the extra room of his apartment, which he also uses as his study space, with soft music playing after the sun has gone down.
“It’s something completely different to take my mind off [everything],” Yentz said. “If I just have an hour once a week, I can exit my brain for a little bit and have fun with it.”