Meet Jared Dunten, copywriter at GSD&M by day and painter by night. Dunten’s work has inspired many, and his most recent work illustrating GSD&M chairman, CEO and co-founder Roy Spence’s new book, The Ten Essential Hugs of Life, promises to continue spreading Dunten’s contagious joy for life.
By Andy East
In April 2000, while camping in the Chisos Mountains in Southwestern Texas, Jared Dunten dove into the Rio Grande River and woke up in the hospital in Lubbock, Texas, paralyzed from the neck down. In the hospital, Dunten stove off pneumonia and a decubitus ulcer, and overcame prognostications that he may never breathe or talk on his own again.
“For the first couple of years, I was in a pretty dark place,” Dunten recounts. “But I continued to work and I was blessed with wonderful family, friends and a great support group at GSD&M.
“One of the things I always liked as a kid was drawing. I loved art. But it was after the accident that my mom encouraged me to [paint]. I designed an easel and my dad built it. I can roll underneath it and rotate it in different angles.”
Fast forward 11 years, and Dunten has learned to paint with his mouth by using a brush that is long enough to reach the palette on his lap, and has also dabbled with placing the palette on his feet. Although he’s still experimenting with different styles, his work already runs the gamut, from landscapes and flowers to animals, featuring a tantalizing array of colors and vibrant textures.
“There’s always a way to do it. There’s always a way around it. Life’s short. Focus on the good things and the bad stuff usually falls to the wayside,” Dunten says. “The accident and what I experienced in the hospital serves as a reminder for me to just focus on the great things.”
Thirteen years after the accident, Dunten’s career as a copywriter is still thriving, and he has two sons with his wife of six years, Kimberly.
“I love life,” Dunten continues. “I feel very blessed to have a second chance to be able to paint.”
Visit jdunten.com for more information on Dunten and his paintings.
The Ten Essential Hugs of Life
Brace yourself for a literary bear hug from chairman, CEO and co-founder of GSD&M, Roy Spence, as he imparts stories and lessons from his life, following his father’s advice: “Anyone worth meeting is worth hugging.” Complemented by Dunton’s illustrations, The Ten Essential Hugs of Life is sure to leave you filled with love, hope and compassion. “A couple of years ago, Roy sent me the book. He was still kicking it around and he asked me to illustrate it. I was thrilled,” Dunten says. “It takes on a lot of these really big themes. It can help people put things in to perspective. I don’t think that there can be too much goodwill and happiness in the world.”