By Jeff Louderback
When Jennifer Sayger was a little girl, her bedroom walls served as a blank canvas, and a box of crayons were her instruments that brought imagery to life as only a child can. As she grew older, Jennifer’s artistic passion heightened, and she still draws on walls. Now, though, she does so as a professional artist and muralist.
The founder of Murage Studios in Miamisburg, the Kettering native and Beavercreek High School graduate creates mural designs and commercial fine art to homes and businesses across Dayton and southwest Ohio.
Her work depicts a wide range of realistic, abstract and classical subjects. From custom pet portraits to a mesmerizing aviation-themed showcase at Fly Boys Deli, Jennifer crafts timeless custom paintings on canvas and directly on walls.
“It’s exhilarating to take a blank canvas and transform it into an artistic story,” said Jennifer, who is married to her husband, Tim, and has two daughters; Julia, 18; and Trinity, 10. “Whether it is a sprawling mural on a wall, or a traditional fine art piece, every project gives me an opportunity to tell a story through brushes, paint and my vision.”
Jennifer developed an early interest in art and painting that was cultivated by her grandmother, who occasionally painted landscapes. After graduating from high school, she earned a degree in commercial art from what is now known as the Modern College of Design in Kettering. She launched her career as a production artist and graphic designer for Jack’s Aquarium & Pets, and a Fortune 500 marketing firm, before her first daughter, Julia, was born. That’s when she decided to follow her heart – and fulfill her passion – of mural painting and fine art. Murage Studios was born in 2000, coinciding with the arrival of Julia.
Jennifer fondly remembers her first professional mural.
“It was a jungle scene for a child’s bedroom, complete with the vibrant colors of the jungle and a variety of animals,” Jennifer said. “The parents were happy with its appearance, but likely I was even more enlivened because it reinforced my decision to pursue a career as an independent artist.”
Jennifer’s murals can be found at homes and businesses across southwest Ohio, and among the most visible and most popular works are the pieces she created for Fly Boys Deli in Dayton and Beavercreek. One highlight is a mural that covers the ceiling of the Frequent Flyer Hall with a world map, life-like clouds and aircraft that have ties to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
Another of Jennifer’s personal favorites is the Tower of Terror elevator mural at a private residence in Bradford, north of Dayton. It is based on Disney World’s Tower of Terror ride.
“Murals are becoming more prominent in homes,” Jennifer said. “Instead of painting directly on the wall, I can create the mural on canvas sections in my studio and transfer them in sections to the client’s house. Then, if the client moves, or wants another theme in the future, the mural can be removed or replaced, and it doesn’t have to be painted over.”
Jennifer is also delving more into non-commissioned works, like her Game of Bones series, featuring Game of Thrones characters in canine form.
Conscious about the environment, Jennifer likes to use eco-friendly options like American Clay natural plaster in her work. She often incorporates reclaimed materials in her art pieces, breathing new life into old discarded canvases at antique malls and wooden barn wood creations.
“I take pride in using alternative methods to recycle, reduce and reuse without limiting the quality of my work,” Jennifer said. “I believe in being sensitive to the environment for present and future generations.”
Jennifer and her family visit with her now 95-year-old grandmother at Indian Lake during the summer with her husband and two daughters. Though her grandmother no longer paints, Jennifer is delving more into non-commissioned fine art pieces, including her well-liked “Game of Bones” series, which depicts “Game of Thrones” characters in canine form.
“I still haven’t found my niche with my fine art, but I love applying my own creative vision to pop culture icons, and the Game of Bones series is an example,” Jennifer said. “No matter if I am working on a fine art piece, or a commissioned mural, the excitement of visually illustrating a story as an artist inspires me and provides eager anticipation for the next piece.”