We were lucky to catch up with JamesJimJimmy Phillips recently and have shared our conversation below.
JamesJimJimmy, appreciate you joining us today. The first dollar you earn is always exciting – it’s like the start of a new chapter and so we’d love to hear about the first time you sold or generated revenue from your creative work?
When first I was emboldened to display work for sale,, A generous Gallery Owner agreed to display my work.
After a brief stare at my little piece on his pedestal, I was planning a return trip to show my wife.
Before we returned, I was informed it had sold. I was happy, but what I really wanted at the time, was to walk in with my girl, and puff up my chest.
When I picked up my check, the gallery owner gushed, and said, “bring me a bunch more just like that one.”
My reply was said in a facetious sarcastic attempt at humor.
“Oh man, I don’t wanna do a bunch of pelicans”
He didn’t laugh.
I quickly made more stuff i knew he would love and delivered for his review.
He stared at me and said
“I said a pelican like the last one”
He never showed my work again.
Since then, I mostly do as I am asked by my clients.
JamesJimJimmy, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
When I was a child, My mother taught and encouraged me to draw. By high-school, I sort of fancied myself an artist. I didn’t make any art for the following 30 years.
16 years ago, while removing a tree in my front yard, I started doodling on a log with a chainsaw and carved a pelican. It was pretty cool looking and I couldn’t resist showing it to friends, and family. All encouraged me to do it again. I started making stuff in every spare moment .
17 years ago I began displaying work in Galveston.
14 years ago that gallery was destroyed by Hurricane Ike, never to reopen.
The following year I began displaying work at The Rene Wiley Gallery where I a still show my studio work today.
The same day I found the Rene Wiley Gallery renewileyart.com, I was contacted by a woman determined to in some way salvage the old Liveoaks lost to Hurricane Ike storms urge. I carved the first tree at city hall, and homeowners began commissioning them, and it turned into a fun tourist tour.
10 years ago, Texas Country Reporter did a flattering show on the project, and my website lit up with opportunities to carve trees all over Texas.
The following year, I left my proper day job. Now I make stuff every day, either studio work, or onsite tree sculpture.
I remain the luckiest guy I know.
What do you think is the goal or mission that drives your creative journey?
Make more stuff, start something new every day. At first, as a practical matter, if you want to earn a living as an artist, you have to make a lot of stuff. I have found joy in the doing.
Makes me want to do another.
Can you share a story from your journey that illustrates your resilience?
My first venture into public display of my work was at the Arts Alliance Center Clear Lake. I submitted 3 works for consideration in a juried show. They were all rejected, and I went to fetch my stuff, embarrassed that I had been so bold as to submit my stuff for such a fine show. The curator waved me down, as I dragged my heels to the truck.
She encouraged me to try again, insisting I not quit.
I showed work in each of their shows till it closed several years later.
I am forever indebted to her for her timely encouragement.