James McClung has quickly established himself as a sought after artist in the contemporary art and graphic design communities. He’s worked with clients such as Stereo Skateboards, Parliament Chocolate, Life & Thyme, Augie’s Coffee, Wheel House LA., and Strawfoot, among others.
Josh from Hounder caught up with James to talk about some fresh topics that entrepreneurs are facing. Here is a look into that conversation.
James, your work has been full of variety over the years. From ink, acrylic, pencil sketches, to endless types of papers and canvases. What influences you?
I feel like there is a variety of aspects in my surroundings as well in unknown places that I’ve had the opportunity to travel to that has caught my eye the past couple years. From a building that seems somewhat out of place to a image of a woman walking by a sign that couldn’t be better timing in a perfect composition (picture a Wes Anderson movie clip here*). Artists such as Evan Hecox, and Geoff Mcfetridge have influenced my work for many years. Lately I’ve been digging in to the work of Ed Rusha and Jonas Wood.
You took the plunge 6 years ago to leave your “day-job” to focus on your passion, your artwork. When do you think someone should just go for it? How do they know they are ready?
For me I felt that I had a community of local business owners who were wanting to work with me to the point it was like having another job. It truly felt like it was time when there was communication almost every day of the week for upcoming projects etc.
What’s your advise to artists who are trying to build a list of clients right now! How do you seek out opportunities?
Build relationships. I think to get started it truly comes down to again having a community. Once you have a solid foundation where you are then it’ll be time to spread your wings and branch out.
Pricing work can be tricky. From charging too little, too much, or simply not knowing what your work is worth. How do you price your work?
This has always been a tricky one. But, when it seems like you’re desperate for some cash, try your best to stand by your worth. And I think you really cant put a price on anyones work or “worth”. I sold my first painting for $20 back in 2003. Since then I’ve always increased the price accordingly 30–50%. To me it’s not really about the hours or size of a work of art. It’s more about all the years of experience you’ve had to get to that point.
Do you ever have periods where you feel a little bit disconnected from your work, or where you burn out? How do you deal with those?
Almost every piece I work on haha. There always seems to be a mid point in a new piece of work where it feels like Im trudging along to complete it. Most of the pieces I do are pretty tedious and time consuming. Over the years I’ve had to learn to adapt to the mind set of being patient for the final out come and not rush through a new painting. It took a lot of years to being ok with working on one piece at a time.
Overall, why do you do what you do, and why do you love it?
I love a good story. I aspire to do my best to create some connection with people with each new series I work on. Since 2015 I’ve worked on 5 different projects that in a way connect to each other. Like chapters in a biography book. They’re all really about what it is I’m going through at the time. I think people really connect or fall in love with a image that has some kind of personal story to it. Lately I’ve been really focused on creating a narrative as well pushing my abilities in each new piece.