Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Interview: Jim Ward Morris

Name: Jim Ward Morris
Occupation: Art & Design
Where you are located: Bellingham, Washington (USA)

1. What kind of art do you make?

I studied art with John Baldessari at California Institute of the Arts and his postmodern appropriated image ideas are very inspiring to me. Lou Danziger was also teaching design at Cal Arts when I received my MFA degree. His clean minimal midcentuy modern design ideas have also influenced my work. Over time I have created a ridiculously long list of people who in some way, shape or form have influenced me as an artist…here is the short version of my favorites:
Mies Van Der Rohe, Charles Eames, George Nelson, Herman Miller, Arthur Miller, Marilyn Monroe, Scarlett Johansson, The Birth of Cool, Jim Jarmusch, Saul Bass, Joseph Eichler, Pierre Koenig, Andy Warhol, Elvis Presley, Seatbelt Bags, VW Bus, The Incredibles, Big Joe Turner, Jonathan Adler, Etsy, Atlantic Records, Capitol Records, Motown, Life Magazine, Russel Wright, Florence Knoll, Arne Jacobsen, Eero Saarinen, Rob & Laura Petrie, Hive, Dwell, Flor, Turntables, Galaxie 500, Luna, Sputnik, Telstar, Cowboys and Poodles, Astro Jetson, Richard Neutra, Motor Scooters, Vespas, Eero Aarnio, Anita Ekberg, Paul Rand, Alvin Lustig, James Bond, Dr Seuss, Man from Uncle, MadMen, Catcher Block, Send Me No Flowers, Vertigo, Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, Miller James Huggins, North by Northwest, Alan Brady, Jack Kerouac, Bob Dylan, Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Ad Reinhardt, Franz Kline, Ellsworth Kelly, Barnett Newman, Midcentury Art & Design.

I love popular culture, advertising from the 1950's and 1960's and I love my urban lifestyle…so I make art about the things I love.

Visit my site and work at JIMWARDMORRIS.COM

2. What do you enjoy most about working in this medium?

My work begins as printed analog imagery. Each image is transformed to a digital file and designed with color and illustration. I remember Mies Van Der Rohes idea of "less is more" when I begin to make art. This brilliant thought helps me every time. As a young artist I remember not having great museums close by to visit, so for many years my experience with great art was with what could be seen in a magazine or in a history book. To this day I like the way most great art looks on the printed page much better than in real life. My art career started (in Orange County) looking carefully at each advertisement on the pages of Life magazine. I was born in Fullerton California (home to Leo Fender and the original Fender Music Company). After school at Cal Arts I moved to New York. I lived in Manhattan for a while and hung out with people like Robert Longo and Cindy Sherman. Manhattan became too expensive and I did not want to move out to Brooklyn, so I moved back to the West Coast. For years I created (and sold) very large paintings (10X20 feet) in galleries in Los Angeles. The art world in LA was very pretentious so I began to spend more time with people in the music world in LA. They can be just as pretentious, but they understand how to have fun better than the art world does. I began to design and create images for bands who had deals with major record label, bands like Son Volt, Wilco, Dwight Yoakam, Cracker and REM. We all had lots of fun and we all made lots of money. LA and the art & music worlds have changed, and I have changed as well. So, a few years ago I moved to Bellingham Washington. I now live and work in a very cool house built 1956 with my daughter Pearl, my son Huggins, and my wife Carly. Carly is absolutely beautiful and she is much younger than me…but our age difference works out well because, Carly is much smarter than me. Carly looks a lot like Scarlett Johansson meets Marilyn Monroe, and I love her.

3. What challenges have you found in your work?

The biggest challenge I see as an artist is our societies view of what is important. I of course believe art is much more important than the war in Afghanistan or the TV show American Idol. Most would disagree with me, but surely having more art and design in your life is best.

4. What are your favorite artists, designers & blogs.

If forced to make a top 10 list I include: Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Mies Van Der Rohe, Charles Eames, Andy Warhol, Bob Dylan, Miller James Huggins, Saul Bass, Etsy and Jenn Ski.

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