Meet artist Cole James
Based locally in Long Beach, California, Cole is an artist who creates from true passion. Elevating his ceramics to an art form, he creates modern design with a vintage feel and an earthy palette inspired by nature. Cole is also one of the most responsive, adaptive, and intuitive creators we’ve worked with, considering the form and function in his works that makes the art pieces both stunning and beneficial to the plants that reside in them. Hear more about what inspires and drives him.
What motivates you to create?
My motivation often stems from curiosity. Trying to understand clay as a medium and stretch it to its limits. Oftentimes literally. Seeing other artists' process and trying to dissect what exactly they’re doing can easily lead me down creative paths I wasn’t intending on venturing. Clay as a creative medium has endless possibilities, simply trying a slight variation of what I’m used to excites me to create more and more.
Who or what inspired you to get started?
After a few years of the drawing and painting program at my high school, I became tired of creating only for assignments. I never really felt like a true “artist” because drawing and painting wasn’t something I did in my free time, unlike my classmates. My teacher, Ms. Pink, suggested I try the 3d art class and when we got to working with clay I was instantly hooked. I also had a growing love for collecting cactus and succulents. When the prospect of making my own planters for my collection arose, I knew that’s what would fuel my creative drive.
What are some of the things your art has taught you and hope it teaches others?
It’s taught me patience. It’s taught me there’s a right and a wrong way to do things. While you can rush through the process and get mediocre results, really taking your time and making the right choices often leads to what you really want. It’s teaching me to not grow so attached to things. Knowing that I’ll be alright after something breaks is something I try to incorporate into my everyday life, no matter how hard it can be.
What’s a favorite early memory you have with nature?
When I was younger, my father would take me on little day trips up to Mount Baldy. Driving past the little town and noticing the trees growing up through soil and stone. We’d always stop at rock deposits and look for a perfect one to take home. In the wetter months we’d sometimes be stuck in a fog bank and have to wait for it to pass over us to have a more visible passage back down the mountain.
How does nature influence your work?
Since clay and its related materials are of nature itself, I try not to deviate too much with bright, flashy colors. I like to let the material speak for itself and let a lot of the natural colors of fired clay be present. I like to mimic natural phenomena I observe on the earth. Cracks, buckles, layers, weathering. Showing off natural imperfections in patterns and textures I add to my work.