About the Folk Artist
Jim Shore is a born storyteller. But
for him, art speaks louder than words. So Jim sculpts his tales through an
ever-expanding world of charming characters. And today, Jim's Heartwood Creek
Collection is a story all it’s own – a magical mix of collectible “scenes” that
has attracted fans worldwide.
Inspired by nostalgia for his Southern
country upbringing and his fascination with the intricate design of patchwork
quilts, Jim Shore has created a world of fantasy with his charming polyresin
figures. From whimsical animals to Disney characters to seasonal themes, each
has the look of handcarved wood.
He also designs decorative accents for
home and garden, including lamps, wall hangings, weathervanes, birdhouses,
statues, and more. Each design works with nearly any décor, from American
country to contemporary.
“The most rewarding thing about
creating my collection,” Jim tells us, “is that it is continually evolving and
exciting. It's not character driven. There's always room for one more idea –
another work in progress.
“Above all, when people look at my
work or choose a particular piece, I want them to get joy from it. I get e-mails
and letters from people who tell me that one of my pieces symbolizes an
important moment in their life – sometimes happy, sometimes quite sad. This is
very inspiring to me.”
Inspirations from the Past
Art has dominated Jim's life, from the
time he’s spent traveling around the world to his return to the small South
Carolina town where he grew up. But wherever he was, Jim says it was always his
parents who had the greatest influence on his life. “They always encouraged me
to be artistic,” Jim says. “That's probably because my father was a master
woodworker and my mother sculpted and created beautiful paintings on wood. They
never gave me formal training in art, but I was always very quick to pick up any
artistic endeavors, from stained glass and goldsmithing to portrait painting and
We asked Jim why he enjoys folk art so
much. He explained, “Folk art has a certain rhythm and syncopation, and most
people get some sort of satisfaction and pleasure from that. I also like that
it's so versatile and works in various settings – its lack of proportion makes
it almost abstract. And I like the way you can create a motif by combining so
many different elements.
“Most of all, I love certain forms of
folk art, such as quilting, because it's honest. Women, sometimes living in
harsh conditions, went back to their European roots and emulated how this art
was accomplished. They weren't in it for fame and fortune, but wanted to create
something that would be pleasing and functional at the same time. From simple
white-on-white trapunto to luxurious fabric designs, quilts have meaning and
tell a story that is handed down through generations.
“My grandmother was a master quilter,
and my wife Jan has collected quilts and vintage fabrics for years. As you can
see, quilt motifs have also become the anchor in my collection!”
Patchwork quilt designs do appear
throughout Jim's work, often combined with florals and painted “scenes within a
scene.” But some of Jim's favorite items are his seasonal pieces. These are also
popular with collectors, especially his Halloween characters and charming
Christmas angels, nativity scenes, Santas, sleighs and ornaments.
Behind the Scenes
Jim Shore always has a wealth of
creative ideas and says he can often create designs in just a few days. He
starts all his original sculptured figures with a polyresin base. Then he adds
various fillers, depending on the effect he wants to create. Whether it’s
calcium carbonate, ground marble, dried sawdust, or even ground pecan shells,
each imparts a different texture.
“I used to do my own casting,” Jim
says, “but now, by having my work produced elsewhere, more people can enjoy it.
I do all the initial tooling and painting on my model piece, and then teach
craftsmen how I want them to reproduce it. I'm very satisfied with the level of
quality and find that the renditions are very close to my originals.”
Jim says he pays particular attention
to teaching craftsmen his style of painting. “I can't just say, 'Paint this
red.' It may be red, but then there could be added orange, a float of burgundy
and a glaze of purple to create the exact shade I want.”
His plans for the future? Jim has a
long list. He wants to add historical figures and some circus and carnival
themes to his Heartwood Creek Collection. His recent collaboration with Disney
and a signing at Disneyland were very well received and now he's working on his
own version of Cinderella's castle. He will also be continuing his licensing
programs and designing tapestry, dinnerware, cards, and calendars so more people
can enjoy his work in different forms.
Jim likes to talk to young artists and
to others who want to know his secret to success. He is always quick to respond:
“The last thing an artist should pursue is the dollar sign. This is not a
yardstick to success. I use my talent with passion. When you put love and caring
into a work, you succeed. It has to come straight from the heart.”
And that indeed is evident in Jim
Shore's Heartwood Creek Collection.
NALED Artist of the Year 2003, 2004 and 2005
NALED Rising Star 2002
NALED Christmas Collectible of the Year 2003 and
NALED Christmas Décor of the Year 2004 and 2005