American painter, illustrator, muralist and street-artist James Bullough currently resides in Berlin (Germany). His work leans towards photorealism and 3D working with a combination of materials including oil, acrylic, latex and spray paints!
1. What would you say is the most important theme in your work?
‘Altered reality’. I like to play with the way we perceive the people and objects around us. Whether abstracting my subject with slices and shifting segments or playing with negative space breaking through them, I’m constantly trying new things and different ways to alter the imagery I’m working with. There are also underlying themes dealing with body image and male vs. female perceptions of each other, but I don’t talk about those very often because I’d rather have the viewer read their own narratives from my work.
2. What’s most inspiring to your working process?
There is nothing more inspiring to me than seeing other artists push themselves and develop their style while pushing the entire culture forward with every new discovery and progression. Artists like Dan Witz, Erik Jones, and Conor Harrington are just a few of the people whom I greatly admire and have watched constantly evolve over their careers. This ability to keep one’s work fresh and innovative is not easy and requires a lot of work and thought. It can be a bit torturous to watch other artists who I consider my contemporaries constantly raising the bar but in the end it’s the number one things that drives me to do the same in my work.
3. Have you any strange talents that influence the work you produce or the way you produce it?
I’m not sure if it’s a talent or a curse but I guess I have a strange inability to stop working on a painting until it looks… real. This can take days or sometimes weeks but anything short of perfection is just not an option. Of course perfection is a strong word and there’s always more that one can do on a painting and that can go on for a lifetime if you let it, but I seem to have a pretty high standard of what a “finished” piece looks like and until a painting hits that point, I just can’t stop working on it.
4. Which artist of the past would you resurrect to collaborate with and why?
That’s a really tough question. I’m really not so good with my art history but it would be a dream to spend some time working in one of the old 17th century Dutch Master studios. Back when those guys were perfecting the techniques and tools for using oil paint the way I try to use it today and before all of the stresses and pulls of modern day life. It would be nice to learn how to paint the right way instead of fumbling through each painting learning from my own mistakes like I tend to do at the moment.
5. Do you think your work is understood or misinterpreted and why?
My work is pretty ambiguous. There is plenty of information in my paintings for people to extract meaning from but that process is such an individual one that its hard to even imagine what another person would take away from my work. People’s impressions of art when they see it is based greatly on what they individually bring to the table. Their mood and past experiences play a huge role in how they receive a painting or a film or a sculpture and that’s what makes art so great. I have my own thoughts about my work when I make it but I don’t think I would expect or even want others to see it the same way as me. Painting a painting is like writing the beginning of a story which can only be finished by someone else when they view your finished work and the great thing is, no two stories are ever exactly the same.
6. If you could decorate one place in the world what would it be and how would you do it?
Actually… my apartment. My wife and I have been living there for about 4 years and still haven’t figured out what we’re doing with the walls.
7. What to date has been your ‘cherry on the cake’ moment and what was it that got you there?
After teaching art to teenagers in school for nearly a decade in America, I needed a change and decided to quit my job in the States, sell everything I owned, move to Berlin, and go full time as a painter. It was a very risky move and one that I’m still five years later not sure was a smart one financially but I have never been happier in my life and every day is an adventure. That is not something I could have said about my old life.
8. What we ask everyone! Does your artistic style influence your underwear?
I think a LOT about my work… I don’t think very much about my underwear.
More info www.jamesbullough.com @james_bullough
Images courtesy © James Bullough