The enormous popularity of award-winning artist Jim Shore is the result of a lifetime of dedication, inspiration and plain old hard work. And as with most successful people, some good fortune has played a part. As Jim puts it, 'Art is something I’ve done all my life. It’s what I’ve always loved and the only thing I ever wanted to do. But making a living as an artist isn’t easy. There are thousands of talented people out there that never got the chance to show what they can do. I’ve been lucky. Not only do I get to do what I love, I get to share it with people around the world. I’ve been given a tremendous gift and I thank God for it every day.'
Jim Shore grew up in rural South Carolina, the son of artistic parents who instilled a love of the traditional imagery of American folk art. His grandmother was a master quilter who taught him an appreciation for the patience and skill required to bring intricate designs to life. Jim drew inspiration from these roots. 'There’s an innocence, a purity in the designs found in early American art, particularly in quilts. These were masterpieces designed by artists driven to create. I collect quilts dating back over 150 years and when I look at the level of skill and creativity I am constantly amazed. It's high art from every day, often humble surroundings.' Initially Jim pursued his art where and when he could. He studied and received a degree in engineering, not art. He supported his young family as an engineer, honing his skills as a sculptor and painter in his spare time.
DNexus, Belgium, 2019
But Jim's passion was his art and after several false starts and financial setbacks he founded his own business, Designs Americana, to manufacture and market his designs. It was tough going in the beginning. 'We went to our first show with just a few pieces and no real plan for how we’d ship any orders we got,' Jim recalls, 'We didn’t have a factory or a warehouse or a staff. It was pretty much a wish in one hand and hope in the other. Luckily we made the right contacts and it all worked out.' Within three years Designs Americana had over 350 employees and more orders than they could fill. In fact, the demands of managing Designs Americana made it difficult for Jim to concentrate on his art. 'I needed to focus exclusively on the creative and artistic elements of my work, and that meant finding the right business partner to handle the three piece suit side of the things.' There was no better partner than Enesco, a worldwide leader in marketing gifts, collectables and decorative accessories. In 2001 Jim and Enesco entered an agreement to create Heartwood Creek by Jim Shore, the line of folk-art inspired accessories that has brought him world-wide fame.
While working with Enesco Jim perfected his unique style, combining elements of folk art with a vibrant colour pallet applied to traditional themes. To Jim Santa Claus isn’t just a character, he’s a canvas to be painted. Taking designs derived from quilting, rosemaling, appliqué and flat perspective folk art, Jim creates an authentic new works of art rooted in a shared heritage dating back generations. 'I can’t imagine myself ever tiring of this,' Jim says of his distinctive combination of themes and motifs, 'I create multiple designs within each new piece, a combination of basic structure and elements that keep the eye and mind moving. It creates an energy that keeps me inspired.'
A central element of Jim’s popularity is based on his successful partnership with Disney. Jim's unique design style applied to iconic Disney characters has made Disney Traditions by Jim Shore one of the most successful co-branded lines in the gift and home decor industry worldwide. 'I’m extremely proud of my association with Disney,' Jim says of the relationship. 'I can’t think of a more important name in popular culture, it’s a privilege to be linked with that kind of tradition.' Disney Traditions by Jim Shore has sold more than $250 million at retail and can be also found at Disney parks and fine retailers throughout Europe, Australia, North America and Asia.
Today Jim personally designs each piece of his Heartwood Creek and Disney Traditions collections while working on innovative new creative directions and formats. His latest projects include an exciting new collaboration featuring the beloved characters from Wizard of Oz, and collections drawn from popular culture icons including Dr Seuss and The Grinch. Jim’s latest creation, the lovable and insightful characters Button and Squeaky, is a whimsical look at everyday life that has led Jim to a new direction as a children’s book author. It's a heavy creative load, augmented with a travel schedule that includes personal appearances all over the world. 'I thrive on the diversity,' says Jim. 'And I love what I do. But the most rewarding thing I do is get out and meet the people I work for, people that share an enthusiasm for what I do. For an artist there is no higher compliment.'
Awards for internationally acclaimed artist Jim Shore include:
ICON HONORS Lifetime Achievement Award 2014
NALED Christmas Décor of the Year 2004 and 2005
NALED Christmas Collectible of the Year 2003 and 2005
NALED Artist of the Year 2003, 2004 and 2005NALED Rising Star 2002
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