James Fox is a macro photographer who invites viewers into small, beautiful places with vivid and emotional abstract photography. James specialises in using flowing pigments in resin to create intricate and atmospheric pieces that the viewer may immerse themselves in and reflect on the art and beauty of small things.
James, thank you for taking time to be with us. I am intrigued by your work in the context of art photography. Did you study art or photography at sometime earlier in your career?
I did not study photography but I did study graphic design and computer animation. I have found though, that the skills and fundamentals I learned in those fields have greatly benefited and influenced my photography. Things like colour theory, composition studies and all of the elements and principles of art and design really lend themselves well across the spectrum of the visual arts.
Viewers of your work may be surprised to learn that you do not use the computer input of various filters, procedural algorithms and other modulators to enter your work. Your purely photographic approach, besides the use of a digital camera and some minor tweaking of colour and staking photos, is more in the essence of pure straight photography with a unique sense of abstraction and equivalence.
When looking at some of your images one would think they are a combination of 3D work and optical flow algorithms. You do sometimes create 3D models, print them, and incorporate them into what you are shooting. You create beautiful images in the digital domain and sell them as crypto art, i.e., NFTs.
Please tell me more about your approach to making digital art, what motivates you and captures your attention or imagination. How do these interact and relate to each other? Do you sometimes feel that there is a collaborator working with you in the process?
Fantastic question. My approach to creating is to first be as open as I can to everything I experience. It is very human to judge and compartmentalise things and to try to make sense of them, but if you can experience things without those filters so many thoughts and ideas can potentially become available. I take a very abstract approach and I find that letting things bubble up from the subconscious mind is a great practice for pure creativity. Once you have an idea or vision that resonates with you, of course you have to steer the ship a little to bring it to a tangible state. I have a whole process that involves modelling and 3D printing, and meticulously setting up shots, but the more open and less rigid I’m able to be, the stronger my work is and the more satisfaction I get from creating it.
In regards to motivation, it is purely set in the act of creating something, that is the factor that feels real to me. It is nice having a finished piece that I’m proud of but it is the act of creating in itself which is absolutely the driving force. When I was first discovering my creative process I noticed early on that when I wasn’t actively creating something or at least thinking or planning on something to create, I felt quite restless, so it’s always about the act of creating. I also think that it is wise to find contentment with one’s art or craft with as little outside influence as possible.
Of course, it is always a pleasure to have your work admired or enjoyed because it creates a connection with the viewer, and feeling your work is validated in some sense can be pleasurable even if it’s based on our ego, but if you never had anyone say anything nice about your work or no one ever saw it, would you still be motivated to create it? If the answer is yes, then I think that is a very healthy place to be, artistically speaking.
As for what captures my attention and imagination, potentially anything, because I try my best to be very open with what’s around me and what I am experiencing. This could be art and media I consume, emotions or conflicts I’m experiencing, or even people I meet. I try to let these experiences be what they are and not try to commandeer for my own artistic purposes, and what ends up happening is that all of these experiences intertwine and percolate and an idea for a piece eventually rises to the surface.
I do find that visually I am attracted to contrasting elements and ideas. I find the things that resonate the most with me are pieces of art and ideas that are not so much fixed in their subject or message, but things that are open and have room for multiple interpretations or ways of perceiving them which I feel is more attuned with the human experience. This feeds my imagination because it usually gets me asking myself “What If?” type questions and then so many doors open up for different thoughts and ideas.
In regards to a collaborator, that’s a very fascinating way of thinking about it and I suppose it feels to me like everything is collaborating with my work to some degree. That may sound a little “New Age” but because I try to be open with everything, it all ends up mixing and flowing and eventually makes its way to a finished piece. That’s a great question, I’ll be thinking about that for a while.
Some artist believe that being open, reflexible and responsive to their muse is the basis of their art and that they are channels or collaborators in that process. Many of your images have a very ‘subconscious’ feel to them. I’m curious, what has been the audience response Vs the critics response to your art?
I have been very fortunate in that regard. People have been very supportive of my work and very kind as well. I actually haven’t had any negative experiences with the audience that sees my work or with critics. I have a somewhat unique style which I can imagine is not to everyone’s taste, nothing ever is to everyone’s liking, but perhaps I’m fortunate enough that those who may feel negatively about my work are just too kind to point it out to me, haha.
I will say my biggest critic is probably my partner, as she won’t hesitate to tell me when one of my pieces makes her “feel weird” or if it evokes discomfort which is not actually a criticism per se, due to the nature of some of my work, but I can always tell when she really likes something I’ve done and any honest opinion can be very valuable.
Many artist have felt road blocked by the traditional route of selling their art through galleries. You have been quite successful with your NFT sells. What is your response to an established art world which appears biased towards art done by the artist hand?
That is something that I don’t think about very often, maybe to my detriment, I usually just keep my head down and work, but I think there are factors that have been in place for a while but now are starting to shift with NFT’s. I myself feel somewhat in between the two worlds being a photographer. Of course there is such a long, long history of traditional art that is ingrained in us, it’s in the fabric of our culture. With that comes a lot of rigid ideologies and opinions about what is true art, or what art has more value, mainly because those ideas have been established or accepted by many for a very long time.
I think doors are opening up and many more people are realising that art is the expression, not the medium, and I think a lot of new people are appreciating that expression because it is exciting and energetic and inspiring. That’s not to say that the traditional arts are not equally valuable to me, because they are, it’s just that these newer mediums are art as well, and now we are starting to make room for them. That’s the way I feel about it, I’m in no way an authority on the matter and I’ve never felt very comfortable holding rigged ideologies, I just hope that more people focus on and celebrate the creation of art itself and be open to it, regardless where it comes from.
I do too. James, thank you so much fro taking time to share your thoughts with us.