While art has always been a part of his life, James’ path from drawing in a sketchbook as a child to becoming an artist has been anything but linear. With detours to earn a degree in sound engineering from Colombia College Chicago, work as a bartender, and doing some commercial illustration, he began designing and developing websites professionally in 1994. As a counterbalance to the technical nature of his day job, James reconnected with his passion for artistic expression, honing his skills by taking classes at area art centers. Originally focused on working with pastels, he met his so-called “mid-life crisis” by challenging himself as a painter. He began with landscapes and plein air painting (for which he won 3rd place in a local competition). But the shift to this different medium also triggered experimentation in his art, including original compositions revealing a strong graphic design influence as well as the darker side of his vision. Skull imagery emerged as a recurring motif after taking a drawing class focused on the anatomy and structure behind the human face and body.