GET TO KNOW JAMES ZAMORA
Where were you born?
I was born in a smallish Texas town called Graham, “Home to the largest Courthouse square in America”
What did you study in school?
I studied painting in drawing for my undergraduate degree and went on to study painting for my Masters of Fine Art.
Did you always want to be an artist?
I had a struggle with art for most of my pre adult and early twenties. I liked art, but I knew I wasn’t good enough yet, but didn’t know how to get to my own standards. I eventually got to the level of discipline and maturity I needed in order to attain my standards of what is good for me, at the age of 23. That is when I really bore down on the training of painting. Although I did have an inclination to draw for most of my life, the true desire was finally exposed when I knew I wanted to overcome my own barriers, and truly obsess in the craft of painting.
Are you a full time artist?
I have to devote about 20-30 hours of painting a week to keep up with the workload that is presented to me with my galleries that show my work, and commissions that can pile up sometimes. So in a way, yes, I also currently teach Drawing at the University of North Texas where I live in Denton.
How has your style changed over time?
My first realization of loving art was the instance that someone could render a 3D object onto a 2D plane. I was hooked from there, and then discovering the Renaissance artists, the impressionists, and being exposed to abstract expressionists, I realized the act of painting itself was the source of my association with thoughts of beauty. My work in undergrad was first using my limited knowledge to create paintings in the genre of realism. Then the work changed into a more Bay Area Figurative influence in my last year of my time as an undergraduate. Leaving school I was super drawn to the German Abstract Expressionists and used photographic references as an inspiration source to create AbEx paintings. After doing many pictures in that style, I felt like I really needed to hone in on discipline in order to achieve the recognition I desired. So for two years I practiced in the genre of Photorealism. I tried really hard to push myself to become the best I could be with each painting. I still use some of the techniques I learned while working in Photorealism in my more recent work. Presently, I really like the idea of making something feel like it is, instead of look how it is. This is achieved with my appreciation for how paint can be sculpted into the form instead of painted like it looks in reality. This explanation is really obvious in my Floral paintings, and that is why I started doing them. To really expose that way of thinking, making it feel like it looks, not rendering how it looks. It is kind of tricky. I’m using this way of thinking in my recent work. I have new a new body of work that really exploits this thought, in a more abstract/surrealist way. I’m excited about it, and it is quite new.
How have the city or cities you’ve lived in affected your art?
I’ve always liked pushing against the grain. And a lot of the work that I was exposed to in the DFW area seemed to be sort of satirical, and to some level, political. In some cases just outright offensive, or ugly. Not offensive to me, because my humor can be somewhat “edgy” haha, but in general, that is what I’ve noticed. And for me, beauty is complex enough to keep me busy for a lifetime. So against the grain for my area is looking at beauty in many different ways and understanding the nuances of beauty.
Where do you find inspiration?
I use instagram, podcasts, and Christianity. I also really like specific areas of Art History; from the heavy handed German Abstract Expressionists, to the whispers of calligraphic Non-Objective paintings by Asian artists, and the beautiful rendering of atmosphere by the Naturalists.
How will art save the world?
I think it’d be overly confident to say that art could save the world, and slightly misconstrued. In most ways art needs saving itself, as with other broken things in this world. Works of art can definitely point a person/people to what matters the most in the viewers life and find purpose, but as an entirety, Art could not do that alone.