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James Pouliot

Artist Spotlight

James Pouliot di Lombardia is an American artist & photographer living in Paris, France and Napoli, Italy. While his photography work has been featured in international fashion publications such as a Vogue and L’Officiel, the self-taught artist uses his painting to explore both nature and consumer culture. His still life studies are described as “academic pop-art” and juxtapose traditional methods of painting with contemporary and often disposable subject matter. His landscapes on the other hand, breathe a sense of escapism -  they export the viewer to sandy beaches laced with palm trees swaying in the wind.



Q. Did you always want to be an artist?

A. I always was an artist, even if I did not realize. When I was young, I loved to draw and paint and was like a magnet to anything artistic. When I was around 12 years old the teacher asked us what historical figure we would have dinner with; every boy in the class said Babe Ruth and I answered Leonardo di Vinci.  When I was a teenager, I was more involved in performing arts: singing, acting, dancing, and teaching myself the piano were a few of my teenage hobbies. In my adult life I have reverted back to my younger child self with visual arts. If we have multiple lives I would love to come back as a ballerino. I love that mix of artistry and athleticism.

Q. Could you tell us a bit about your process?

A. It's hard to describe, but I just jump into painting. I start really messy and work into the details. This is why I work with acrylic because it dries so fast and I can paint layers upon layers upon layers. I see oil painters that paint with two layers and I'm shocked. I don't want to think that much before I put a color on the canvas, I just want to make mistakes and cover them in 15 minutes if I don't like them. Sometimes though, those mistakes are new discoveries. If I was mixing the perfect colors and values before I painted though, I wouldn't discover those things. 

Q. Could you describe your state of mind when painting?

A. I have to put everything else to the side and focus to be serious about painting consistently. That is one of the joys because it is like entering a doorway into another world. Your real world consists of administration work, visas, electricity bills, but your painting world is just color and light and it is such a beautiful place to go.

Q. How has your work evolved over time – has it been a gradual process or rather rapid developments?

A. It has been both gradual and rapid at the same time. When I first got into visual arts, I started to do photography at the same time I started to draw and illustrate. However, like many people that love the arts, I was just dabbling and didn't really have a solid foundation or consistent program. After years of undisciplined hobby illustration and drawing, I decided to get serious and once I applied the theories of classical atelier drawing and painting to my studies, I made huge leaps of progress in a really short time.

Q. Does your work as a photographer influence your painting?

A. YES! Not only the practice of taking the photos but often when I'm painting I think of photoshop. Manipulating the shadows, highlights, contrast, erasing errors, and adjusting light is a process that both painting and photo editing share. Sometimes when I'm painting I think of myself as a very slow version of photoshop which is really funny because obviously painting is the older discipline. The process of painting in layers is a process that I basically started in photoshop years ago.

Q. Do you listen to specific music when working?

A. Yes, I listen to a lot of music and I'm obsessed at the moment with Lo-Fi music mixed with classic music and mixed with old world standards. I love atmospheric music and I love dramatic movie scores from artists like Alexandre Desplat and Abel Korzeniowski. This all sounds like a mess but it meshes quite well and I have the playlists to prove it!

Q. Has social media had an impact on your artistic practice?

A. For good and for bad. I'm very careful about what I look at and who I follow, and I'm also aware it puts a pressure on me to only publish things I know will get likes and shares. However it can open so many doors and inspire at the same time. I think seeing other artists succeed on Instagram pushed me a lot. I just love seeing what other artists are doing and I'm really impressed and inspired by them.

Q. What would you like your work to evoke in the viewer?

A. Depends on the piece but if a piece helps me escape the bad news cycle, maybe it could do the same for someone else. At the moment, I think there is enough emphasis on the negative; let's not lose sight of the simple pleasures that greet us throughout the day. In all our lives we are balancing a lot of information. We need to be informed and educated for progress to be made but also to come back to a place of peace in order to sleep at night.


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