Emerging Artist Sloppy James

Sloppy James is an emerging artist and beginning freelance designer, poet, and writer.  He makes art to be happy.  He lives to create engaging works that have never been attempted before.  

Tucked away in his slightly cramped studio in RVA, he knows that there is not enough time for all the ideas.

When did you start working as an artist?

I’ve always been working on something creative throughout my life (starting with endless illustrations as a youth, and then I moved heavily into photography during my 20’s).  Around 2001 after a poetry-phase, I started getting into collage as my medium of choice.

You state you are an emerging artist, what was your background prior to this?
I was working for Children’s Services in San Francisco when I started collage, but this medium was taking over my life, and the only thing I wanted to do at that time was to get deeper into collage.

Around 2006 I moved to Canada (Montreal) to dedicate myself to learning this craft. The move was extreme, but I wanted to be in a place where I didn’t know anyone, and I could spend my time solely working on collage.  I got an art studio and spent about 12 to 17 hours (every day) working and studying different techniques. 

Is the sculpture-collage provided typical of the work you do, or do you have a variety of styles? 
I think I definitely have a style, but I’m not tied to it – I can create in any style.   My style though was born from the ‘Mission School’ movement that was taking place in San Francisco in the ’90s and early 2000s.  ‘Mission School’ is an urban, graffiti-esque, bohemian street style.  But regardless of style(s), primarily I just want to do something that’s different from anyone else’s, and I want to work on projects that might blow my own mind.

My collage-sculptures are one-of-a-kind as far as I know, and I’d like to show that there are other ways to work on collage, and there are other stories to tell within this medium. Someone once told me that my collage-sculptures were actually assemblage and not sculpture, but I disagreed because I didn’t merely gather and assemble items. I folded, bent, crumpled, and sculpted paper and flower petals into what was desired.

With my bottle ‘That the sky is above us, even when we do not see it’ (image shown), I want to show that sculpture can be just as strong, beautiful and daring even when it is delicate and fragile. 

As a poet, writer and artist, do you have a poem that accompanies your sculptural-collage work?
I usually add words and small poems to my works to help convey the stories. 

I’m currently working on tiny dioramas about wartime rape, and I’m gathering the words that hopefully will bring a better understanding to what is happening, and make the impact of the dioramas that much stronger.

Can you tell us more about your pseudonym, Sloppy James, and why you go by that?
I started using the moniker ‘sloppy james‘ around 2002.  It started as a joke over dinner – my friend was making vegetarian Sloppy Joe, and I said something like “this really isn’t Sloppy Joe, it’s more like sloppy james.”   A few days later I used the name with a poetry project I had just finished.

For me, because I’m so borderline obsessive about the quality and content of my work, the pseudonym ‘sloppy james‘ is more of an off-kilter oxymoron than anything else, but at the same time, since I work in different mediums, I’ve found that the name helps bring all my projects together.

Image copyright Sloppy James. Text and Image provide by the artist. Title of the work:
 ‘That The Sky Is Above Us, Even When We Do Not See It’

Learn more about the artist through his blog: http://sloppyjames.tumblr.com/

See more of his work: https://sbaustin.carbonmade.com/