Artist Spotlight Series: Allison James

Art cures what ails you. It can uplift your spirit too!

The latest feature in my Artist Spotlight Series certain does that with her vivacious and vibrant works. 

Enjoy getting to know

Allison James

Atlanta, Georgia

What is your training?

I’ve been painting and drawing my entire life. I feel so lucky to say that as a fact. From art competitions and classes growing up to AP Art courses throughout high school, it’s always been the source of my vitality. I was always drawing, always the art kid. My parent knew it would be my career one day. And luckily, my art teacher Cathy Heller was a SCAD graduate and pushed me to pursue art as my major in college. So in 2013 I graduated with my BFA in Painting, Drawing and Printmaking from Georgia Southern learning from some of the most incredible professors. I also took numerous typography, ceramic, art history classes. I couldn’t get enough. My professors were so talented (graduates of Yale, SFAI, RISD, Cornell, NYU… insane) so I really lucked out. Needless to say, with a lifetime of painting and 10 years seriously DOING this thing, I continue to train and learn every single day. That’s the beauty of what we do!

 What inspires you and your designs?

I have a laundry list of where I draw my inspiration from but the ones I constantly come back to are street style, interior design, graffiti, conversations, my past, and always finding a balance between grit and femme. I want my work to be like everyday people… beautiful at first glance but when you take a step closer, you see there is so much more depth to the story and even some not-so-pretty parts. I’m always working on building up my color bank. I paint completely from the subconscious, no sketches, no color pairings around. It’s the most raw that way. Everything I paint is an action and then a reaction… an assessment and a solution. Once it stops buzzing I know it’s complete.

What is your favorite piece?

My favorite painting is a piece I did a few years back called Birthday Cake. It symbolized the biggest shift in my work. Kind of like a ‘coming into my own’ party as far as my painting goes. I wasn’t afraid of color anymore after making that piece. I was brainwashed to think only ‘safe art’ sold. So I finally decided to say f#*$ it and I haven’t looked back since.


How has the area you live influenced your work?

I’ve been in Atlanta since 2015 and it’s already changed so much… it’s exploding. There’s inspiration and success around every corner. The energy of the city just makes you want to BE BETTER for it. I’m proud to be a part of this community. There is so much talent here.


What is your favorite restaurant in Atlanta?

Always and forever Cooks & Soldiers. It’s where I go to celebrate everything from anniversary’s to parents being in town to having a free Saturday night with my friends! If you see me there, come say hi.


 What is your favorite cocktail?

Dirty martini with Tito’s, extra dirty, extra dry. And extra big if it’s been a long week.

How do you balance personal life and work?

Agh. I don’t? I try to. It’s definitely gotten easier to manage as time has gone on. You have to find your flow, you know? And you have to learn that sending an email out at 8pm when you’re hanging out with your husband isn’t going to make or break anything. So just put the computer down and let it go! I’m also a perfectionist and control freak so… we’re working on things in 2020! My assistant helps take the load off and I’m so grateful for her. It’s all baby steps.

Dream trip?

Greece. Doesn’t everyone say Greece? I’ve always wanted to go ever since I saw Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. No shame. I think the contrast of color and constant smell of the salt would be good for me. Lots of blue and white paintings would come out of that trip (and who doesn’t like that?)

Dream commission?

Cortney Bishop, Kate Pearce, Mallory Mathison… there are so many designers I’d love to work with. So much female talent.


 Your favorite host / hostess gift to give?

A nice bottle of wine. My favorite is Katherine Goldschmit but Block Nine and Meiomi are my more readily-available favorites.


Who is your style icon?

So many. Emili Sindlev,

Amy Smilovic, Mary Lawless Lee, Harry Styles, Diane Keaton.


Your favorite up and coming artist?

Libby Baxter out of Greenville, SC. She’s a textile artist and EVERYONE needs to have her on their radar.

What is your most treasured possession?

My engagement ring. My sweet husband designed it and our matching wedding bands.


What are you reading?

I’m working on re-reading 3 books right now, actually. On Writing by Stephen King.

It’s been really transformative to my creative approach. You’re a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero which is always laying around somewhere.

And The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. If you haven’t read this last one, you need to. It will change your life.

What are you listening to?

My SOUNDS OF THE STUDIO playlists that I put out each month. February’s playlist is the best one yet – Fleetwood Mac, Fleet Foxes, Ellie Goulding and Frank Ocean.

What are your favorite blogs / publications?

Can I say my own?? (Kidding. But JAMES SAID brings me so much joy to write!) I’m actually not big on blogs unless they’re food blogs. Maybe because I write my own and time is already so limited. But I do listen to a lot of podcasts and am launching my own podcast later this year. My favorites to binge in the studio are KINZCOWORLD, And That’s Why We Drink, TED Talks, Life is Short and This American Life.


Follow Allison on her website, Instagram, and the galleries that represent her. 



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