Throughout his life, James has straddled different worlds and cultures, the classics and pop culture, abstract and realistic art. All these varied influences come through in his paintings. He works primarily with realism, but always with a consciousness of the abstract just beneath the surface.
Subject matter varies widely, from vibrant tropical and rocky northeastern landscapes and seascapes, to large, expressive floral paintings. Though every painting is unique, running throughout is a keen sense of light and shadow, color and design.
James’ paintings are emotional. His years as an illustrator have taught him to communicate clearly and powerfully in visual terms. The paintings catch the viewer’s attention, but then have lasting interest as they unfold over time.
James Griffin is a prolific illustrator and a tireless fine artist – and he refuses to draw a line between the two forms of expression. Working primarily in oils, he creates his paintings quickly without overthinking or second-guessing.
– Marty Fugate, Herald-Tribune July 30, 2016
For over 40 years James Griffin’s art has graced the covers of books around the world. Ranging from Romance to Mysteries to Young Adult to Modern Fiction, as one of the most prominent illustrators in the field, his work has sold millions of books.
James was a child of the international world, growing up in Canada, United States, Peru, Brazil and England. His years in London in particular were very influential, being exposed to the great span of art history up to the emergence of pop art of the 1960s. He absorbed a fusion of cultures from the Beatles, to the High Andes to Tropical Brazil, to Norman Rockwell’s ‘apple pie’ America, the Beach Boys and the Hippie years of peace and protest.
He took to art at a very young age and when he found out there was such a thing as a professional artist, he turned his passion to it and never looked back. He poured over Saturday Evening Post covers, Sears Roebuck catalogs, comic books, Gustave Dore’s engravings for the Divine Comedy and any other art book he could find.
It was in London where he really came face to face with great art in person. He soaked up Monet, Bonnard Turner and DaVinci. London was also teeming with new artistic ideas. For instance, the first Pop Art exhibition was held there in the early 1960s, where James encountered the brash work of Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol and James Rosenquist.
James graduated from Pratt Institute with a BFA in 1972. He is currently represented by art galleries in Florida and Michigan.
See more of James’ work in the Virtual Art Gallery
99.9% of the artwork in my home is my own, including some large-scale paintings. When we had to take them down for renovations, the space felt lonely, the walls looked sad. When they were up again it felt cheerful, lived in – full of personality. Artwork is so transforming.
– James Griffin