“My humble studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I moved here 6 years ago after returning from a short time living upstate. This is the smallest studio I have had in years, I thought I’d only be here for a year or two, but I like the neighborhood, the light is good and I can park my truck on the street. We used to have two motorcycles parked in the studio, but a modicum of success drove them out. I don’t have any collections, I like to travel light and don’t like to dust. The studio is more of a combination garage and kitchen– with some workspace thrown in. I like the adage, “The more you know, the less you need.”
James Victore runs an independent design studio hell-bent on world domination. He is an author, designer, filmmaker and firestarter. He continually strives to make work that is sexy, strong and memorable; work that tows the line between the sacred and the profane. His paintings of expressionist designs can be seen on ceramics, surfboards, billboards and supermodels. Recently described as “part Darth Vader, part Yoda,” Victore is widely known for his timely wisdom and impassioned views about design and it’s place in the world. He expresses these views and teachings through his numerous lectures, workshops, and writings. James’ work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and is represented in the permanent collections of the museums around the globe. His clients include Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, Esquire Magazine, Moet Chandon, Yohji Yamamoto and The New York Times. His work was recently published in a monograph titled, Victore or, Who Died and Made You Boss? Victore teaches at the School of Visual Arts in NYC. He lives, loves and works in Brooklyn.
FROM YOUR DESKS: How do you work?
JAMES VICTORE: My process is to sit at my table and work and play on the subject at hand until I can get to a point where I make myself laugh. I try to get to a point so far out and goofy that no one else would even think to go.
FYD: What is your favorite sentimental object at your workspace and why?
JV: I try not to be too attached to “things,” but if I knew there was to be a fire here tomorrow, I would probably move out all the art made by my son and friends.
I find we get more and better thinking done outside of the studio.
FYD: What is your favorite or most required work tool?
JV: Silly answer: my brain. I like to think that we work in an intellectual field, so that the visuals can be completely simple and the idea is the thing that stands out.
FYD: It seems as if red ink plays a starring role in your work?
JV: I never ask that question of myself. I just like red, and pink and bright orange. And if an idea works in black and white, I don’t need to decorate it.
If I knew there was to be a fire here tomorrow, I would probably move out all the art made by my son and friends.
FYD: How do you stay efficient and on message?
JV: I am very organized. My mom always said that a good day starts the night before. So, I make a list, plan my day and “do today’s work today.” As far as being “on message” I’m not sure I ever am. Maybe that comes from just trying to be myself.
FYD: How does one stay relevant without following the latest trends or what deems fashionable and “cool?”
JV: Fashion comes and goes. I just do my work and try not to follow fashion.
FYD: Is the message to trust your gut and screw what the other guy is doing?
JV: Fuck yes. Nobody else determines my destiny, only I decide my fate.
FYD: I loved your surfboard. Are you a surfer (as in a water guy) or more of a land guy?
JV: I’m more of a motocross guy. I surf, but I’m not a “surfer.” I do like painting the smooth surface of surfboards or ceramics or supermodels, though.
FYD: Did any early films (of the Brando, Newman, McQueen era) float your boat?
JV: Hell yes. I come from the great era of movie tough guys. Paul Newman in “Cool Hand Luke” or Clint Eastwood in … anything, McQueen and his Fastback in “Bullitt.” Robert Duvall, Lee Marvin, and Director Sam Peckinpah, when I was a kid I wanted to be these guys.
FYD: You are either a Newman or McQueen guy. I’m Newman — based solely on his performance with McQueen in “Towering Inferno.”
JV: If I had to choose, McQueen. He’s a racer. He said, “Racing is life… everything before and after is just waiting.”
Nobody else determines my destiny, only I decide my fate.
FYD: What goes on outside the office; can you feed us a typical non-work Victore day?
JV: I wake early to read or study. I try to run or exercise everyday. Right now I am reading a great book called “Willpower” by Baumeister and Tierney. I read a lot of psych, social and self-help books. My assistant comes in around 10:30, we sometimes have an intern or two. We usually go out to lunch a few days a week. I find we get more and better thinking done outside of the studio. The work day rarely lasts longer than 5 or 6. If we are working at 7 it’s a late night. I spend lots of time with my wife and son, although he is in high school now and has a life of his own (boo hoo). My only outside hobby is a fight class in Krav Maga.
FYD: Your pal Paul Sahre wanted to know why you were drinking a NA beer at your birthday.
JV: I was drinking NA beer because I am in training for a belt in my fight class.
FYD: Does NA beer even come close in taste to real beer?
JV: Nah, I’ll be back the real thing soon.
FYD: 2012 Mantra?
JV: Dumb and dumberer. This year we just move forward and do what we want without too much thinking.