This is the first in a series of artist interviews I’m doing in conjunction with Art of the State: Pennsylvania 2014. James Shott is a member of the PA Guild of Craftsmen whose work I have sold at the Guild store and who I have done shows with and connected with both online and off. His work is well-made, has a hint of humor in it sometimes and features loads of secret drawers where you can hide all sorts of treasures. You can find him online at the J.S.Shott website, on Facebook, and of course see his Flower Box piece at this year’s Art of the State at the State Museum in Harrisburg, Pa through September 14th.
1. How did you get started in your craft? (using your media)
I used to feel insecure about my training,but now in hindsight I can see how well it has served me. I had no formal training, but worked in three separate shops. First was a shop that made custom kitchen cabinets. Second was a mill shop that produced everything needed to build a house. And finally I was able to land a job in a shop that made fine reproduction 18th century furniture. That diverse training gave me the confidence to tackle just about anything that a customer would bring me. I worked in construction for 10 years while my wife, Kathy, and I started a family. All that time I was working on projects part time. Finally, in 1989 I was able to go full time.
2. What has been inspiring/influencing your work lately?
Mother Nature seems to be my guiding force these days.
3. Who are your favorite artists in your field?
In the legend department I was inspired with the work of both Edward Barnsley and James Krenov. Three of my contemporaries whom I’m always glad to see what they’re working on would be Ray Kelso, Paul Sirofchuck, and Jeff Lohr.
4. What is your favorite customer quote or story?
When I used to build reproduction furniture I would always have people come into my booth and say, “Oh, my grandfather used to make stuff like this.” Now the most common comment is, “Wow, I’ve never seen anything like this!”
5. What is your favorite piece of art or fine craft that you own?
I have inherited a small cherry wall cabinet that my grandfather, also a professional woodworker, built. But just as good as that, I have his tool box with all the tools he used to build it.