JAMES "HIYME" BRUMMETT OF JWB STUDIOS
Houston based James "Hiyme" Brummett is constantly working with different mediums from textiles and dyes to wood and steel. His studio is a controlled chaotic scene of work benches, painted evil eyes, books, and unformed metals waiting to be crafted into an expression. We caught up with James and photographer Max Burkhalter at JWB Studios to shoot some of Reserve Supply's new summer stock and were let in on James's past, works, and drive.
James tells us that the studio flooded with two feet of water when hurricane Harvey hit and that he was still getting things back in order, but that can't shake a guy shaped by struggle. He had a hard-knock upbringing. He moved around a lot as a kid and by the time he was fifteen he was no longer living with his parents and only had himself to rely on. He had started painting young and in his late teens decided to leave Houston. He attended NYU and the San Francisco Art Institute but felt the need “to go searching for something". The search took him to Europe, and North Africa and he had studios from Berlin to Tribeca for some years. While in New York he started working more on furniture and design concept. James began to paint and build furniture, crafting objects that married art and function. James then moved back to Houston, and after a brief lull in creating, he began JWB studios.
It was here in Houston that he met his future wife, Alexandra. They were married in May of 2016. A week after their wedding, Alex was diagnosed with cancer. They sold painted evil eyes to raise money for Alex's treatment and were hand dying scarves, caftans, and throw pillows to sell at Sultana's Daughter, the shop that Alex owned and where she continued to work during treatment. This spun into their new joint brand Positive Healing Vibes, a project that continually helped them through the not always positive reality. Alex has been in remission for almost a year now and the both of them are retooling the brand that brought them to the other side of recovery.
James can't just do one thing. He paints, he builds furniture, and he works with steel and other metals. He taught himself how to weld four years ago and has introduced it into his other works and mediums. He says the challenge and excitement comes from not knowing what something will turn out to be and even when it is finished, it's not unusual for him to go back and rework minor details. James's work tends to stem from personal experiences from a past full of struggles, happiness and travels. "If you come in here and say 'that sucks' that hurts you know?" he tells us. He understands the business side of the art world in that a finished work needs to resonate with people and garner a positive response, though this process does not come without second guessing. There are days when he doesn't want to go to the studio, there are days he doesn't want to create, and there are days that self doubts are louder than usual, but that is all part of it he says. He is still going to show up on Monday and some new creation will begin to take shape. The process is for him, the finished product is for you.
There are artists and there are working artists. James "Hiyme" Brummett is a working artist. That's not to say that he is constantly commissioned and selling art to exclusively wealthy collectors and rubbing elbows with eccentrics, though he is constantly on the grind and working at something that will sustain the spirit of an artist and the mind of a mover. The days of collectors and eccentrics are not far off.