Artist of the Week: James Bouché

James Bouché (b. 1990) received his BFA from The Maryland Institute College of Art in 2012. He is currently living and working in Baltimore, MD.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I’m an artist in Baltimore. Monday through Friday I am also a printer at a custom t-shirt shop and on Sundays I am a fry cook for a mushroom stand at the farmers market.

What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I just finished a group show in Baltimore with Laura Judkis and Colin Schappi titled, xXx at Current Space. It was a show about post minimalism in BDSM culture. I also recently finished working on a print project for John Waters. It was on display at Marianne Boesky Gallery in NYC January 9th.

Currently I’m in the process of making a zine with Chicago based artist, Leah Mackin to be printed with Cantab Publishing and working on a two person show with my good friend, Ryan Syrell to open in Baltimore mid March.

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What is one of the bigger challenges you and/or other artists are struggling with these days and how do you see it developing? I can’t speak for anyone else, but being constantly bombarded with images on social media was, and still is, a huge challenge as an artist, both emotionally and conceptually. For a long time, I would scroll through Tumblr and look at a bunch of amazing work being made and not actually accomplish anything. I am slowly trying to discipline myself to not check anything before going to the studio and definitely not while I’m there.

That being said, I think that platforms like Tumblr put a lot things into context for artists. There’s an incredible amount of people making work right now and its important to think about what the global art community is working towards what your work is adding to the conversation.

How did your interest in art begin? Like many artists, I enjoyed drawing cartoons and portraits starting at a young age. During my third year of high school I realized I wasn’t really happy in the program I was in and decided to apply to the art magnet school in the area. I was lucky enough to get in and start immediately. There I was exposed to really amazing printmaking facilities, a sculptural welding class, and great digital printing equipment. It was only because of that I decided to pursue my BFA.

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What materials do you use in your work and what is your process like? My work has changed a lot in the past couple years. In school I did printmaking almost exclusively. I still have access to printing facilities now, but my focus has shifted to more material based 2-D objects and sculpture. I’m also actively trying to put myself in situations where I can react more intuitively while I’m working. I still have a good idea of what I want to make before I start a project, but I don’t really plan things down to a “T” anymore. I like to think its helping me to react better when things don’t go exactly how I anticipated and to have a better understanding of what I do and don’t like. It sounds dumb, but for a long time I didn’t have fun while I worked and now I’m a little less stressed and enjoy exploring materials.

I’ve been really into shipping materials and store supply objects recently. Things like cargo nets and ratchet straps really grab my attention, also retail display structures and slatwall hooks. I can’t stop thinking about Tripp pants lately so maybe that’s the connection.

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Tell us a joke. When I was 16 I convinced my parents to name my youngest brother Charles Xavier Bouché. At the time, they didn’t know that was the name of the telepathic mutant leader of the X-Men. Not sure if the joke is on me, them, or him though. I’m sorry Charlie.

What artists are you interested in right now? Recently I’ve been really into Piotr Lakomy, Cécile Dupaquier, and Nathan Hylden. Hermonie Only, John Bohl, and Alex Lukas have had a really heavy influence on my work.

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What’s your favorite thing about your city? The sense of community is really strong here. It doesn’t really feel competitive at all. Everyone is here to support and encourage each other. Also, the lack of a substantial market for art has a unique impact on the work being made right now. Almost every artist in Baltimore is producing just because they’re compelled to. There’s a really great energy and freedom that comes with that. Don’t get me wrong though, more people who would buy local art would be really great. It’s just nice to know that, for now, the work being made isn’t being driven and dictated directly by a market.

What is your snack/beverage of choice when working in your studio? Natty Boh and Spicy Street Taco Doritos.

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What do you do when you’re not working on art? I read. Not really about art or socially important things though. I’ve been reading and re-reading The Silmarillion for the past 9 months. It’s really amazing.

What are you listening to right now? I’ve always wished I was more passionate about collecting music. Unfortunately, I’m not. I have 10 songs on my phone right now and they are:

1. Going Under- Evanescence

2. Jolene – Dolly Parton

3. Desert Rose – Sting

4. Remember the Time – Michael Jackson

5. The Willing Well II: Fear Through The Eyes of Madness – Coheed and Cambria

6. Losing My Religion – R.E.M.

7. What Is Love – Haddaway

8. Charlotte Sometimes – The Cure

9. Believe – Cher

10. We Chill – Rapdragons

Rapdragons are really chill though.

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If you hadn’t become an artist what do you think you’d be doing? The summer before I started undergrad, I worked for a little with my uncle as a plumber on a construction site in San Diego. If school hadn’t worked out, my plan was to go back.