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I am James Williams,
a designer

Illuminated Octopus is my archive and portfolio.

» Portfolio Highlight PDF

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self portrait of james williams in a mirror with the text ¿es usted feliz? at the top
Self portrait in Alfredo Jaar's Dark Side of the Moon at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago de Chile

I design things, photograph things, occasionally print or paint things. The photographs, prints, and paintings are typically of inanimate objects or places. Rarely people, but more often of late a dog, cats, and chickens. But mostly things like parking structures, doors, manhole covers, and other things discovered walking old and new places.

I am currently the Director of Design and Technology at the Birmingham Museum of Art.

As a child I could be found drawing or playing with Legos. Not surprisingly, being a bright kid, I was tracked into advanced math and science classes in middle school, coinciding with my last art class for some time. Fortunately, in my last semester of high school I took a photography class to fill an unexpected gap in my schedule. I proved to have a natural aptitude for composition and a long standing hobby was born.

Fast forward less than a year and I was a disgruntled engineering major. Though I loved math and science, well, at least the science part, I found that honors physics and calculus III were not the way I wanted to spend my professional life. A deep inspection of the course handbook returned a number of classes offered in photography, or at least tangentially related to photography. And those tangentially related to photography were in the visual communications curriculum.

Finding the 40th anniversary edition of Communication Arts in the university bookstore sealed my fate. It reminded me of the interests I had as a child, defining them actually. By the next semester I was a graphic design major. Since then I've enjoyed a career ranging from small agency work through the non-profit arts sector.