Jimmy's Wild Ride
Jimmy Pickering’s life didn’t exactly start out as an E-ticket ride.
“I lived in a mobile home park or ‘mobile estate’ as a kid, in a beautiful bright yellow single-wide which burned down in ’77. After that my parents and two older sisters and I lived in a camp trailer for five months, after which we moved up to a double-wide at a new trailer park,” says Jimmy.
After graduating high school, tired of the world of shag carpeting and fake paneling, Jimmy began his ascent at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia studying film and character animation. Shortly after graduation he landed at Disney Imagineering as a show designer.
“I did design for theme park attractions at Disneyland in Anaheim, Orlando and Tokyo, working with a small group of artists, set designers, merchandisers. We created enhancements for existing attractions. I was color stylist, which I really enjoyed. But after five years I was totally burned out. There was no time for my own creativity.”
Jimmy and his partner Troy interviewed and were hired at Hallmark in Kansas City, Mo. “It was the complete opposite of what I had just done. We were in what they called Creative Career Development, a position that had you rotate through all the different divisions to help light little fires. In the end they couldn’t really figure out where to put me. They tried me in different divisionsalternative, traditional, shoebox.”
After almost three years at Hallmark Jimmy’s ride took another turn. “I was on vacation in Seattle and happened across this little coffee house. The interior was full of big gears and other interesting stuff and I was totally excited by the creativity.” A call from an old friend working for a small theme park company put him back on track and he eventually ended up working for Universal Studios, where he became the art director for their Port Adventura park in Spain.
While working for Universal, Jimmy did his first illustration show. “I would go into a gallery and show them my work and they would want to know where else I had shown and I had to tell them nowhere. So Troy and I started looking at some resources, people we had worked with around Southern California, and found a spot at the North Hollywood Art Center, a place that looked like a set from Batman.” His first show, Ghouls, Fools and an Octopus, was a huge success and Jimmy sold all but two paintings.
“Opening night was the most amazing thing I had experienced. It was packed from opening to closing and all these people wanted to talk to me. It was the weirdest thing. That’s what started the whole illustration thing. ‘Til that point I had only done corporate work and the rest was just doodles that I thought no one would care about. After the show a gallery in L.A. wanted to show the two paintings I had left.”
Jimmy had made a connection with a small publisher in L.A. because he wanted to do a book. “A friend of mine, Scott Allen from Disney, ended up writing it, I illustrated and Troy project-managed the whole thing. Somethin’ Pumpkin came out just about the time Universal announced the move to Florida. I had just signed with an agent and had books coming out so I started doing illustration full time.”
After his illustration career picked up speed, Jimmy and Troy decided it might be time to move. Upon visiting both Portland and Astoria, they chose the sleepy town of Astoria. “We had always had an idea for a gallery or retail space and shortly after moving we found a space.” Then they opened Lunar Boy Gallery.
In October Jimmy will show Wicked Little Things, 30 5x5-inch paintings, at Lunar Boy Gallery. With a new book coming out next October, a new gallery and a new town, Jimmy’s wild ride is still going full speed.