I’m Jim Bachor, born in the suburbs of Detroit and have been in Chicago more than half my life now. I’ve worked over 20 years as a designer in the ad biz before slowly transitioning over to the art form of the mosaic.
When did you first start getting involved with art?
I guess it started in high school where I began to notice that I could ‘hold my own’ with other art students. It was always considered a hobby vs a career path in my family and I believed that thinking right through the first couple years of college.
Scrolling through your artwork, it’s clear you have a deep respect and inspiration from mosaic artwork. What do you like about mosaic so much?
What got me started with mosaics was an initial trip to Europe in the late 90s. Visiting the ancient ruins of Pompeii and seeing mosaics there that were frozen in time – almost 2000 years old. It’s the durability of the art form – that an artist’s work looked essentially the same as it did when it was first produced. The idea that I could, in theory, produce concepts all my own and that they had the potential to last so long is what continues to fuel my work to this day.
The worst part about living in Chicago is our disastrous Potholes. What sparked your interest to give these Potholes some art direction?
Potholes are repaired but never permanently (short of repaving the street) – in 2013 we had a particularly rough pothole season in my neighborhood. There was this one stubborn pothole in front of our house that refused to stay fixed. I kinda put two and two together – realizing I had a passion for this very durable art form and also had this problem in the middle of my street that refused to stay fixed. I ended up cooking up a piece of artwork to install in that pothole and here I am today…
Do you ever get tired of people just calling you ‘the pothole guy’?
It’s funny you mention that – I guess kinda – but obviously, it is what has brought attention to my work so I can’t complain too much. People know of the ‘pothole guy’ but not really what my name is – I’m working on trying to flip that thinking –
You once said, “It’s a tough thing to make a living as an artist, especially being a new kid on the block in the fine art community”. Has it become easier over the years to make your way into the fine art community?
It IS tough to make a living as an artist. having spent the bulk of my career in another field (advertising) I can certainly appreciate the difference and the difficulty. Over time the pothole art campaign has opened some doors in the fine art community so yes, it has gotten easier. Now it’s just finding the time to pursue opportunities. my other job is a Dad so I have very limited work days. I need to be really efficient with my time management and need to decide which opportunities I have time to pursue and which I don’t.
One of my favorite pieces you did were the 3-d ones of Julius Caesar and The Temple of Apollo. How hard was it creating these?
Thanks – those pieces were a beast (bitch) to do as it’s really difficult to get the colors right. what I like and don’t like about mosaics is that you’re always constrained by your materials. Unlike painting, where you can whip up any color you need, with mosaics you’re limited to the colors of glass available. There were no ‘easy’ areas in those pieces you mention where iI could knock out a section with little thought…and those pieces STILL aren’t quite right!
You’re now working on a new series called, ‘Patron Saints of Chicago’. What inspired this series?
A lot of ancient mosaics had religious-based themes. Some of my early work brought this topic to contemporary life. Chicago and the state of Illinois have a rich history of questionable politicians. This series defies a few players in this game – it’s up to the viewer if it’s tongue in cheek or not…
When it’s all said and done, what mark do you want to leave in this world?
I just like the idea that it’s possible that some of my work (and in turn, my thoughts and personality) might exist long after I’m gone and my ancestors have no idea who I was. Hopefully, my work also inspires people to live for the day – life is short – don’t be afraid to pursue what you want to pursue.