James Powell is the power force behind the brilliantly named Jimagination Creations. A business formed form his love of woodwork, his imagination (and his name). From the interior of VW camper vans to lazercut key rings his work is beautiful and bespoke.
Here we chat to Jim and find out about what inspires him to keep his imagination ignited.
Describe your typical working day
My typical working day varies a lot depending upon what commissions I have on at the time. My workshop and laser studio are both at home so I admit I do often have a more leisurely start to the day, but that balances out as I work until late, usually 9pm, later if I have a show coming up or a commission with a deadline!
My workshop is organised chaos – pretty much the norm for a woodworking area! Even though I expanded it significantly at the beginning of the year, from a 10ft square space to a 30x10ft area by knocking through some walls, there still isn’t enough space. The woodworking is often noisy with the machines going and dusty, so I spend a lot of the day with ear defenders on and a dust mask, and the air filter system going, so it is usually pointless even having music on.
I enjoy being out in my workshop as it is hands on making stuff and designing stuff myself. You can’t beat the smell of wood being cut. Although I would happily live without all the sanding that needs to be done. Usually after my evening meal I leave the workshop and start in the laser studio (in the winter it is too cold out in the workshop!) which is nice as I can put on spotify on in the background and have some tunes. Most of the laser work is computer based, so it is a lot if designing in Corel Draw which I can do while another project or commission is cutting. While the laser is going I often take the time to catch up with business emails. When I finish in the laser studio I am still not finished for the day as although I may go and relax with the tv on I still have accounts to do!
What inspires you?
Cornwall inspires me. My surfboard furniture range was inspired by doing it when I was younger (and had time!) and many of my more creative woodworking jewellery boxes are animal themed or nature inspired. I like quirky pieces, so often I see something and think – how can i make that into a…? Like my bookcases in the shape of trees.
How did you get started with art/craft?
I’ve always liked art. I did art GCSE’s at school, and my mum is an artist – a painter – so it’s always been around me growing up. I kinda stumbled into woodworking later on in life. I made a few things for fun, liked it and carried on from there really. I was never formally trained in woodworking. So being self taught was a slow process involving many mistakes along the way, but you can learn by trial and error and by just reading about the subject, or even these days by watching YouTube videos! It is actually only the past 2 years that I have had any kind of training – I studied Furniture making at Cornwall College Camborne – more to see if I was doing things the right way beforehand, turns out I was!
What made you start your own business?
I had never planned on being in the creative industry. My degree is in teaching secondary school sports. But it never really captivated me. So after working in America for seven summers in a children’s summer camp and several less than exciting winter jobs, I decided I needed something more permanent. My first full year at home after quitting America I made all my friends and family wooden presents for birthdays and special occasions, just to get their reactions. They were all so positive that it gave me the boost to try it as a business. I actually eased into running my business full time, slowly cutting back my hours in my other job over a few years. Less of a shock that way! I could also judge whether my business was working or not and so worth going for it full time that way. Now I wouldn’t want to go back to working for someone else. The freedom and happiness you get from having your own business is the best thing ever.
What is the biggest lesson you have learnt?
I am still constantly learning things, not just in woodworking but also in business. I guess with every artist and businessman the biggest hurdle is always believing in yourself and what you can do. Artists and designer/makers especially are always so overly critical of themselves and their work – you have to learn to just go for it!
when did you get started?
I registered my business in November 2008. During a recession. So I knew if I could keep a business going then I should be fine.
What three things would you go back and tell yourself?
Have the courage to be as creative and as quirky as you can. Take the support and help when it’s offered and needed – don’t do it all on your own. Expansion and diversification is good! Do it sooner!
What has been your biggest achievement in your business?
Just running a successful business that is growing each year in strength, following and finances is an achievement in itself. But when I started out I never thought that I would have my work in national magazines (my VW campervan interior work), or even be good enough to exhibit in galleries, or do the big show events…but here I am!
What is your favourite thing to create?
I actually really like making my animal bandsaw boxes. My favourite so far has been a jewellery box in the shape of a hedgehog – spines and all. You have to pull its head out so that its body will pivot up to reveal a small hidden compartment inside it for small delicate or precious items.
Where do you see the future of your business going?
I have big goals for my business. I very much want a bigger workshop and space, ideally with my own gallery so I can make it and sell it all one site! perfect!