I have followed and loved his artwork since I was in college. His work is bold, creative, symbolic, expressive, graphic, ethereal, odd, beautiful, interesting and timeless.
He masterfully mixes classical applications with contemporary, fantasy, and even futuristic imagery.
That is why I felt honored when his image “The Responsible Woman” was chosen as the cover art for my book. It is the perfect visual representation of the content.
In fact, it may be a little too perfect.
Good ol’ Jimmy is upstaging me.
Friday afternoon I sat at the “Author’s Table” in the BYU Bookstore during Women’s Conference watching hundreds of women scampering around like giddy little girls as they filled shopping baskets with frilly tank tops, t-shirts, BYU paraphernalia, jewelry, trinkets, tote bags, scarves, headbands, purses, skirts, bags of chocolate covered cinnamon bears, Oreos, pretzels, marshmallows, Rice Crispy treats, Nutter Butters and anything else that would hold still long enough to be doused in chocolate.
I glanced up at the sign over the entrance again to check something. Yep, it does say Bookstore. I was just starting to wonder based on the frenzied demand for anything and everything except for books, it seemed.
Perhaps after two days straight of hearing speaker after speaker the women are all worded out, so when they come into the Bookstore the “changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins” are more enticing than further intellectual stimuli.
Okay, so my book doesn’t offer any intellectual stimuli, but still. There was hardly anyone at all over in the book section.
Finally a woman came up to my table, “Hi.”
“Hello! How are you on this fine day?” Oops – overanxious. I quickly kicked back in my chair and tried to act more nonchalant, like I didn’t care that she was the first person to come up to my table in 20 minutes.
“Do you know the name of those pretty figurines that have, like, the mother and son together, and a father and daughter, and there are a bunch of angels, and so on?”
Of course she was a stray. She’d wandered into book section of the Bookstore by accident while looking for trinkets.
“You mean ‘Willow Tree?'”
“Yes! That’s it! Thank you. Do you happen to know where they are?”
Of course I did, because I’d had an hour to visually memorize the store by then. Because I have a strong tendency for evil, I was momentarily tempted to point her in the wrong direction and send her on a wild goose chase, but I quickly repented of bad thoughts and gave her accurate directions.
“Thank you so much.” Before she left she happened to glance down at the stack of books in front of me. “Oh, I love James Christensen’s work! Don’t you?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Maybe after I find the Willow Tree things I want I’ll come back and find a James Christensen book.”
“That would be . . . great.”
Off she went.
Luckily, right after that a good friend of mine came up from behind and mauled me. She was there for the conference and had been bragging up my book to the friends that came with her so they came to buy some books and have them signed.
You rock, Linda.
While we were chatting a couple of other women came up and were looking at my book. One of them asked, “Isn’t this James Christensen’s work?”
“Yes it is,” I answered, then tried to strategically turn the topic to my work, “I feel very lucky to have such a great image on the cover of my book.”
“Do you know James?”
Sigh. “No . . . well, I did meet him once at a workshop.”
“I took an art class from him here at BYU years ago. He’s awesome.” She started flipping through my book.
My hopes rose, a little.
She looked at the back of the book, “Are there any more of his images in here?”
Sigh. “No, there’s just the one for the cover of my book.”
“Oh.” Her interest started to fade.
Linda tried to help, “Her book is really great too.”
You rock, Linda.
The lady set the book on the stack, “Well, thanks.”
“You’re welcome?” I’m not sure what for.
She walked away.
Linda patted my back, “I tried, sister.”
“I know. You rock.”
The line for chocolate cinnamon bears had gone down so I let Linda and her clan go so they could take advantage of the opportunity.
After that, I had a nice chat with the other three authors that were there with me. Since none of them were Stephanie Meyer either, we all had time on our hands.
Eventually another woman came by and picked up a book, “Great cover.”
Live and learn. “Isn’t it, though? Yea, sweet ol’ Jimmy agreed to give a me a prop for my book debut.”
“You know him?” She started thumbing through the pages.
“We’re super tight – like besties.”
It probably counts as a double sin to lie on the BYU campus, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
“Hmmm,” she was teetering on the edge of decision.
I had to close the deal, “You could probably get him to sign my book sometime.”
Her eyes lit up, “That would be great!” She was hooked. “I’ll take one.” She turned to walk to the cash register.
“Hey, I’ll sign it for you too, if you want.”
“Oh, okay – if you want to.”
“I do.” I signed my name at the bottom of the title page, leaving plenty of room for James.
She skipped away dreaming of the day she would meet “James the Great” in person and have him sign my book for her.
I know I’m terrible.
I’m so sorry James, wherever you are. I shamelessly used you. I’m the lady holding the string in your painting “Poofy Guy On a Short Leash.”
I Jimmy rigged a fake friendship between us to sell a book.
I couldn’t help it.
Perhaps I can be the inspiration for your next painting, “The Irresponsible Woman.”
Make her pathetic, but kinda cute.