Living a creative dream – an artist’s statement

The Tower Gallery and all our buildings are constructed from repurposed and recycled materials and offer a range of enjoyable and informative experiences, including musical performances, workshops, camps, peaceful retreats, and a variety of artistic and cultural events. We welcome you to come and experience the creative vision we are bringing to life at the Tower Gallery and our cultural compound.

As you can see from the distinctive design and construction of The Tower Gallery, I am a folk artist with a deep interest in architecture, as well as sculpture, photography, painting, drawing and digital art. In my architectural designs, I strive to create structures that are not only visually striking, but also environmentally friendly, by using recycled and repurposed materials. I believe that by giving new purpose to discarded objects, we can not only minimize waste and protect the environment, but also create one-of-a-kind and meaningful works of art. My passion for folk art architecture and folk art itself has been a significant part of my artistic journey for many years. The structures at The Tower Gallery are both folk art and filled with folk art.

As a portrait artist and folk artist, I am driven by a desire to celebrate the diversity of people and the rich traditions, cultures, and natural wonders of both my local community and the world. In SWLA, I aim to create a unique, captivating world through my art, structures, and photography that reflect the values, inspiration and experiences of those around me. My ultimate goal is to contribute to a vision of a more beautiful, enjoyable and harmonious world through my art and cultural activities.

My work has a distinct and recognizable style, particularly in my watercolor and charcoal portraits. I believe that my Mandala Photography technique is also unique, and that it is easy to identify it as my own. I consider myself an eclectic folk artist, drawing inspiration from a wide range of sources and blending elements of handmade art with compositions of new, synthetic, or recycled components. I take inspiration from known and unknown artists, interpreting and translating what I like from the folk art I’ve seen and admired. Using my ever-developing skills, I experiment with digital tools to create new, original images that excite me. Since I use a wide variety of artistic styles and digital techniques in my digital art and folk art prints, it may be difficult for others to identify it as my own. Therefore, I have begun digitally signing my original digital folk art prints with a copyright like this: © JIM PHILLIPS.

My Folk Art Prints showcase a diverse range of traditional cultures, natural environments and traditions from around the world. My creation process is unique, as it combines traditional techniques with modern technology. I use a combination of watercolor, charcoal, digital manipulation and photography to create my images. I also use my finger on a touchpad or a digital stylus to paint digitally on my laptop. I strive to create light-hearted and humorous works that celebrate diversity and bring joy to those who view them. I spend a lot of time experimenting with digital art, and find it to be a magical extension of my hand and perceptual skills. I use computer software to refine and manipulate my images and then send the digital files to a professional printer to be printed on a variety of surfaces, such as museum-quality paper, canvas or metal, and then shipped to fans worldwide.

As a photographer, I have developed a unique approach called Mandala Photography. With this technique, I transform mundane and ordinary images into sacred mandalas. Mandalas are not only used in Western cultures as decorative items, such as dream catchers and other ornaments, but also often used as a means of contemplation or meditation, focusing on the intricate patterns and designs as a way to quiet the mind and find inner peace. In some cultures, mandalas are used to create spiritual spaces, such as painting them on surfaces, on clothing or cloth banners, or by carving them on objects or buildings, or by making intricate mandala designs using colored sand.

To me, the camera is not just a tool to capture a moment in time, but also a tool for personal transformation. I believe that the act of taking photos, processing them, and looking at them, can be a spiritual discipline that has the potential to help us open ourselves up to personal, artistic, soulful and meaningful experiences.


My approach to photography is distinct from others as I have found a way to amplify an image’s “Visual Weight”. Visual weight refers to how all the elements of an image appear and affect the viewer. In my Mandala Photography, by mirroring, I repeat and magnify all elements such as shape, form, texture, color, size and depth. This amplification of the elements and symmetrical arrangement increases the impact of the image on the viewer, transforming it from the ordinary to the sublime and sacred, drawing the viewer into a more intense and focused experience.

My Mandala Photography technique evolved over time, starting with traditional film photography, and gradually transitioning to digital techniques. Initially, I would take my 35 mm film to be developed and asked the technician to print four copies of each shot, two regular and two reversed. Then, I would glue the photos into a grid, mirroring them in each quadrant and meeting at the center point. This process required a lot of attention to detail, as I had to match the mirrored edges as accurately as possible. Despite the challenges, I loved the results and continued to refine my technique. Today, with digital technology, I can create mandala images entirely digitally, using a digital camera to take the image, computer software to process the images, create accurate reverse copies and match the edges up to the pixel with ease and speed. It is a very satisfying process.

Original photo of farm junk pile © JIM PHILLIPS
Reversed original farm junk pile © JIM PHILLIPS
Duplicated & mirrored composition – now a sacred farm art mandala © JIM PHILLIPS

Living a life where Folk Art is important

I believe that Folk Art celebrates diversity. It showcases the diverse cultural traditions and perspectives of different communities and helps preserve their cultural heritage. Folk Art also allows for the expression of pride and identity. Through my work, I hope to promote a deeper appreciation and understanding of diversity in our world. Additionally, I find great joy in celebrating the diverse cultures that inspire my work.

Take a video tour of Jim’s first show in The Tower Gallery.

We are working on creating an Artist In Residency program – we a close to getting it up and running.