Raised by parents Michael and Teresa Gaffney, James is the prototypical only child. Michael is a musician and ad man, Teresa is a nurse, so James kept odd hours as a child. Moving around a fair bit led to James being an introspective child, and somewhat the loner. His father's love of music certainly rubbed off on James, and continues to this day. His mother's profession gave James an interesting view of the medical industry and people in general. Growing up, his best friends were always dogs, record players, Mad Magazines and Spider Man.
James' father was also a graphic designer and creative director in several local advertising agencies, so James developed a keen understanding of advertising, design, typography, Rapidograph pens, Rubylith and press type. This experience would be key in James' career choice.
James married Beth Huffstutler in September 1992, and they have 4 children – Cade, Sean, Emma and Hope. They currently have one cat, Phantom, but nobody really likes cats.
James has lived in several parts of the country, but Asheville has always been “home.”
James Gaffney bounced around several primary schools until his folks settled down in Leicester when James was in middle school. James attended Erwin High School, where he was an artistic standout. James played football for a couple of years (mostly defensive end,) but found that the esoteric side of life was more to his liking.
In his senior year, James had several drawings and paintings displayed at the Asheville Civic Center as part of a group show. Unsure of what he “wanted to do with his life,” James was pleasantly surprised with a scholarship to the Savannah College of Art and Design. Having other local college options, James decided that SCAD would be the best school for him, as it would get him out of the house and out of the area – an opportunity to “explore the world.”
So, James attended SCAD and received a BFA in Graphic Design with minors in Illustration and Art History. While at SCAD, James developed a love for fine art and met his wife, Beth, who was a fashion design major and is current proprietor of LilyGiggle (http://lilygiggle.com,) a children's clothing pattern boutique.
James has held jobs across all disciplines in graphic design, advertising and marketing. He started his career tailing a dryer at a screen print shop in Asheville, and quickly “moved up the ladder” to the art room, which is where he has stuck. His experience also includes working for a multi-million dollar importer/exporter of home goods and automotive safety products. His work has appeared on numerous television shows (Good Morning America, ABC News, etc.,) and he has great experience with licensed products from the likes of the NFL, Warner Brothers, NBA, Childrens Television Workshop and Peanuts. One career highlight was getting to meet Charles Schulz and work closely with his team, as well as spending time in the CTW studios with Big Bird and Grover.
Currently James owns and operates Independent Studios Design (designavl.com), a web design and marketing company in Asheville, NC. Clients range from large businesses to sports teams, national and international companies as well as small mom-and-pop shops, politicians and tons of odds and ends. The stories are as varied as his experience. In business since 1998, Independent Studios has had a steady diet of change, as the business landscape of art, design, web and marketing has changed many times.
With great experience in Wordpress, web design, print design, logos and branding, James and Independent Studios has been nimble enough to keep up with the times technologically and socially while continually delivering cutting edge, fresh and relevant design.
James spends his days daydreaming, drinking coffee and designing, which is his true passion and his primary hobby. Four children keep him rather busy – but in his downtime, James enjoys playing guitar, exercising and hiking in the beautiful mountains of Asheville and Western North Carolina. James is also a huge fan of documentary films and non-fiction reading, and he has several personal design/print/art projects going at any given time.
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