Pura vida means Pure Life. JD Miller taught me the meaning of this expression when I visited him at his studio at Samuel Lynne Galleries about a week ago.
JD Miller is a reflectionist artist, a musician, and a co-owner of a successful contemporary art gallery in Dallas, TX. JD was a professional musician and worked on the radio when fifteen years ago he discovered his painting talent. “I decided that I will work, save and do whatever it takes to become a professional artist. I was painting 30 to 50 paintings per month when I started.” JD’s first art show happened at his house: he sold about 60 paintings that night. “I knew I was on the right path.” Later he was discovered by Janice Meyers who owned Florence Art Gallery in Dallas, TX.
When Janice retired to spend more time with her kids, JD founded his own Reflection Fine Art gallery. “About seven years ago I quit my job, cashed in my 401 K, refinanced my home -basically gambled everything I own on starting my own gallery. And it worked out. I did that for four years and I met Phil Romano who owns restaurants and we formed a partnership about three years ago to open this place, Samuel Lynne Galleries.” JD and Philip named the gallery after their kids: Samuel is Philip’s son and Jaime Lynne is JD’s daughter.
JD’s art went 80 times up in value in the last fifteen years. Thus, he sold his first paintings for $50-250, while now the same artwork worth between $15,000 and $20,000. JD is determined to rise to the top of the art world, and he clearly understands the value of promotion and building a brand. Thus, when I came to his studio, he was working on a bunch of small paintings – promotional gifts for producers of TV and radio programs. JD believes that the more that is published and written about you, the more you are collected by major collectors and museums, the more notoriety you acquire as an artist. A combination of all these things raises the value of your art. “That’s why as a gallery, we don’t buy advertising per se. We rarely purchase an ad. What we do is we invest our money into PR. We have a PR company in Dallas, TX and we have a national company based out of Las Vegas that handles our national and international PR. That’s what we invest in.”
JD confessed, “I’ve never painted to sell. I paint what I love. Don’t worry about it. I found, fortunately, that if I like it, the other people tend to like it too.” I know some artists are obsessed with perfectionism, and I asked JD how often he destroys his work. “I’ve painted close to 2500 paintings now and I had probably ten that absolutely didn’t work.”