Artist Synthia Saint James

You would have to be living in a cave not know who she is! A self taught artist/ author, her bold colorful illustrations have appeared on more than 50 book covers (Alice Walker, Terry McMillian, Iyanla Vanzant and Julia Boyd), licensed products and thirteen children’s picture books, three of which she wrote.

The United States Postal Service commissioned Synthia Saint James to create the first Kwanzaa stamp which was issued in 1997. Trust me, you have seen her work.

When you look at Synthia Saint James art you are struck by the intensity of the colors, boldness of the subjects and clarity of her intent, which she says, “. . . it’s all about the instillation of pride, self determination, life/work/career choices and sense of pride that I see in our heritage. If you notice, the subjects in my paintings are always looking up and forward, something that I feel is important if we are to recognize the inherent value of our contributions and our legacy.”

So what inspires James to create?  “There are so many different things; it could be a song, a news clip, video, movie or something that I am drawn to culturally.”  And her penchant for using blocks of bright colors? She says, “I have to attribute that to my roots, which are part Haitian and part Cherokee . . . and I am exploring my German Jewish heritage. Everything contributes to who I am and what I create, from my interpretation of a Hasidic Prayer Shawl to the stained glass windows that adorn the West Tampa Library; a ceramic tile mural I created for the Ontario, California International Airport or designs for six elevator doors for the California State Capitol’s East End Project. As I expand into utilizing other mediums to express my vision, like the design I am creating in tile and mosaic; I’m sure that my heritage and my many legacy’s will continue to speak to and inspire me.” For more information about Synthia Saint James and to view some of her work, go to

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