Coastal kinetics: Jim Dixon crafts fanciful creations that reflect his love of the shoreline


Ferndale native Jim Dixon is a self-taught commercial designer and artist who has been in the business for more than 25 years.

But it's his fine art, inspired by his love for the work of American folk artists, that captures the eye and the hand.

He describes his work as "coastal-inspired kinetic art." He mostly uses recycled materials, making as few refinements as possible.

His creations move. Turn the cranks and fish dance, sailboats sway and crabs jiggle their claws.

Dixon, whose studio is off of Northwest Avenue in Bellingham, started doing fine art work in 2011, and says he was fortunate to have his first showing in New York City.

He says his fine art is always evolving, but his focus on coastal themes remains constant. Growing up in Northwest Washington, he spent a lot of time crabbing, beachcombing and exploring tide pools.

"With 70 percent of the world's population living in coastal regions, most people can relate to my work," he says.

Dixon is considering donating part of the proceeds from his sales to organizations working to conserve coastal habitats and species, both in the Northwest and around the world.

Finding people who appreciate his creations enough to buy them brings Dixon the most satisfaction.

"You've given birth to a piece of creation that will have a life beyond you," he says. "It's very intriguing to imagine where the work you create will be in 50 years."

One of the highlights of his artistic endeavors so far was when he delivered a commission piece to Dale and Kim Nakatani, a Bellingham couple who collect a significant amount of local art.

"Kim was so enthused to have the piece. She was far more excited about it than I was."

Even as he meets with success, Dixon's creations are evolving.

"I'm starting to add human figurative characters to the work, to elevate the whimsy and storytelling potential of each piece," he says. "Up until now my work has all been kinetic. I will be adding static sculptural work, so not all the work will be mechanical. But I'm looking for about half of the work to continue to be kinetic."

Dixon hopes to become a full-time fine artist. To achieve that, he hopes to increase his number of commission pieces while he transitions away from his commercial work.

He also takes on residential projects, such as custom cabinets and small furniture pieces.


Dixon is showing his works in November at the gallery of Allied Arts of Whatcom County.

For more about him, go to or search for Coastal Folk Art by Jim Dixon on Facebook.

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