Franklin artist creates in many ways, but has main focus on community

Franklin artist creates in many ways, but has main focus on community

ABOVE: Franklin artist Ed James stands alongside his booth at Dickens of a Christmas. // JOHN MCBRYDE


Situated as he was at the far eastern end of Dickens of a Christmas over the weekend, Franklin artist Ed James wasn’t seeing a tremendous amount of traffic for his booth promoting his Think Big Stuff company.

Most of the festival’s activities were taking place on the town square and in the stretch toward Five Points of downtown Franklin. Plus, the cold and rainy conditions kept attendance down at Dickens.

But even if the number of visitors to his booth on Saturday wasn’t where James might have preferred in his hometown, his presence can be experienced all throughout Franklin.

The Magpies shop in Franklin’s Five Points is one of 15-20 retailers where artist Ed James has decorated for Christmas. // JOHN MCBRYDE

“For the last four years I’ve been concentrating on shops in downtown Franklin,” said James, who created what would become the multipurpose Think Big Stuff some 35 years ago. “I have 15-20 local clients that have me decorate their stores for Christmas. I’m hoping to carry the whole downtown tradition into the next phase.”

Think Big Stuff, which was established in 2014 but has its roots in March 1982 when James collaborated with recording artist Amy Grant to help with the stage design on her first nationwide tour, handles art and design for a variety of projects and endeavors. James works on brand marketing events, sports, entertainment, live shows, parade design, artworks, graphics and production.

In addition to Grant, he has worked on band tours for Vince Gill, James Taylor, Indie Arie and Ty Pennington, among several others. He has done design on productions as diverse as numerous Christmas shows for the Nashville Symphony; the Saturn Homecoming for the old car company in Spring Hill; the unveiling of the Nissan Altima; and just recently a Brad Paisley video that was shot in downtown Franklin.

Visitors to the FrankTown Festival of Lights at the Williamson County Ag Center can see some of James’ creations at the entrance of the huge light show. “I partnered with Christmas Lights Etc. out of Atlanta to design the front gate of that show,” James said.

Christmas shoppers in downtown Franklin can see his work in shops such as Savory Spice, Rock Paper Scissors, Magpies, Franklin Road Apparel, Twine, Baskin Robbins and others.

“I’ve been involved with retailers here in downtown Franklin for about five years,” said James, who has lived in Franklin since 1989. “At this point in my career, I’m really trying to focus on my community.”

To that end, James said he has been in talks with the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County, “about how Think Big Stuff could be involved in helping them with the design and the look and the branding of all three of their festivals (Main Street, Pumpkinfest and Dickens of a Christmas).”

As Christmas music filled the air and the patter of cold rain could be heard hitting the tent on his Dickens booth, James took time to give a visitor the “nickel tour” of what he’s accomplished as an artist through the years.

“I’ve had a very fortunate career,” he said.

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