The growing popularity of aviation art has brought before the public eye the works of a number of professional aviation artists. Among these one artist stands out for his unique approach to this genre. "The people, settings, and costumes are what make aviation history exciting and romantic to me." It is this feeling that makes James Dietz, and his artwork, so different from that of his contemporaries. Rather than simply illustrate aviation hardware, Dietz prefers to portray human involvement.
Born in San Francisco, Jim graduated from Art Center College of Design in 1969. He had a successful illustration career in Los Angeles and New York, with a steady flow of work ranging from automobile ads, movie posters, and romantic and historical/action book covers.
After graduation from Art Center College of Design in 1969, Jim began a successful career as a commercial illustrator in Los Angeles and New York, with a steady flow of work ranging from automobile ads, movie posters, and romantic and historical/action book covers. By 1978, Jim and his wife had moved to Seattle, where Jim's work gradually shifted away from commercial illustration to primarily historical aviation, automotive and military art, an almost unheard of genre. Today his work is internationally known and collected, and his style, with its emphasis on depth of story, is recognized by collectors of historical art. Jim Dietz's list of clients includes Boeing, Bell Helicopter, Federal Express, Allison, Cessna, Flying Tigers, the Indianapolis 500, BMW, US Air Force Documentary Art Program, Wingnut Studios, Meadowbrook and Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, the National Guard and many U.S. Army organizations and associations to include: the 82nd Airborne Division, the 101st Airborne Division, U.S. Army Rangers, Special Forces, 1st Division, 2nd Division 3rd Division, 4th Division, 1st Cavalry Division, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Regiment, the Command General Staff College, and the United States Army War College.
Jim has also branched out into the fine arts field with his aviation art. A strong following has developed for his originals and a growing number of limited edition prints have introduced Jim's name to print collectors worldwide. Four of Jim's originals were put on display in the Smithsonian's National Air & Space Museum commemorating the 75th Anniversary of Naval Aviation; one of the paintings was presented by the Navy League to then Secretary of the Navy, John Lehman. A regular contributor to the Air Force Art Program, Jim's work has been featured on the cover of AIR FORCE magazine.
Jim has been a member of the World War I Aviation Historical Hall of Fame, an Artist Fellow of the American Society of Aviation Artists and a board member of the Automotive Fine Artists of America. He had one-man shows at the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in 1990, 1998 and 2003; San Diego Air & Space Museum in 1990; and the US Air Force Museum at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in 2003. In 2001, Barnes & Noble Publishing released a book on Jim's World War II art, entitled Portraits of Combat. In 2005, Jim fulfilled a childhood dream when he got the opportunity for a cameo role in Peter Jackson's (Lord of the Rings) remake of King Kong. Jim plays the role of a pilot of the Curtis Helldiver aircraft which fires at Kong while he is perched high above New York on the Empire State Building.
Jim and his wife, Patti, live in Seattle with their dog, Sarah, who shares the distinction with previous Dietz pets, of being a regular in Jim's paintings. Their son, Ian, is currently an officer serving in the U.S. Army. Jim works in a warm, pleasantly cluttered studio that resembles a WWI aviation bar, surrounded by uniforms, props and models that have made their way into paintings over the years.