If he can dream it, he can create it.
Jason Hulfish is one of those rare artists with the ability to vividly transform the fun, surreal, fantasy world of pure imagination to life. Born in St. Petersburg, Hulfish has been creating art in Tampa for over 20 years and has become a renowned artist in the Bay area.
Like the art he makes, Hulfish is bright, energetic and full of fun. He began his journey designing T-shirts, which led to murals, and then kids’ rooms and themed environments. Hulfish eventually began creating custom sculptures and furniture. That evolved into the intricate design work with large 3D pieces and environments that he is known for today.
“Art is a true trial-and-error business. The way you learn is by doing,” he muses. “Along the way, you get better and start to find your style, the things you’re good at and what you enjoy.”
Specializing in crafting otherworldly children’s bedrooms, playrooms, custom murals, handmade furniture, sculptures and commercial spaces, Hulfish describes what he does as “functional art” that people can interact with and enjoy.
With a background in business and marketing, Hulfish quit the corporate world to pursue a full-time career in art, switching out days behind a computer desk for larger-than- life projects. In his studio, he crafts pirates, princesses, clowns, dinosaurs, dragons and anything else that exists in the imagination of his clients.
Hulfish’s Grand Theming Studios clientele includes celebrities, professional athletes, famous musicians and well-known Tampa businesses and restaurants. His creations can be found across the nation, from the Keys to California. His work has been featured on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Treehouse Masters, Rev Run’s Renovation, Posh Tots and more.
Currently, Hulfish is a resident artist on Bar Rescue. Whether he’s making glow-in- the-dark reefs or candy factory playrooms, his forte is making his client’s wildest dreams a reality.
An incredibly in-demand artist in the Bay area, Hulfish’s work is prominently featured at local restaurants. Currently, he has art on display at Sacred Pepper in Carrollwood and Forbici Modern Italian in Hyde Park.
For Sacred Pepper, Hulfish crafted a customized hallway made to look as though you’re inside of a champagne bottle. It represents the fun, unique and stylish a. experience the owner seeks to offer diners. Along another wall is Hulfish’s one-of-a-kind tree branch light sculpture.
“Jason Hulfish is so talented and brought my vision to life,” says Candy DeBartolo, owner of Sacred Pepper. “His art offers an element of surprise and puts the icing on the cake for our guests at Sacred Pepper.”
At Forbici, Hulfish’s two creations are both hard to miss: a giant red heart with devil horns and fangs, and a mural of a woman.
If there is one thing Hulfish especially understands and incorporates into his work, it’s how the growth of social media and digital influence has impacted both the art world and the business world.
“In restaurants, hotels and similar businesses, everyone’s carrying cameras looking for a reason to take a picture, looking for that iconic piece,” he explains. “A lot of businesses look at it as just buying art, but it’s more than that. You’re buying a marketing piece, you’re buying strategy. If you create something that people want to photograph, you’re already ahead of the game.”
In simple terms, Hulfish and his clients know the power of creating an enticing photo op.
Since its installation, the devil heart has become a popular social media attraction, a large part of the Forbici experience that frequents the restaurant’s Instagram posts and tagged photos.
“Jason is the most talented artist I’ve ever known,” says Jeff Gigante, partner/investor in Grand Theming Studios and owner of Forbici. “His work is the most photographed part of Forbici. It’s all over social media. People love it.”
When asked about his favorite projects, Hulfish laughs, saying, “It’s kind of like trying to pick a favorite child.”
Anything but ordinary, Hulfish’s creations are sights to behold. It may come as a surprise that the artist is fully self-taught.
And for Hulfish, his motives are uncomplicated: It is and always has been all about the art.
“I just want people to enjoy the pieces,” he says. “I want them to interact with the art and have fun. If I’ve created it, I want it to invoke an emotion.”
Nikki DeBartolo Chronister, wife of Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister, hired Hulfish to create the environment for her son’s at-home spaces. Hulfish created a pirate’s bedroom complete with a custom-built pirate ship bunk bed, and walls and ceilings painted with seascapes featuring sharks and marine life. He also designed a castle playroom depicting scenes with dragons and knights in armor.
“He is an extremely talented artist with the ability to make any vision a reality,” says the longtime client and friend of the artist.
As Hulfish continues to take the art world by storm with his reality-defying work, he stays focused on his craft and full of the playful, lighthearted energy that breathes life into his art.
“There’s no critic outside of the person that’s inside of my head that has an impact on me,” he says. “I just keep doing what I’m doing and keep playing my best game. I’m never competing against anyone other than myself.”
Want more art? Check out this month’s The Gallery