Inside the Makers Workshop: Portola Paints
Co-Founder Jamie Davis
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Social Media: @portolapaints
When did you start your business: 2002
How many products do you produce: About 15
Who is your favorite maker? Currently crushing hard on Stephen Kenn.
What do you listen to while you work? Anything from The Beatles to Tribe Called Quest to Punch Brothers to Serge Gainsbourg…
Jamie and Casey Davis, co-founders and owners of Portola Paints & Glazes, were born and raised in Los Angeles to a family of artists. Mentored by their father, a high-end custom home builder, Jamie and Casey inherited a deeply rooted love for design and color, and found their passion for the arts at an early age when they began exploring photography, painting, and architecture.
Using his dad's hand me down Nikon 35 mm camera, Jamie developed and honed his skill set in photography, while Casey became enamored with mixing natural pigments and investigating the alchemy of color. Drawing inspiration from their artistic pursuits, their extensive travels, and the vibrant Southern California landscape they call home, their work quickly grew beyond the lens and the canvas to create the flourishing palette of hues, textures, and finishes that would form the Portola brand.
With a combined 25 years of experience, Jamie and Casey's devotion to the brand and their customers is palpable. Because every paint color provides an opportunity to tell a story and transform a space, the brothers take both time and pride in delivering personalized service and creating customized palettes that reflect a client's unique personality. Their extensive variety of paints and specialty finishes are all made locally and in small batches at their L.A. headquarters. Using their knowledge of pigment and saturation, and an ability to match all of their paints by eye, they design full spectrum colors that reflect a broader range of light and coordinate in subtle, yet powerful ways, to any environment. Honoring time-old traditions, they blend every color by hand to ensure color depth and accuracy, and embrace ancient techniques with their exclusive Lime Wash coating and other specialty products reminiscent of the past. Engineered for environmental safety and the modern world, their paint formulations are low odor and contain no VOCs.
Nestled in the heart of Hollywood since its establishment in 1998, Portola is dedicated to handcrafting truly superior products. Jamie and Casey can be found each day at Portola's main showroom, creating inspired colors and bringing a more personal side to paint.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and the people who work with you.
My name is Jamie Davis. I am 34 years old. I am from Los Angeles, CA. I have an 11-month-old baby girl named Ellie Rose at home. My wife Amy is my best friend. She is a personal trainer to the stars and an all around badass human being and mom. I have been working with my brother Casey for nearly 16 years. We have a beautiful and complex relationship. I am blessed to have the opportunity to take my passion for making beautiful colors and finishes that transform people's homes.
What is your day-to-day like?
Lately my days have been a bit crazy! I am generally at the shop between 8-9 a.m. every day. Some days are spent working on new colors and figuring out how to expand our line and our reach. I also do all of our social media and photography, so I try to dedicate some time every week to photographing projects and behind-the scenes moments at the shop. I also spend a lot of time with our customers and designers. I love working closely with our clients to help guide their process in terms of colors and finishes. Also, I make a ton of samples. I literally feel like I spend entire days and weeks just making samples for our clients.
How do you choose your colors in your line? Have a favorite?
Our line has evolved over the years. We’ve added new colors and taken away old ones. A lot of our inspiration comes from the hands-on approach we take with our clients. We work with amazing designers who have very specific needs for their projects. After working for so many years directly with our customers, we’ve learned what gaps we need to fill in our offerings. Currently earthy peach tones and soft greens are my favorites. Specifically in our Lime Wash. Lime Wash is such a special finish that has a beautiful chalky patina to it when it dries — instantly creates a warm, worn in appearance.
Are there any special features that make your work unique?
Manufacturing our own line of eco-friendly and old-world finishes in Los Angeles is pretty unique. We specialize in color and texture. Our line is really split between traditional “paint” coatings and specialty finishes like our Lime Wash, Roman Clay (plaster) and metallics. We have been perfecting our formulas for over 15 years now.
Are there any interesting challenges or disasters you have encountered?
As with any small business, one has to wear a lot of hats. So, that is quite a balancing act in itself. It is really challenging to make time for everything that Portola requires... not to mention my personal life and having a new baby.
In terms of manufacturing, one of the main challenges we have worked through was creating our Lime Wash. It took us almost 10 years to perfect the formula to where it is today… So, there have absolutely been disasters along the way while fine tuning our recipes.
Why was this important for you to make this right now?
Now more than ever I am incredibly proud of the work we have done and are doing. I’ve dedicated more than half my life to this business. I love creating colors and finishes that transform peoples homes and businesses. We manufacture our products locally and are committed to producing eco-friendly and sustainable finishes. I want to set a good example for my daughter and do everything I can to leave this world a better, more colorful place.
View more of their work in the Portola Paints Gallery