Artist, cyclist, skier, and oneclock co-founder, jamie kripke brings the same curiosity and creative energy to everything he does.
Some people are wired to make connections, and OneClock co-founder Jamie Kripke is one of them. Whether he’s talking about art, cycling, skiing, music, or clock making, it’s almost as if there is no difference: all conversations easily eddy back to the philosophical undercurrents of what it means to live, work, and play with authenticity and ease. Is a bike ride a poem? Is a book a drum? Is a clock a music box? For Jamie and fans of his work, the answer is an obvious yes.
Prior to founding OneClock in 2020, Jamie worked for over twenty years as a commercial photographer, a successful career that grew right out of the hand-me-down Minolta SLR his mom gave him at age fifteen. Jamie, who grew up in Toledo, Ohio in the 1970s and 80s, knew from a young age that he liked making art and taking pictures, but hedged his bets by entering college at CU Boulder as a business and pre-med student before studying philosophy and taking fine arts classes.
“My mom is an artist and my dad is an entrepreneur, and they both encouraged me as a creative kid with an aptitude for hands-on, technical stuff. Making a living as a photographer was still a little daunting to me at first because it was so loose and open,” he says. “I was curious about other creative professions that had a little more structure to them. And while I eventually ended up back at the beginning, so to speak, I brought all those interests with me. They’re all related, and have all affected the way I look at and approach the world.”
After college, Jamie took a job as a photo assistant in Ketchum, Idaho where he could gain experience in the industry, and also spend plenty of time skiing in Sun Valley. When it was time to go, he did what many young, peripatetic artists invariably do at some point in their life and moved to San Francisco. “Advertising photography tends to predominantly come out of Los Angeles or New York, but I just couldn’t make those moves,” he shares. “San Francisco, with the mountains and ocean and energy of the city, that was an easy transition.”
While steadily growing his commercial photography career with his longtime agent, Marianne Campbell, Jamie continued to take evening art classes and attend workshops, this time at California College of the Arts and the San Francisco Art Institute, on topics ranging from architecture and interior design to copywriting, art direction, and, of course, photography. For a decade, he and his wife Kate made their home in the city, taking up residence in the Western Addition, Inner Richmond, and Cole Valley neighborhoods before heading back to Boulder in 2008 to put down roots with the first of their two children in tow.
“For many years, being a professional photographer really satisfied my need to make stuff,” he shares of the years working and traveling from Boulder to shoot advertising and editorial work for clients like Audi, Bike, ESPN, Esquire, The North Face, and Wired. “I was hired to make pictures, and every job was different. In every project I had to learn something new, meet someone new, find a new creative solution. I got hooked on that way of living and making stuff.”
When Jamie wasn’t shooting commercial jobs, he was working on his own art practice, where he sells limited edition fine art prints. He also evolved his work to include new photography and printmaking techniques while spending time at Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass. In 2013, he made his studio in a rented historic building built in the early 1900’s—originally a horse stable, then a grocery store—located on the corner of 23rd and Pine in Boulder’s Whittier neighborhood. Five years later, he and Kate bought the property and began renovating it as a mixed-use space that would eventually house both of their businesses as well as a short-term rental.
“Renovation extends a hand toward a future unseen but longed for,” writes photographer and art historian Teju Cole—one of Jamie’s favorite authors—in his book Blind Spot. “To construct, to repair, is to hope. Who is to say those bags of cement at their slumber are not the material trace of some deep personal dreamwork?”
After Jamie assumed ownership and began restoring the Pine Street studio, he began engaging in the dreamwork that would become OneClock. The idea of making a design-forward, high quality alarm clock had been kicking around in his brain for a few years, and he found that a window of opportunity was beginning to open. He stuck his neck out. “Moving from the 2-D work of photography to the 3-D world of building construction and product design was great, like going from a still photograph to a motion picture with sound. But there was a whole new dimension, quite literally, this added complexity of manufactured form to learn. After my many years of making things, I was like, ‘Well, how hard can it be to make a clock?’ Turns out, it’s really hard.”
Jamie teamed up with his good friend Howie Rubin, whom he had met many years earlier in a parenting class, to grow the idea into a business. From the earliest days of their friendship, the two have been known to spin yarns together, scheming about ideas with varying degrees of feasibility that either held fast or frayed apart. OneClock was the former.
“I think the clock ended up being what it is because we approached it as a comprehensive project. We had an idea for the form and the function, but we were also open to possibilities along the way,” Jamie says. “We tried to stay open while also staying true. The idea was the north star, with all this stuff circling around it. It was up to us to filter out and only keep what was relevant. Where it gets sticky is when we’re confronted with several options and the right one is the harder one to follow through on but we do it anyway. Charles and Ray Eames had a philosophy that five percent of the energy that goes into a creative project is coming up with the idea, and ninety-five percent is defending it. Not even making it—just defending it! When there are tough decisions to make, Howie and I just look at each other and say ‘Five Ninety-Five.’”
OneClock continues to be dreamed of, designed, and defended in the same studio where Jamie makes artwork—he has a compact monotype printing set-up where he makes works on paper inspired by Gerhard Richter, Masahisa Fukase, and John Baldessari—gathers with other local creatives to talk shop, practices drumming on a kit curiously calibrated from stacks of books, and is currently tinkering with a floor lamp designed from a repurposed metal cinema stand.
It would seem there’s never a time Jamie isn’t “in the studio,” even when he’s away from the four walls he’s built around it. “My staples are biking and skiing. That’s how I experience the mountains, and the mountains have deeply influenced the art I make,” he says. “Both activities lend themselves to a lot of contemplation. Something always comes out of those uninterrupted periods of movement. Creativity is often the overlapping of two familiar things that make something new. I keep my eye out for these unexpected combinations, and find that when I’m switching up my inputs, like flipping over to AM radio, they present themselves more readily.”
The coherence he’s looking for has just as much to do with the output of his own creative practice as it does serving his greater values—of growing and nurturing family and community, of bringing mindfulness and beauty to a wider audience through art and objects. The French philosopher Pierre Teilhard De Chardin said it this way: “Remain true to yourself, but move ever upward toward greater consciousness and greater love! At the summit you will find yourselves united with all those who, from every direction, have made the same ascent. For everything that rises must converge.”