The Ursa Major T-Shirt

Posted in Journal

Proud to Announce the 2nd printing of the Ursa Major T-Shirt! Cotton Bureau contacted me recently saying the Ursa Major shirt was popular enough that they wanted a round two, so we accommodated! I asked if they were going to include children sizing this time around, and they still couldn’t swing it .. but that’s cool. Next time!

I got my Ursa Major shirts today! Did you get yours? I need photos! #bearjames #ursamajor #thingavibes

A photo posted by BJ Heinley (@bjheinley) on


Posted in Journal

wooly_bearjames2Just for fun I decided to introduce my own creature over at Brad Woodward’s project, Designostrataurs. Brad and his site Brave the Woods has recently been featured on Grain Edit, and rightly so … he’s got a killer style that is deceptively simple with a playful edge.

Let me know what you think of my dino contribution (I know that Wooly Mammoths aren’t actually dinosaurs.. but in the 1970’s they were!)

Questions for Kids

Posted in Journal

Not sure where I found this a few years back, but thought it was a great idea. Grab your kid and sit them down, whip out this list and ask away. Write down the answers exactly as they’re given to you. If you have the ability to capture video, you should do this. (Also, of course, replace dad with mom, aunt, grandma, pet name, etc)

Hit me up on Twitter at @mrbearjames or on the Facebook page and let me know your results! . 

1. What is something dad always says to you?

2. What makes dad happy?

3. What makes dad sad?

4. How does your dad make you laugh?

5. What was your dad like as a child?

6. How old is your dad?

7. How tall is your dad?

8. What is his favorite thing to do?

9. What does your dad do when you’re not around?

10. If your dad becomes famous, what will it be for?

11. What is your dad really good at?

12. What is your dad not very good at?

13. What does your dad do for her job?

14. What is your dad’s favorite food?

15. What makes you proud of your dad?

16. If your dad were a cartoon character, who would he be?

17. What do you and your dad do together?

18. How are you and your dad the same?

19. How are you and your dad different?

20. How do you know your dad loves you?

21. Where is your dad’s favorite place to go?

Geocaching with Girl Scouts

Posted in Journal


This past weekend, I honored to have been asked to lead Girl Scout Troop 314 on a geocaching expedition. What an amazing group of girls and parents Troop 314 is – so enthusiastic. The adventure grew by leaps and bounds as the day progressed.

We started by going over definitions of geocaching, GPS, and about the navigation, maps, and technology. We also discussed how geocaching is all over the world (even in Japan! ha) and that all those caches/treasure is just waiting to be found. We started off talking about what GPS is, how the network of satellites and wi-fi & cellular towers help GPS work. After looking at the cache map on the iPhone App, we quickly find a cache nearby and headed towards it.


After reading the hints and looking around, we finally found a VERY cleverly hidden cache in some bamboo. The girls were so excited, and it started a discussion about different types of caches. We found another one a few blocks away, and after logging our names and pictures, the girls started talking about creating their own. I looked at the other parents, and it seemed like the obvious next step. We split up into two groups, and reconvened at the park nearby.. a great place to strategize, make, and hide our cache!


There were so many ideas it was hard to hone in on just one, but we finally found the right materials, a great location, and came up with a concept for describing the hints.


In less than 2 hours, these girls had gone from not really knowing what geocaching was to creating their own and offering it out to the world Amazing!


At the end of the day, the troop leader said that they had definitely earned the geocaching patch, and that I could have one too. I was humbled for sure.. my first Girl Scout badge!

Reach out if I can help you with your next geocaching adventure, or if you enjoyed reading about this one. Thanks again to the girls and parents of Troop 314 (aka Pi Troop!) -Bear James

Ursa Major / New Shirt

Posted in Journal

I’m excited to show you new shirt I’ve been working on. I’m about to submit it to the Cotton Bureau for some love .. we’ll see what happens.

UPDATE: Design has been accepted and is now available for purchase! There’s a time limit on the printing, so buy one now. (Women’s scoop neck available too). I’m so excited!

UPDATE 2: Three days after it went live, the shirt has now been funded and will be printed very soon! You still have 11 days or so to get one of these rare shirts on your body.


Frosty Update

Posted in Journal

Hey folks .. I’m just having a whole lot of fun working on some new illustrations for Frosty the Snowbot. Hope you enjoy them!

This is a detail of a scene when Frosty goes to Texas and rides into some trouble.


This is a screenshot of some vector graphics I’ve done as a precursor to doing the painting. This helps me isolate some of the various pieces. The scene is from a moment at the beginning of the book, where Frosty the Snowbot explodes onto the scene! I really like the colors in these early stages.



Stay tuned for more. To get blog updates, subscribe to my newsletter over at Ursa Major.

Postcards / Travel

Posted in Journal

I’ve begun work on a new project with a couple friends. While I can’t talk about the larger project, I can tell you that it involves Postcards! Part of a larger effort from the Ursa Major studio. Let me know if you like ‘em. (Twitter, Facebook)


Some fun stuff

Posted in Journal

notebookI’ve been working on some ideas lately for some fun stuff to share. These are some quick sketches I did a while ago to show some friends. Initially, I thought it could be interesting to use faux fur! What do you think?

Eventually some of this stuff will get made, but some it will only be available to our club members. What’s that you say? A club? No no, I don’t know what you’re talking about. There is no club! But if there was, it would be a secret, so I wouldn’t tell anyone, and I definitely WOULD NOT put my email in the newsletter box over at Ursa Major to learn more. ;P



The Trading Tortoise / Souther Salazar & Monica Choy

Posted in Journal

Today, I participated in a unique cultural experience. Souther Salazar and Monica Choy are a couple of artists touring the U.S. doing something called the Trading Tortoise. They made a stop in Austin at Domy Books, and my kids and I got to go down and experience the awesomeness!

You can see Souther pretty clearly in this image, and Monica is just to the right.. if you look close you can see her face.

The idea is that these two artists are traveling the country, seeing sights, hanging out in galleries, book stores, and other cool places … all the while meeting and swapping objects and stories from kids, friends, and people they don’t know. They catalog the traded objects and their stories by giving each object a tag that has unique number and a story associated with that object that I think you can find later.  They photograph the trades and the people who traded them and post them up on a tumblr gallery. Eventually, they’ll end up with their collection in New York at the Jonathan Levine gallery at a show featuring their artwork.

I was really inspired by Souther and Monica’s journey. What a great way to get to see the country, connect with people and friends, connect with communities, and generally just have a great time! It was inspiring for everyone involved, and I’ll definitely be thinking along these lines next time I want to support a book or project.

Map-Making at Blue Star Art

Posted in Journal

“The _______ of Dead Mans’ Land”

Recently, I participated in a really great event down in San Antonio (very near the Alamo!) called the Blue Star Art Family Day. Blue Star was once a really cool gallery in a warehouse, but has grown to have several galleries, studios, restaurants and other various shops and venues.

Once a year, they get a whole bunch of sponsors together and make a fully free and accessible event that is ALL about discovering (and expressing) your creativity. They have bands, free food, and of course.. some awesome art making! Sculpture, colorful toast-art, and break-dancing were some of the other contributions.

For my part I paired up with artist and friend Brooke Gassiot to help make a bunch of treasure maps with everyone. Over the course of a couple of weeks, Brooke and I designed 2 foot x 4 foot printing press for the initial map layout. It was really great to watch as the kids got their hands dirty with the inks and working the press. We made island templates out of wood for people to trace including a great ‘skull island’ which was pretty popular. From there, the maps were painted and finished out with about 20 some custom-made stamp designs, drawn by yours truly and made by the SUPER-awesome guys at Capital Stamp.

We had some truly amazing maps come out of the process. We were all so busy that I was only able to snap a few pictures; I wish I could have gotten more, but these will give you the idea. Big thanks to Mike, Carrie, Corinne, Rory , Emily Barker and the volunteers at Blue Star, and of course the guys at Cap Stamp. We could NOT have done it without your help! Thank you!

Blue Star ArtCapital Stamp, Brooke Gassiot


Just look at that happy face!

This map is great. The water spells out the word “Jose” who is their dad who couldn’t make it to the event.

A good example of some of the stamps we had on hand. YARRRGH! 

Load More