People of Lincoln Heights: James Naish


James Naish. I do decorative iron work. I do a lot of fabrication for other people and I also do my own design work. It's pretty functional. It's gates, furniture, and a bit of jewelry as well.

This is technically Lincoln Heights. We're near the confluence of the LA River and the Arroyo Seco. We are also close to a few famous thrift stores, St. Vincent De Paul and the Goodwill Center.

I have been either living or working here for twelve years. I've lived in this compound for about seven years and I have my own studio here.

Of course, having this new ALTA loft building here has been the most dramatic change. It's sort of a downtown style loft apartment space that's brought in some new neighbors. There's probably more people coming out from Silver Lake and Echo Park to come visit these thrift stores, but it's always been a bit popular. It hasn't seen the sort of radical change that Highland Park or Echo Park have seen, but you do see more artists moving in. So far it's nothing as dramatic as what I've seen in Highland Park.

Well, the rents are certainly cheaper here and Lincoln Heights is probably one of the older neighborhoods in Los Angeles, like Boyle Heights. It has a lot of history and it has a lot of beautiful old houses, which does appeal to artists. Downtown is more expensive, so I think there are probably slightly cheaper studios around here.

I love the environment here. There's lots of interesting people around. Everyone helps each other out. We have a few painters here, we have artists here. I help them do some welding, and they help me do some painting, so it's actually a wonderful community and experience here.

Well, I do take my bike out to go up the river because the bike path starts right here. It's convenient. Sometimes when I have meetings, I'll actually go for a stroll along the river because a lot of people don't really know the river that well and because the part where it's un-cemented starts immediately here. It's a great access point. I occasionally go take pictures, and it's a nice place to escape from the city.

In this particular compound here everyone knows each other and helps out. There are probably thirty people that live here. We're becoming friends with these new people who live in the ALTA lofts. Besides that, there's nothing dramatic in terms of community activities.

The above interview is transcribed and edited from the following interview:

Story continues below

We are dedicated to providing you with articles like this one. Show your support with a tax-deductible contribution to KCET. After all, public media is meant for the public. It belongs to all of us.

Keep Reading