F5: Jamie Davis on the Role of Music in His Life, His Love of LA’s Sandwiches + More

Jamie Davis, along with his brother Casey, founded Portola Paints in 1998. Born and raised in Los Angeles, the duo were mentored by their father, a high-end custom home builder. “My brother and I have been working side-by-side for 25 years, supporting each other,” Davis shares. “My father, Jim, is the person who had the original idea of starting this company when I was still in high school. He has been through thick and thin with us every step of the way, and I have always valued his opinion, especially when it comes to design and aesthetics.”

His dad’s 1969 Martin D45 guitar was the first piece of design to catch his attention. Detailed work along every inch, including an abalone inlay up and down the fretboard as well as all along the binding and the headstock, makes it a true work of art in Davis’ eyes. “It also plays and sounds so warm and beautiful. I joke with my dad about going through his collection of guitars and picking ‘teams.’ He always picks that one first!”

A man with tattoos on his left arm is seated at a table, facing the camera. Behind him are nine square colored panels arranged in a grid on the wall.

Jamie Davis, co-founder of Portola Paints

Davis inherited a deep love for design and color, finding his passion for the arts through the exploration of photography, painting, and architecture at an early age. When collaborating, the brothers drew inspiration from their artistic pursuits, extensive travels, and the Southern California landscape they call home. The work quickly grew into a palette of hues, textures, and finishes that would become the Portola brand.

“The first 10-15 years of Portola were really focused around product development and applications. It wasn’t until around 2010-2012 that we really started to find our voice as a company and as colorists. That is when I truly knew this is what I wanted to do,” says Davis. “In 2015, we were honored as one of five businesses by Martha Stewart’s American Made, which really confirmed that what we were doing was being noticed and embraced by the design community.”

Every paint color provides an opportunity to tell a story as it transforms each room. The Davis brothers put enormous amounts of time, and pride, into their customized palettes in an effort to reflect a client’s personal narrative within their space. With their vast knowledge of pigment and saturation – not to mention the ability to match all of their paints by eye – Portola provides top-notch service in company with a full spectrum of colors.

To do so, the brand honors traditions like blending every color by hand to ensure depth and accuracy. Their exclusive Lime Wash coating and other specialty products use ancient techniques to produce enduring looks similar to those of the past. That’s not to say that Portola isn’t living in the here and now. All of their products are engineered for environmental safety, with their paint formulas being low-odor and containing zero VOCs.

Today, Jamie Davis is joining us for Friday Five!

Four men sit in front of a white car with license plate "EUC 1". They are dressed in casual and semi-formal clothing, and the background shows trees.

Photo: Bruce McBroom

1. Music

One of my greatest passions in life is music. I love the classics as much as I love exploring new artists. I constantly quiz my kids on which Beatle is singing (my 6-year-old is actually pretty good at that game). My kids get a good balance of oldies, reggae, and hip hop. Also, a ton of Disney Hits! (Which aren’t all that bad!). One of my best friends and I formed a group many years ago called You, Me & A Beat Machine, which started out as a two-person band playing along to drum samples and beats that he made.

A collection of scissors, colored pencils, paintbrushes, and other art supplies organized in metal containers on a shelf.

Photo: Museo Art Academy

2. Family Rituals/Arts + Crafts with Kids

Weekends are sacred for me. It’s a time of recharging and family fun. My wife, Amy, is quite the chef, and we love to cook family meals as much as possible. My daughter even has her own chef’s knife and coat. We also have a 100-yard roll of kraft paper attached to our living room wall strictly dedicated to arts and crafts with the kiddos and wrapping gifts. There’s a heavy dose of coloring, drawing, and painting in my house. Having a 6-year-old and a 3-year-old has truly reminded me of how joyous it can be to be young and excited about new things.

Several large sandwiches are stacked on a table, showing layers of deli meats, cheese, lettuce, and sauces inside sliced bread.

Photo: Jessie Clapp

3. Local Los Angeles Sandwich Shops

Whenever I have an off-site meeting or go on an adventure with my family, I stop at a local sandwich shop. I have spots all over Los Angeles that I’ll go out of my way to visit depending on what part of town I’m in. Bay Cities in Santa Monica is a must any time I’m over there. Larchmont Village Wine Spirits & Cheese is a favorite, as well as Potato Chips deli in Hollywood.

The image shows the Tumblr logo in dark blue, featuring the word "tumblr." with a lowercase "t" and a period at the end.

I love getting lost in Tumblr. I find so much inspiration for colors and textures just scrolling through the site.There are many folders on my phone with the images I’ve saved – I love photography, surfing, vintage cars, fashion, and, obviously, design. There is so much cool unexpected stuff that I’ve come across.

Close-up of a person playing a black electric guitar, focusing on their hands and fingers pressing the strings. The background is softly lit.

Photo: Dutko

5. Guitars + Vintage Instruments

As previously stated, I love music! I have been playing music most of my life and have grown up around it, too. My father, Jim, has an amazing collection of vintage instruments, and I have just begun my own. Some of my favorites are my 1940’s Martin Uke and my 60’s Gibson 4-string tenor guitar. One of many things that I have grown to appreciate in life are finely crafted things.



Work using Portola Paints:

A kitchen with wooden cabinets, a central island with three barstools, an oven, and pendant lights. The dining area includes a wooden table and black chairs. Large windows provide natural light.

Coda Roman Clay as used in a project by Aker Interiors \\\ Photo: Michael Clifford

A marble sink with gold fixtures sits below a large mirror and two wall-mounted lights in a dark green bathroom with a small plant on the countertop.

Lone Park Roman Clay as used in a project by Studio Life Style \\\ Photo: Sam Frost

A minimalist kitchen with dark wood countertops, a white vase with flowers on an island, a black oven with a range hood, and pendant lights hanging from an exposed beam ceiling.

Saint Sauvant Roman Clay as used in a project by Madelynn Furlong Hudson \\\ Photo: Nick Hudson

A bathroom with a marble sink, wooden stool, framed mirror, and a lit ceiling light. The walls and ceiling have a textured taupe finish.

Simmer Down Lime Wash as used in a project by Jake Arnold \\\ Photo: Michael Clifford

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