Jamie and Casey Davis continue to set the tone for LA and borders beyond with the homegrown Portola Paints & Glazes
Written by Jenn Thornton | Photos Courtesy of Portola Paints & Glazes
Brothers Jamie and Casey Davis, co-founders of the family owned, Los Angeles-based Portola Paints & Glazes, are something rare in the paint world—present. Since launching in 1998, they still man their own store and answer the phone. Rather than follow the lead of behemoth brands that have homogenized paint, Portola has personalized it, creating a vast catalog of hand-blended color with narrative and nuance.
The Davises have creativity in their DNA. Their father, Jim Davis, is a contractor of high-end residential homes whose explorations of Old World painting techniques helped kindle the brothers’ own interest in paint. Eventually, all roads led to Portola and its painstakingly produced paint, much of it custom-created and all meticulously accounted for with a name, number and formula.
“We initially relied mainly on specialty finishes,” says Jamie. “We weren’t really sure where our place was in the regular paint world. Now that we’ve been at this every day for almost 15 years, we’ve taken our experience of working with designers, architects and homeowners, and are able to really see what people want.” Beyond that, there’s the brothers’ gut-level belief in trial and error—sometimes years-long experimentations are necessary to root out exactly what makes a color work, combining pigments to achieve a certain depth and saturation. “So that a color feels a certain way,” Jamie explains, “so that there’s attitude on the wall.”
In Los Angeles, the vibe is still mostly monochromatic, though the city itself has been a breeding ground for bold artistic cross-pollination. “There are a lot of trendsetters in LA, and I think we’re fortunate to be in a place where people are pushing the envelope and trying new things,” says Jamie, with one caveat. “The downside is that it can be a little difficult to stand out. For us, it’s a matter of absorbing what’s around us, but also working on our own vision and forecasting what we think is going to be next.”
Next is Portola’s new collection “Fade to Black,” a rich palette of muted undertones with robust complementary accents—soft against strong. Still, there’s always Portola’s pull toward the intangible. “Our goal is not to smack you in the face with color,” Jamie says. “When you walk into a room with our colors, we want you to think, wow, I’m not exactly sure why, but I really want to be in here.
There’s a certain romance we try to create.” And so they have. Not only does Portola do a brisk business, it’s hyper-local too. “Community is a big part of what we do,” Jamie says. “The family-owned business, the eco-friendly aspects of our products and manufacturing process; we source materials and make everything locally in Los Angeles. It’s an important part of our business.”
As collaborators, each Davis has their domain—Jamie spearheads creative, Casey handles operations—but there’s crossover, the occasional move toward middle ground. “We’re connected in a way that nobody else is,” says Jamie of the innateness between brothers. “We’re both after the same goal.” An assuredness that stems as much from the intimacy that a ground-up operation cultivates as it does bloodlines.
If you stop by the brothers’ Hollywood flagship store, you’ll be certain to meet them both. “Right now, you can call or come into the store and actually brainstorm with us,” Jamie continues. “We create the colors, we mix the colors… It’s not some clerk pulling pre-made paint off the shelf. We’ve been working with these products for years and years—you can’t fake experience.”
Portola Paints and Glazes
8213 W 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048
323.655.2211 | www.PortolaPaints.com