Bay Area artist Jay Nelson has always been into building tree houses, and now he does it for a living. Starting a few years back with a couple of installations in local art galleries, Jay, who has no formal carpentry training, taught himself how to build the imaginary structures that were floating around in his head. We talked to Jay about how he has been able to turn his passion into a business, learning more about his philosophy of life and his definition of success.

This is the pilot episode of Working Title, a collaboration between KQED and Little Paper Planes, hosted by Kelly Lynn Jones of LPP and Andrew Martin Scott, co-owner of Needles and Pens. Through this program, which will include videos, interviews, articles and essays, we will explore how local artist entrepreneurs are re-inventing the American Dream, creating alternative economies and redefining success in the Bay Area. Stay tuned.

Jay Nelson Builds Dream Houses 2 April,2014KQED Arts

  • Brendan Monroe

    Awesome interview guys! Nice photography too. I can’t wait to see more.

  • paul wackers

    great interview. i look forward to seeing more

  • Dianne

    Interesting! Good luck to the artists who help keep the Bay Area the interesting place it is…..

  • Josh

    Who are you two talking about? I think it was a nice piece. Keep up the good work.

  • eleanor

    Great work! I like the mix of interview and thoughts from the hosts. The filming is nice too.

    • Great point about the hosts. I love their structure of the piece.

  • Victoria

    Terrific work from two very inspiring creative minds in the Bay area. –look forward to seeing more!

  • Heather

    Great film and topic. Very engaging and interesting. thx!

  • shari

    What a great story on a local artisan! The filming and hosts are terrific! Looking forward to your second Working Title!!

  • Feel free to make a suggestion for future subjects here!

    • Rachel

      Hi there,
      I just thought I would share my partner and my way of dealing with some of the undercurrents I am hearing in the last piece you present. Thank you for your consideration of such interesting subjects.

      Best regards,

    • Brooke Howsley

      Oh, please profile a floral designer – maybe Jill and Alethea at Studio Choo, or Nicole Sillapere (I think she’s in Big Sur now). My ultimate daydream would be to have you come to Austin and profile my floral studio!

  • Hanz


  • We have deleted a few comments from this board. For more information, visit KQED’s Terms of Service:

  • Very inspiring. I agree with this idea of hard work leading to success, though a faith in such is often tested. It is very encouraging to see some one put forth their own unique model of it. I look forward to seeing more great examples on this show. There’s no road map for being an artist but I would love to ride in one of Jay’s creations for part of the journey. 🙂

  • soupy

    Jay has a rare kind of dedication to his vision that will inspire anyone who is willing to see through his eyes

  • Terry

    I really enjoyed watching this video. It is wonderful to seethe three creative people interacting in this video. I look forward to more!

  • Lorrie

    Thanks for showing artists at work — looking forward to more work in progress

  • noel

    I think this will be a wonderful program. Inspiring! If they could just avoid the word “like.”

  • Sandif

    Nice Video and Subject matter. Congrats. And I’m trying to be positive, constructive, supportive in my questions (because I am in fact positive, and supportive of the people and ideas in the piece). But: in the interest of reality for those of us who don’t know everyone in the video, how much does Jay Nelson make a year? How much does he charge per tree house, average? How much does he pay in rent of mortgage? How did he kickstart his life, i.e, did he inherit the house/studio, and is he working through a trust fund? Living in Frisco and being all art at the same time is not a recipe for frugal living.

  • mountainsofmoss

    Wonderful work. Thank you for taking the time to make this for all to see. Aside from the documentary and interview, the work in itself is great. My one suggestion: MAKE IT LONGER. I feel like we are just scratching the surface here…some of us have a bigger attention span that you’d think these days….

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