After graduating, Christensen taught Junior High School art and later became an associate art director for the New Era, a LDS magazine for teens. During this time, he also was a freelance artist and continued his own work. He joined the Visual Arts Faculty at BYU in 1976 and held a position until 1997. He traveled with students all over Mexico and Europe.
On January 30, 1996, Christensen was invited to deliver a university forum address. The title of his address was "Imagination." In the speech, Christensen expressed his belief that all people are creative, some just feed their imagination more than others.
In 2012, Christensen was one of two main artists featured at the Woodbury Art Museum's exhibit, Wet into Wet. His art is heavily influenced by myths, fables, and fantasies and always has a unique and recognizable flair which makes it his own. Christensen's art was also featured in the book Passage by Faith: Exploring the Inspirational Art of James C. Christensen.
In 2013, the Springville Museum of Art displayed an exhibit titled Curiouser and Curiouser that includes work from his two daughters, Cassandra and Emily. The exhibit was the most comprehensive collection of his major paintings up to that time. It aimed to illustrate how artistic heritage is displayed in the Christensen family.
Christensen was the featured artist for BYU's 2014 Homecoming Spectacular celebrations. His popular art character, Everyman, was also portrayed by Pat Debenham in dance adaptations at the Homecoming Spectacular ceremony. The same year, Christensen was commissioned to paint murals for the Nauvoo Temple and the Provo City Center Temple with fellow artists Robert L. Marshall, Gary Smith, and Douglas Fryer.
In 2015, he was one of the alumni highlighted by the College of Fine Arts and Communications for the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Harris Fine Arts Center.
Christensen is married and has five children, two of whom, Cassandra Christensen Barney and Emily Christensen McPhie, are also alumnae of the College of Fine Arts and Communications at BYU and are notable artists. He and his wife, Carole, are co-chairs of the Mormon Arts Foundation.
Christensen has published three books: A Journey of the Imagination: The Art of James Christensen (1994), Voyage of the Basset (1996), and Rhymes and Reasons (1997). His work has been featured in many other books, including A Shakespeare Sketchbook (2001), which he illustrated.
James Christensen passed away on January 8th, 2017.
- KUTV - 'Utah artist James C. Christensen dies at age 74' (Jan 8 2017)
- Y news, Turn left of reality and find BYU Homecoming featured artist James C. Christensen (October 2014)
- Believing is Seeing, Alumni News, By Charlene Renberg Winters (Summer 2014)
- The Daily Herald - Springville art exhibit shows one family's artistic heritage (8 December 2013)
- The Deseret News - 'Passage by Faith' features a collection of whimsical, thought-provoking art by James C. Christensen (2 Feb 2013)
- The Deseret News - 'Passage by Faith: Exploring the Art of James C. Christensen' (1 Dec 2012)
- The Daily Herald - Arts Hot Ticket: Fluid flourish (24 May 2012)
- The Daily Herald - Water works: Woodbury ups cool quotient with 'Wet into Wet' (17 May 2012)
- Mormon Artist - James Christensen (December 2010/January 2011 issue)
- Mormon Times - LDS artist joins forces with 2 daughters for art show (13 Sept 2009)
- BYU Magazine, Spring 2007:The Art of Family (Spring 2007)
- BYU Magazine Alumni Reports: Colleges Honor Alumni (Fall 2005)
- BYU Magazine, "Living Left of Reality," (November 1996)
- Utah Business Magazine - James C. Christensen: A Fish Out of Water. Interview by John Blodgett (1 June 2005)
- Christensen, James. "Exercising your Imagination." University Forum Address, BYU, 30 Jan 1996.