Julie's Etsy site link is at the bottom of this interview.
I am an artist and printmaker newly arrived in New York City. I am a traveler at heart, and spent the last year working as an Art Gallery Director aboard several cruise ships. I’ve been blessed to have visited countries from Argentina to Norway… 79 cities in all! Most of my recent work is inspired by the colors, scenes and atmospheres in the different places I’ve visited. I graduated in 2007 from the University of Tampa, where I was the first student to obtain a concentration in Printmaking. I also attended College for Creative Studies (CCS) in my home city of Detroit. Much of my early work relates to my experience growing up amidst the industrial collapse in Michigan, and I hope to be able to give back to my home state in the future.
How did you get started in Printmaking?
Describe where you work
Until recently, my office was on board a floating city. Working on cruise ships was certainly a unique experience! Our gallery was home to many contemporary art works, as well as prints by the great masters Picasso, Dali, Rembrandt, Miro, Chagall, Matisse and Goya. I got to play the hostess at exhibitions and parties, plus give auctions and seminars to our cruising audience. When I came back state-side, I set up a small studio in my home that allowed me to do small linocuts, drawings, and paintings. However, I just arrived in New York about ten days ago*, and I’m still in search of a studio at this point. Things are really up in the air, but now I have more time to focus on my Etsy endeavors! (*Note - Julie's Interview was conducted a few months ago).
That’s such a hard question because I really enjoy certain aspects of everything I’ve tried! I love the small, handmade quality of linocuts, and I find carving blocks to be incredibly soothing. Etching and engraving are so physically demanding, but I love working in the tradition of master printers like Rembrandt and Durer. Sometimes you pull a print off the press and it just surprises the heck out of you… My truest love would probably be screen printing -- there is just so much wide open potential, you can really do anything with it. I love to use screens and make mixed media monoprints, using all kinds of found objects. Sometimes I’ll collage things, or hand-paint on top of what I’ve printed. I don’t have access to a screen printing studio right now, but I hope that changes in the near future.
What’s your creative process for any given print?
A big part of the reason I love printmaking is that your finished work never comes out exactly as you had envisioned it. For this reason, my process has become highly experimental and very much free-form. I am usually working on several different series at the same time, and I add elements and layers as they come to me. The best works are the ones that evolve on their own, with no particular idea in mind at all. That being said, there are certain times,particularly when working on larger pieces, when I do a lot of sketching and pre-planning, but I usually get to a point where the work takes on a life of its own and my plans go out the window.
What do you enjoy most about printmaking?
What’s your least favorite part of the process?
I have a really hard time writing descriptions for my work. I’ve met a lot of other artists who dread this part, too. It’s so difficult to put words behind what you’re trying to do, but at the same time, your audience really needs to hear why you make certain choices and what your work is about.
What are your inspirations?
This part is really multi-faceted for me. I take a lot of technical inspiration from Rembrandt and Picasso, my two favorite artists, because they each revolutionized printmaking -- and the entire future of the art world -- in their own way. But a lot of my work is based on personal experiences. Memories of growing up in Michigan, watching factories close and suburban areas fall to waste and everything just rusting and falling apart;there is a certain haunting beauty in that, and for a long time I made prints of factory after factory, trying to work through what that experience meant to me.
Once I started traveling, it seemed that all the dreams I had while “stuck at home” were coming true. I visited Rembrandt’s studio, Picasso’s house, the Great Pyramids, and spent my birthday in Paris. It was such a profound experience!! Now I work to incorporate the colors and moods of places I’ve been, and make a representation of what it felt like for me to be there.
How has your work evolved since you started?
Quite simply, I’ve become happier. My early work was dark, drab, brooding… now I’m not afraid to use bright colors and really make the image come alive. I’ve dropped the formalities and let myself explore mark-making again. At the same time, I’ve gotten neater and more precise. It’s more about the process than the finished product for me now.
I really just have to wait them out. Whenever I have trouble focusing (which is often, I have zero attention span sometimes), I just have to do something else to break the tension -- whether it’s an easy creative project like making a collage or taking some photos, or doing something completely different like seeing a funny movie or calling my best friend for a long chat. It always comes back to me in the end.
How do you promote your work?
I have an online gallery with Etsy, and my friends are hugely instrumental to my exposure. My network is really spread out, thanks to cruising, and I keep in touch with everyone through Facebook, so I’m always posting my new work and adventures online. Now that I’m in New York, I’m hoping to increase my exposure by entering some art shows and investigating galleries in the area.
Any other comments or advice for others?
There are some things in life where you just have to dive in and do. Printmaking is really like that. If you want to try new things, experiment, test your potential, just grab some ink and go for it! Do whatever comes naturally to you and enjoy the process.
Julie’s Etsy Site