If you've been a follower of SGD for a while, you are already familiar with the work of our next artist. Gina Julian's art was included in the HGTV Magazine story on Shauna's house last summer and featured on the cover. Needless to say, she is one of our favorites. Her studies on perspective and color seem simple on the surface but encourage you to spend some time and experience the impact of color and emotion. We recently caught up with this Franklin, Tennessee based artist.
SGD: Can you briefly walk us through your story? How did you get started and how did you get to where you are today?
GJ: Like most creatives, I became interested in art when I was very young. I loved to paint and draw, and eventually took commercial art classes in high school. The skills I learned in high school landed me a job as a graphic designer, and from there I worked in the publishing world, in ad agencies as a senior art director, and also a web developer and designer. After 20+ years in the digital world I became interested in interior design and was invited to decorate a bedroom in a local show house. I loved creating my own art for my spaces, so I made an optical art (op art) painting to go over the vanity. That painting was eventually featured in a story on domino.com and the rest is history!
SGD: Has it been a smooth road? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
GJ: I don’t think it’s been terribly rocky, but there are always some challenges. My biggest challenge is that I’m a control freak (if you couldn’t tell from my art) which means I like to do everything myself. While this ensures that the job gets done my way, it can also make for some very long work days and nights. Also, I need very good light to make sure my paintings are precise, and there never seems to be enough daylight hours in the day, especially in winter.
SGD: What are you most proud of and what sets you apart from other artist?
GJ: I’m most proud that my art is distinctly “me”. It speaks to so many parts of my personality and my life experience. I’m an adrenaline junkie and a natural born risk-taker. My use of flat color was inspired by doing web and interface design all those years. My love of bright color is straight from the crayon boxes of my childhood, and the straight lines are a direct result of my OCD tendencies. Precision is my jam, and I find it very relaxing to paint a perfectly straight line. You can see all of these things in my work, and I’m so happy that I can share a part of myself with others in this way.
SGD: What advice would you give to someone at the start of his or her career?
GJ: If you’re struggling to find a style that is uniquely yours, look to the things that make you, you. Find your passions and your quirks and figure out how to use them to your advantage. Do you have a green thumb? Perhaps nature should be your subject matter. Got a love of fashion? High fashion figurative works might be your thing. I took my love of exactness, graphics and color and turned it into my life’s work.
I hear young artists all the time say “I just want to create beautiful things” or “I want to make people happy.” And while those are worthwhile endeavors, the only thing that’s going to set you apart from the crowd is to do something that only you can do because it’s a part of you. Others may try to copy you, but because it came from your personal passions and natural tendencies, they will always be poor imitations at best.
SGD: What artists do YOU admire and why?
GJ: I’m a huge art collector myself, and true to my nature I’ve noticed that I love two kinds of art: abstracts with a strong focus on color, and colorful realism or photorealism (gotta love that precision!). Works in my personal collection include art from: Mallory Page, Brian Tull, Christina Baker, Christopher Stott, Denise Stewart-Senabria, Tjalf Sparnaay, Rolando Rosler and Vita Kobylkina.
My all-time favorite artist is Wayne Thiebaud, and I would die a happy woman to have one of his oil paintings in my collection. His use of color to create a halo effect on his subjects still baffles me to this day.
SGD: If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
GJ: No doubt about it, I’d be a pastry chef. I am a sugar addict and my love of baked goods runs deep! Consequently, when I’m not painting my straight-lined op art I’m usually painting sweet treats like donuts or macarons just for fun. Food is a wonderful subject matter that everyone can relate to. Plus, you can eat the models when you’re done. :)