Julie West Interview:
Global Location: UK
American born and UK-based artist Julie West graduated in 1998 with a BFA in illustration. Since then, she has worked as a web designer, illustrator, and painter. Her work has been shown internationally, and she has been commissioned by companies such as Electronic Gaming Monthly, The Alternative Press, Earth Products, Flow Snowboards, Rockpile Magazine, Complex Magazine, and many others.
Her work relies heavily on people and environments. Often quirky, bizarre, or ironic, Julie looks heavily at the way people live and define themselves, as well as the environments which they create for themselves. Studying these details often reveals the unique moments that make us human. Julie works both traditionally, with gouache, acrylic, ink and cut paper, as well as digitally.
AP: What inspires your art?
JW: Inspiration is a tough thing to isolate for me. I draw my inspiration from the heritage where I live, from my children and from the lines and colors that are put down on the canvas. They all seem to merge when I paint. I really just clear my head and then wait for the signals. Playing off each move I make in a painting, playing off mistakes I make in the painting and layering all that visual dialog into a full creation. Painting seems to be the time I think less.
AP: What is the relationship between technique and content in your work?
JW: Technique is the fun part. Exploring the infinite ways to create imagery. Whether it is using a blow torch to burn wood, or a razor blade to cut tape into a design. I love the exploration of technique. It is the “tool bag” I use to express the content. The content is always a visual conversation I am having with myself. A mental movie poster of the time I am creating. Sometime it gets political, sometimes pure wit and many times it becomes almost like a graphic design problem that I am creating and solving myself. My mantra has developed on its own as Black City White Boy, trying to understand my place in history, preserving the cultures down here in the south and making yall city folk some great art. The exploration of all techniques, creating new ones and altering old ones is a big part of expressing my content.
AP: Describe your first experience of making art and how it affected your life’s journey
JW: The first experience of creating artwork was when the OCD of the processes involved clicked like a cog into a wheel. It just became an compulsion, a never ending treasure hunt. I remember telling my grandma that I was starting to paint, and her being a creative also, was like be careful… it can take over your life. She was warning me that it will become an obsession. She was right. The first experience only led to the hundreds and hundreds of paintings I have created.
AP: Describe your most recent experience of making art.
JW: Most recently, I have put down the brish for the most part and am exploring a new technique that I am developing. I create handcut images onto the wood panels by simply using tape, razor blade and some spraypaint. I am trying to take the 10 years of painting and break it down into patterns and images that have a more indigenous feel. The designs I am using for ArtsProjekt come from this new style. Almost a block print feel. On the larger paintings I am creating this year, I am going to take that handcut style and mutate it with the painting style I have developed over the years to create mega-paintings. Exploding the hard edge with the painterly style.
AP: Take us on a guided tour through a day in your life as an artist
JW: I get up and the butler serves me a meal, gas the jet up and fly across the country for inspiration…. Hell naw. I wake up, change the babies diapers, feed the 4 year old, clean the kitchen, vacuum the house and then play with a 1 year old and 4 year old on top of my artwork. The house is full of pieces I am working on and I work on them in between being a Dad. Right now the living room has a 4’ x 6’ piece that doubles as a hot wheel track. In the hallway is a painting I am finishing up that we use as a fort. In the “back forty” I have my studio that houses usually 10 -15 painting I work on at night when the family is asleep. Once or twice a week I travel to downtown Atlanta to paint at a studio on MLK or paint live at some establishment that will let me. I am a self described art hermit/hustler.