PROfile is a series of interviews with artists and creative souls who have built businesses around their craft and passion. We’ll dig deeper to try and find out everything you could want to know from seasoned pros who have experienced the full gamut of highs and lows that come with running a creative business.
You probably know by now that colour always catches my eye. When that colour is attached to artwork that lifts my mood, I am pretty much hooked. Atist and Pattern Designer Julie Marriott‘s work fits the bill exactly, there's something so joyful and uplifting about the style and colours of her paintings, that I simply had to have her as part of the PROfile series. Enjoy!
What was your first ‘proper’ job and how did you land it? Was it what you intended to do as a career?
My first ‘big girl' job was teaching as an art instructor at a children’s drawing and painting studio. They were looking for a strong art portfolio and experience working with kids. Though I didn’t stay long-term, that job was really valuable because it taught me how to break down art mediums and principals into their most basic, teachable steps.
Has art always been in your blood?
Definitely! I was homeschooled as a kid, so I had the encouragement and flexibility to fit in all sorts of art and craft projects growing up. One of my favourite memories is working on colouring pages with Prismacolor pencils as my mum read aloud to us. Somewhere along the way, I found that my favourite thing was painting and drawing, and since then making art has been a really natural and important part of my life.
What’s your main creative discipline and how did you get started in it?
Painting is my absolute favourite! I began as a kid through private painting lessons, learning through books and lots of practice at home.
Do you see yourself as introverted or extroverted, and does being either affect the way you work?
I lean toward the extrovert side. I’m a verbal processor, so making time for coffee or phone dates with other creative friends has really energised my business! I leave those chats full of new ideas and motivated to keep going.
What is your favourite kind of commission, and why?
Making a painting specifically for someone’s home is my favourite. Having a certain space, size and colour palette to work with really challenges me to break out of my familiar choices and try something new and unexpected. Knowing that someone will be living with my artwork on their walls is so exciting to me!
How did you know you were ready to have your own business?
I think my main feeling of ‘readiness' came from developing a style of painting that I was proud of, along with a body of work to put out into the world. Also, I realised that the creativity of the business side of selling my art was nearly as fun for me as the art-making!
How did you go about starting your own business?
I first set up shop on Etsy and got my first taste of selling my work to complete strangers. That felt so amazing! After using that platform for about a year, I moved to my own website and online shop and focused on crafting an aesthetic I loved.
How did you secure your first clients?
Social media has been such a pivotal part of my business! I started to reach out and get to know other artists and makers, and became dedicated to posting beautiful images as I created new work. My first clients were friends and family, but they really only became aware of my art by seeing me consistently sharing it online.
What is your typical daily routine like?
I’m a stay-at-home mum to my 2-year-old daughter, so my studio time has to fit around her schedule and my other daily tasks. Usually, I get up around 5:45am and get in an hour of computer work before the kiddo wakes up. Then we send my husband off to work, make breakfast, and get dressed for the day. Errands, play dates and housework usually follow, then lunch and the blessed nap time! My daughter is an amazing napper, so I typically get 2-3 more hours of time in the studio. This is my favourite time to paint because the light is so beautiful! Then comes dinner prep, family dinner and my daughter’s bedtime routine. About half the time I pick up work again in the evening, or my husband and I will relax and watch a movie together.
What traits do artists have that help with running a business?
I’ve learned that a common trait of many creative people is an unending stream of ideas, curiosities, and new paths we want to take. Being disciplined about what ideas to follow is a separate issue (one I need help with every day!), but I think the artist’s gift of imagining new and exciting possibilities is such a great asset.
How does being an introvert (or an extrovert) help or hinder you when it comes to business?
As an extrovert, I get such an energy boost from the process of collaboration and the back and forth of in-person events. I think this part of my personality helps me to really enjoy interacting with clients and workshop students, which is one of my favourite parts of my business.
Do you have a favourite medium or technique?
My favourite medium right now is acrylic. Last year, I challenged myself to intentionally use thicker, more painterly strokes. It took me a while to get comfortable, but painting this way has grown my style and made me fall in love with the painting process all over again.
What’s been the most beneficial business decision you’ve made?
This might sound simple, but dedicating myself to taking beautiful photos of my work and studio has made a big difference, even in how I seriously I take my own business. Because most of my sales are online, photos are my primary way of telling my brand story and of helping viewers to form a relationship with me and my art.
Artists and writers often describe the compulsion to work – do you experience an overwhelming desire to create something new?
Yes! I’ve always had the desire to make things, but this part of me went into overdrive after having my daughter. Having a baby was probably the first time I ever had a big barrier to creating, and I remember feeling almost claustrophobic because I had all these ideas I wanted to work on! Eventually, I found pockets of time to keep working, and haven’t slowed down since.
Do you ever feel alone in your work?
Sometimes, when I have an idea for a project and I’m worried about how it will be received.
How do you relax?
Getting outside really refreshes me. I love chilling out on a long walk with my daughter in the stroller and my earbuds in playing a favourite podcast or audiobook.
Where do you find inspiration?
A lot of my colour inspiration comes from looking at interiors online and in magazines. You’ll also find me drooling over images of gorgeous modern bouquets. I just love their slightly wild compositions and textures!
What advice would you give to your 21-year-old self?
Take advantage of your amazing art professors! I had such inspiring teachers in college and wished I would have talked with them even more about how they navigated their lives and studio practices.
What would you like to be remembered for?
Creating art that brings colour and joy to people’s homes and enriches their daily lives.
What’s been the best moment of your career so far?
Leading painting workshops! This year, I’ve had the opportunity to share my love of painting in some beautiful local venues. It’s still a bit surreal that these sweet students show up and actually want to learn from me!
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
My painting time, for sure. Early in my business, I realised that all I really have is the experience of creating. My art goes out into the world and my time with it is done. So I learned to nurture and protect my painting process because that’s the soul of my work.
What have been the biggest challenges or obstacles you’ve faced in your business and how did you overcome them?
Becoming a mother has definitely been my biggest challenge so far! Suddenly having such a limited amount of free time really inspired me to get serious about what I wanted to be doing. Setting specific goals for my creative time was a huge help, and I looked for all the little spare moments in my day while she napped to chip slowly away at them.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Having a dedicated space can make or break your art practice. The ability to just begin creating, free from the hurdle of setting up each time, can easily be the difference between making work and not making work.
If you could have dinner with any inspiring person (past or present), who would you choose?
I’d sit down with the painter Emily Jeffords and say, ‘Teach me everything!' I’m so inspired by how thoughtful she is about her work, and how she’s really embraced and harmonised her roles as artist and mother. That’s the life I’m striving for.
Want more? Head this way for more PROfile interviews.