Alright, we need some background! Tell us who you are and where you are from!
My name is Julia Contacessi and I’m an artist working and living in Connecticut. It’s where I was born and grew up. I moved a short distance away when I went to college in Brooklyn, but came back after I graduated.
When did you decide art was for you? How did it all begin?
I’ve always been creating as long as I can remember, but I also can tell you about different points in my journey when I’ve changed direction and where that has lead me today!
When I was about 3 years old my mother joined a playgroup with other moms that had toddler age children. The structure for the playgroup was a craft or art project, snack and playtime. When craft time was over the norm was that all the children ran over for snack, except me. Everyone knew that I wanted to keep working on my project. That was the beginning.
I went on to art school for graphic design. I loved it and all things design. At that time I was very focused on photography as well. After finishing school I went right to work in the field and continued on for almost 15 years, but I always was dreaming up side businesses — either food based as my husband is in that industry or in the design and maker space. I had a candle company and stationery design studio too. After my son was born in 2009 I felt a new creative energy. We moved into a new home with loads of blank walls. I brushed off my paints and began to work. I decided in 2013 to leave my full-time gig and focus on my own business, painting.
What inspires you and where do you look for new ideas?
My inspiration comes from the beauty and details of our surroundings. Color and the nuance of light play a huge role. I’m also a details person. I find beauty in the simplest of things. I guess, as a way to hold on to these bits of beauty I see in life, I started creating art. Each piece I create is a selfish attempt to recreate that beauty. New ideas are usually born out of the process and while experimenting with paints and materials. Of course it’s also easy to be inspired by other artists, but it’s usually a detail or small part of someone else’s work that I draws in me in.
What is a day in the life of Julia like?
My days are bookended with all things Neo (my son) and family. The middle consists of all things painting. I carve out time for creating, photographing, organizing inventory, connecting with partners or deliveries, web updates, social shares and the financials. Maybe not each of these buckets are touched everyday but all are touched throughout the course of the week. Most studio days are pretty quiet and that’s just the way I like it!
Where is the coolest place you have seen your own work? Or maybe some cool collabs you are excited about?
I was beyond thrilled with a recent collaboration with Sugarmat, a designer yoga mat company that embodies so much of what brings me joy in this world — beauty and balance, along with quality in the details. It’s a perfect example of what inspires me. Together we developed the Healing Heart Yoga Mat Collection. For this collection, I wanted to share light-filled and very fluid works to deliver a sense of journey that leads to warmth and love. Gold tones felt right. They are glamorous and luxurious, but can also be an awakening, literally with the shining, metallic properties. Heikel and the team at Sugarmat were wonderful to collaborate with through the process. It’s just an amazing fit and I can’t be more thrilled with the pieces.
Where would you like to see yourself in the future?
Always creating! I have daily changing dreams about where I want to take things. That is what I think it most exciting; there is always something new on the horizon. However, the most concrete future vision I have is a beautiful, ridiculously spacious two-story studio where I can do everything!
Do you ever feel the stress of competition? If so, how do you handle it?
Of course. I think it’s only natural. When you start to get crazy and all caught up in your head, take a break and take a breath. Give yourself some space. It’s hard, but I find that I don’t create my best work when I’m all caught up like that. I just have to find my sense of calm.
Any advice for aspiring artists?
Follow your passion, but don’t forget it takes hard work and refinement. Just like anything else, if you put in the hours and structure a plan, your craft will flourish.