In the Studio with Julie O’Sullivan
What does a day in your art practice look like?
I have a day job so my art practice begins right after work. I come home and join an online zoom art & meditation meeting and dive right into whatever is lying about on my desk. There is something always in the works. The weekends are when I get to really get busy. I try to keep active in shows so if there is a theme, I try to do something new and different for that theme. I always want to evolve and grow.
What would life be like without art?
I wouldn’t want to live in a world where there was no art. I would be so uninspired and boring to be around. I really have nothing much to talk about to anyone other than something that is creative in some way.
What is the hardest part of creating your art?
Blocks! I hate blocks. I am just coming out of a block I had for a few years. It was frustrating and maddening to sit there and have nothing come to me. The other thing I struggle with is finishing a piece. I have the bad habit of overworking it or getting too into the minute details that nobody will really see unless they are super close. I have learned to ask my husband his thoughts from time to time and he is pretty good at helping me find a stopping point. I am lucky that way.
What inspires you?
I am really inspired by my peers! I love talking to other artists and finding out what makes them tick. I also married a European guy so we travel all over Europe pretty regularly and he takes me to the most amazing places. I am lucky to have such a supportive and loving husband. He keeps me going when I am stuck or walking in circles. My favorite art museum is in Rotterdam, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art and I could roam for hours there. So inspiring, as is Miro’s studios in Majorca. Venice is my favorite place and I aspire to be in a show there.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Start therapy as early as possible. It will come in very handy when life hands you lemons. Be brave, try new things. You look fine, people will always judge you for your outside so show them how great your inside is.
Who would you most like to collaborate with? Why?
I love collaborating with Edwin Vasquez. He is amazing to work with and is always working on new things. He has a million ideas and a thousand projects all going at once.
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
Just breathe. The more stressed I am, the shallower I breathe and I end up getting easily overwhelmed and exasperated. Pause a moment and get your bearings again. Everything is as it should be, good or bad, life is full of lessons.
If you could change anything about the art world, what would it be?
That is a good question. I feel like I haven’t been in the art world enough to have an answer.
What do you do to keep yourself motivated and interested in your work?
I am really motivated by my peers, by interacting with other artists. I love hearing what makes them tick and seeing what they produce, how they interpret an inspiration. They inspire me to think outside of the box and explore new ideas bravely. My cat will actually come and get me and lead me into the studio. He makes sure I spend time in there. Such a good art cat!
If you had the chance to live during a different artistic movement other than now, which one would you choose? and why?
I would have loved to have been Miro’s neighbor. His forays into Surrealism but with a personal style, sometimes also veering into Fauvism and Expressionism is very inspiring (yes, I copied most of that sentence from Wikipedia)
How has personal experience influenced your creativity?
I very much process trauma through my work. I have gone through some very difficult times and when I can’t talk about it, I paint it out. I find it very therapeutic to paint and release that emotion in a way that creates something very beautiful. There is a lot of pain and recovery in my pieces.
What do you wish to accomplish with your art?
I want to be a professional, selling artist. Full time with no day job. I want to make people feel happy when they look at my piece, even when it represents a painful period in my life. There is a lot of joy and hope in my work.
What are your words of wisdom for someone starting out in your field?
Meet other artists. Go to shows and network. Ask questions and really look at their work. Even if you don’t like it, if you look at it long enough something new might jump out at you. Relax, there is no need to rush. Enjoy the process and let yourself grow organically.
How do you make the leap from an idea in your head to the action you produce?
I rarely have much more than a flicker of what I want to create in my head. I can never manifest it no matter how hard I try so I use it as a jumping off point and see where it takes me. I will put down a texture on canvas, stare at it, run my fingers over it and I usually will figure out what the next step is but never what the end result should be. It is just that, a leap. I am lucky that I have learned to go with the flow, it prevents frustration and disappointment.