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Life and Work with Julie Fordham

Today we’d like to introduce you to Julie Fordham.

Julie, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Staring at a young age, I began pouring my heart and soul into sketchbooks. I struggled. I wasn’t quite sure how to express and communicate the things I was feeling. The beginning books are nothing more than a compilation of song lyrics, magazine images, and the ramblings of a lost teenage girl. But as I grew up my art never stopped and working in my books continued to be a constant practice. Creating daily became something I needed to do in order to feel like myself. Meditative. I don’t think I even considered any other career but one that involved creating. So, in 2002, I started my first year of art college.

Now, almost 13 years later, I have continued creating art. Most of my pieces are on canvas with acrylic and oil – these portraits combine people immersed in symbolism using natural elements: flowers, animals, insects. They are heavily planned and executed over long periods of time. But often still include exploratory elements from my journals. In some paintings, I’ve stitched creatures or embroidered flowers. I’ve cut holes in my canvases to another layer beneath. Or filled these holes with layers of resin, acrylic paintings hidden between the layers.

The short story is I started creating at a young age and I haven’t been able to stop.

Has it been a smooth road?
There are always bumps.

Art college was a very expensive choice for me. One that very quickly improved my skill level and exposed me to many very talented people.

But it is one that has financially caused me to not work solely as a full-time artist. I would caution those interested in attending art school to really look into the finances that may be available to them outside of student loans. Really consider what they wish to do with their art. What is life goal? Does art college play a vital role in that goal? Are there other more affordable options?

Outside of financial bumps, I will admit after moving back to my hometown of Atlanta, I have yet to find a place where I as an artist feel like I and my art fit. This is challenging as an awkward introvert. Putting yourself out there. Meeting new people. Attending events. Supporting other artists is vital!

There is a lot going on in Atlanta, even if I don’t find a place to belong as an artist. I feel really confident that I will make my own place and find others that fit with me.

Young ladies – make your own space!

So, as you know, we’re impressed with your work– tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
Portraits are my favorite.

I love painting people. I do commissions for people but prefer to add my own elements to them. Gifts for weddings and new family additions.

One of my favorite ideas that I have been working on our “living paintings.” A collection of paintings that grow and change as your life changes. Usually, it starts with two portraits on multiple canvases celebrating a wedding. And then, adding other smaller canvases later as children are born.

I have a tendency to be very tedious in my work. Attention to detail is very important to me. I continue to work on something until I am completely happy with it.

What advice would you give to someone at the start of her career?
Starting a career in the art world is rough and takes time.

Stay true to yourself.
Don’t make art for anyone else but you.
The right people will respond to your truth and honesty.

Get used to hearing no.
Do not take it personally.

But also don’t give up.
You have a voice that deserves to be heard and an experience that is unique to you.
Share it!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Brandon Fordham

Getting in touch: VoyageATL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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