Spotlight: Julie Paschkis, Artist
Inspired by nature, folk art and patterns, Julie Paschkis is happiest when she is making things. While her work has a distinctive style, she is not afraid of trying new things and dabbling in new mediums. Her love of a challenge stretches her creative boundaries in painting, illustration and fabric design.
How did you find yourself on an artist’s path? Always there? Lightbulb moment? Dragged kicking and screaming? Evolving?
I’ve made art my whole life, but I did not think that my whole life would be making art until I was halfway through college.
I realized that I was happiest when I was making things. That was true then and it is still true now.
What inspires you? Are there recurring themes in your work?
I am inspired by nature, by folk art, by pattern. I am excited by things that are made by hand, that are imperfect, that are surprising, that are filled with color and pattern and life.
Here are some vintage children’s book illustrations that inspire me:
What different creative mediums do you play around with? Does one lead directly to another, or do they just kind of pop up?
I like experimenting with new materials and techniques. I often don’t really know what I’m doing so I forge my own way of doing things. My friends push me in new directions. For example I made an articulated paper doll at a friend’s “crafternoon”. It was so much fun that I made a lot more, including some that were life size. Another friend suggested making an animated film with the dolls, and connected me with a student from a local college who helped me realize that dream. Here’s a link to the funky little movie. The whole project arose from fooling around.
How do you organize your time and space with so much going on? Tell us about your studio.
I work every day. I am not a procrastinator. If anything my flaws are the opposite of that. I dive into things headlong and wonder later why I didn’t slow down and do things more carefully. My studio is small and whenever I get deep into a project the room gets messy and crowded.
I would love to have LOTS more space, and I would probably fill it up. But I also appreciate that my studio is in my home so I can go to work any time.
How do you make the leap from an idea in your head to the art you produce? Can you visualize your finished product before you start it?
My creativity comes from my hands as much as from my head. If and when I visualize a finished product, the real thing seldom resembles my original idea. The hardest part of any work is starting something. Once I have begun then the art takes on a life of its own – creating it becomes more of a conversation.
What plays in the background while you work? Music, audiobooks, movies? What kind?
Just as I prefer art where you see the human hand, I prefer acoustic music, especially music in a minor key. I like folk music, country music, world music and chamber music. When I begin a project I need silence. When I am in the middle of something I like to listen to music and to audiobooks. They help me to loosen my mind and draw/create more freely.
You have found a number of ways to share your art with a varied audience – painting, writing, illustration, designing fabric, scarves, etc.. How did you make all that happen? Did you have a grand plan, or did the opportunities seek you out?
I did not and do not have a master plan. In general, my plan is to just say yes. I have thrown a lot of balls up in the air and some of them have landed. In other words, I have worked hard and actively pursued a lot of the things that I have done, and I have also been lucky. I’ve had a lot of success and a lot of failure! If you do the best work you can, nothing that you do is wasted even if the fruits of the labor aren’t immediately apparent.
Tell us about a challenging piece. What were the obstacles and how did you get past them?
I find that the challenges within any piece can be solved and are interesting to solve. The harder challenge for me sometimes is to get started. A chorus of negative voices lurks in the back of my head putting down any new ideas. I have to ignore it and just get started on anything – no matter how stupid or slight. Then I can improve it. Sometimes if I am down, or stumped, I will make something as a gift for someone that I love. That helps me to leapfrog over all the questions about why this piece of art should exist in the first place. When I am busy then I am overflowing with ideas. One idea leads to another.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
I had a teacher who said “Take other people’s vegetables, but make your own soup.”
What are you working on now?
Where can people see your work?
This summer I have a new book coming out about colors. It will be available at your local bookstore (I hope) or at Amazon.
What’s next for you?
Piano lessons. Swimming. Eating strawberries. And new creations I hope.
Browse through more inspiring interviews with makers and artists on Create Whimsy.