Julie Hansard: Hardworking Creative
I’ve followed Julie on Instagram for a while, and about a year ago she created a beautiful custom piece of art for me from one of my travel photos. She’s the sweetest person and I’m absolutely in love with the art she creates. Keep reading to learn more about how she uses social media to connect with other artists, how important feedback is to artists like Julie, and what a day in her life is like!
What does it mean to you to be a “hardworking creative?”
To me, hard work is everything. Practice and determination will eventually get you where you want to be, even if you’ve never picked up a brush before. I honestly don’t believe in “talent” for most people (there’s always a rare few). Think of the piano, for instance. No one can naturally sit down and know how to play. It takes time to work up to those difficult pieces. Art is the same way. Anyone can become an artist, hard work is key.
Tell us in one sentence what you do and why you do it.
I create art because it is a visual act of healing for both myself and others.
When, how, and why did you start painting and creating art?
Art has always been a part of my life. However, it was not always done visually. I began playing piano when I was five and joined a dance team at the end of elementary school and throughout middle school. For most of my childhood, I wanted to be an author. I wrote constantly, often trying to illustrate my characters and the places I imagined. I did not start painting until the end of sophomore year of high school. I bought a five-dollar watercolor palette from Hobby Lobby and decided to make some pieces to raise money for my mission trips to Guatemala. They weren’t very pretty and lacked technical skill, but I found a new solace in the act of painting. At this time in my life, anxiety had become more prominent and difficult to tackle, and my physical health was very low. I often had to stay home from school and lay in bed, so art gave me something comforting to focus on. The more I did it, the more I fell in love with it. My favorite part of creating art was surprising someone with a painting made specifically for them. I loved watching their face of surprise. People need to feel known, and art allowed me to connect in ways I had not before.
What was something that surprised you as you began painting more and selling your art—something you didn’t expect, whether good or bad?
I never expected to get so much feedback. Every time someone reaches out about a commission, it truly blows my mind and makes my heart leap that someone would want ME to create something for them. I never in a million years thought I’d have so many clients, and I am so incredibly thankful.
What advice do you have for young creatives who want to do something with their work but just can’t seem to get off the ground?
Don’t be afraid to reach out to other artists and follow people you don’t know on social platforms. I have built so many relationships with artists who live halfway around the world, just because I took the time to appreciate their work. Art unites and brings community. The more people you know and the more willing you are to encourage others and get out of your comfort zone, the larger your circles and reach will be.
What are your long-term and short-term goals with your work?
Short-term: Learn as much as I can and explore as much as possible. Long-term: Make a large enough collection to fill an entire gallery installation. I want to create a world where viewers can feel immersed in and be filled with wonder. I want my art to be an experience, using all the senses. Paint can do so much more than just be on a canvas. I want to use recycled materials, such as cardboard, cloth, and glass, to create something entirely new.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
I usually do the typical things – get ready for the day, make breakfast, etc. and check social media before class. If I have any commission inquiries I usually try to clear those up and if I have extra time I might sketch out a dog portrait or add a layer to a piece before it’s off to the studios. The rest of the day is usually spent going to class and doing homework. If I have any time at the end of the day (usually only 30 minutes to an hour), I work on more commissions. Not terribly exciting, but I look forward to and treasure the days where I truly have time to sit down and focus on the business aspects of my art.
What’s your number one secret to beating creative blocks?
Stepping away for a moment. Sometimes, a break is truly what you need. Often when I’m stuck on a piece, I know it’s time to leave it alone for a while. When I come back, I approach it with new eyes and notice things I did not see before. If you’re at a loss for what to create altogether, I would suggest doing something you really enjoy. Watch your favorite movie or read your favorite book from childhood. These things can spark imagination or remind you why you do what you do.
What’s a question that you always wish someone would ask you about your work, but that no one ever does? Answer it for us.
“What do you want to paint?” Because I post my art on social media, I think people assume that the work I post is the work I truly want to be doing and am proud of. Most of the time, though, it’s just commissions and projects for school. I would love to get back to my childhood fascinations: fantasy worlds and lots and lots of animals. I want to create art that is both beautiful and reminds viewers of the dangers many of the earth’s species are in.
What gets the creative process kick-started for you?
Spending time with other creatives and being out in nature.
Do you currently have a job outside of selling your art? If so, does it help or hurt your creative career—and how?
I work at a bakery in downtown Columbia, SC called Blue Flour. It hurts and helps for the same reason: getting me out of the studio. As mentioned previously, I think it’s important to step away and take a break. At the same time, I’m missing LOADS of studio time and am usually pretty tired when I get back. But, it does get me the funds to be able to buy more paint and materials. I also consider school to be a “job.” I’m learning a lot about how to improve my art, but gosh it can be so exhausting.
Hey fellow hardworking creatives, does anyone else paint? What one thing from Julie’s advice can you take away to help you in your creative career?