Juuri aka Julie Robertson is a Japanese-American artist. Her very colorful work owes to her longing to get back to her roots and it now has a unique fusion of Japanese and American spirits. It portrays delicate Japanese beauties and warriors in an intricate cultural background. Juuri is very close and attached to both streams and cultures and it is evident in her art. Using a variety of media, she composes her alluring figures with beautiful props and decoration. Her artworks have an old-world charm as well as modern sensibilities. Juuri is telling us about herself and her art in brief interview below:
Hello Juuri. Please tell us about yourself:
I was born in Tokyo, Japan and moved to the US with my family when I was six. My father was in the Army so we moved around a bit. Right now, I live in a city called Norman just south of Oklahoma City, the state capital. It’s very hot during the summer but the people are friendly. However, now I think it’s time for a new adventure. I’d love to live someplace different every 5 years. I have such a hopeless case of wanderlust!
What are the milestones of your journey into art?
I have been drawing since I was about two or three, and simply never stopped. I guess a major milestone would be in August 2010, when I decided to officially pursue fine art instead of graphic design. During my journey I’ve had to teach myself about marketing, brand identity (I do all my own graphic design and website work) and the “business” side of things, but I’ve enjoyed it all.
My Japanese heritage” and “color & line” are the two primary themes of my work. The first theme manifests itself in flora-wrapped watercolor faces surrounded by cultural elements and deep symbolism. The second theme comes alive in non-representational acrylic paintings on canvas, and contour line drawings on paper. At times I bring these styles together, and let the storm of color and line envelope the delicate faces.
The theme I choose to convey depends on my mood and inner struggles at the time of painting. I tend to express fleeting emotions via my non-representational work, and explore longstanding questions with the Japanese pieces. I hope viewers are both mesmerized by my luscious images and left with many questions to ponder themselves through the symbolism and color in the paintings.
I have quite a few outlets for my creativity, and I enjoy them all equally. They are like ingredients to a great recipe… you can’t leave any of them out or the result will be less delicious! I love painting realistic faces of Japanese girls, doing wild abstract work, fashion blogging, video editing, graphic design, interior design… the list gets longer all the time.
Most pieces take about two weeks to complete. You can see a step-by-step process album here.
You’ve been painting for over a decade. Do you notice some changes in your art and perception of the medium?
I am more aware of what subject matter truly interests me. But even after so many years, I can never tire of the unpredictable nature of watercolor or the feeling of quietly sketching in details with the colored pencil.
I would like to delve deeper into questions I have in my mind. Some of the themes may be a bit darker, but I think it’ll be freeing for me to address those issues. I would like to put more of a story into my art, even more than what is already there. And, I want to be disciplined enough to include more than one girl per painting!
Is there something that challenges you as an artist?
Yes, every day I want to make each artwork better than the one before. I want to look at each piece and know “There’s nothing I could possibly do to make it better.”
I use more than one medium simply because I find what works best and is easiest to use for me. I focus on what I love to draw… faces and brilliant colors. I guess I’m a bit selfish in that all I do is paint what I want!
What equipment and material do you mostly use?
My favorite supplies are watercolors, Arches paper, acrylic paint, colored pencils, and gold leaf. Surprisingly, my favorite brand of watercolor is Crayola’s educational line! The colors are vivid and flow well. For pencils, I’ve loved Faber-Castell since my dad brought them to me as a gift from Germany when I was a small girl.
My best achievement is the fact that art is now my official profession, after years of working at it on the side and having a full-time job. I’m also happy that I’ve gotten to participate in shows in California and sell my art to collectors around the world as far away as Australia! It’s a fantastic life.
What are your views on contemporary art?
I love contemporary art, the type you see in magazines in Juxtapoz or Hi-Fructose. I like seeing artists with intense passion and talent, creating things out of whatever materials they can find. It’s a bit different than the traditional “fancy gallery” type art in which everyone has to paint certain things and attend certain schools and use the same types of expensive materials. That art world really intimidates me, and I don’t think I’d be very successful in it because I have a tendency to rebel against majority thought. The important thing is to create from your heart with no restrictions about what should or shouldn’t be done. Of all professions, artists should be the most free and I think contemporary art is the avenue for that to take place.
I’m not seeking out new shows to book but instead will wait for opportunities to come to me. For now, I want to perfect my drawing skills and bodies of work and color schemes. I’d like to travel more for inspiration, and simplify my life so that all my attention and focus can be on art without having to spend lots of money and time on insignificant issues such as “how much money should I spend landscaping the back yard?” The simple answer is: don’t have a back yard and that problem is gone! More money for art! (And you can play in the perfectly landscaped park.)
What are your sources of inspiration and favorite stuff?
I always like to watch foreign, especially Japanese films. They have a beauty that seep into your soul. I also like to travel and keep up with my favorite artists by reading magazines in the bookstore with a hot cup of coffee close by. It’s more special to me than looking at blogs… to feel the magazine paper in your hands.