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Craft With Conscience: Julie Marriott

Craft With Conscience

'Craft With Conscience' began in early 2016 as a weekly Instagram series dedicated to sharing the work of other creatives and as a platform to openly discuss certain aspects of ethical art-making and consuming in the age of the internet and social media.  

This series arose out of my own frustrations related to seeing my work constantly copied stitch-for-stitch, sold without permission, and credited to other people.  Rather than wallowing in unproductive negative emotions, I wanted to find a way to bring this common issue to light in a positive way.  My solution was to share the work of artists, crafters, designers, and makers who I greatly admire for their originality and dedication. Initially, I shared work similar in materials or subject matter to my own, having heard the argument, "There are only so many ways to stitch plants, I'm not copying you..." one too many times.  The truth is, no matter what the medium or subject, every artist from hobby crafter to professional painter has their own perspective and voice. It takes effort to develop one's visual vocabulary and it can be disheartening when your's is taken and misused by other individuals and sometimes larger companies.

All that being said, now is an incredible time for working artists because of the vast resources of the internet including sources of inspiration, the ability to reach a large and global audience, and as a community building tool. As you may know, I love sharing my work on Instagram and following other makers. It's a wonderful way to connect with other artists, be inspired, and feel supported, but we all need to be aware of how we use these resources and what effect it may have on others.

Since the start of 2016, 'Craft With Conscience' has grown and evolved just like any other creative pursuit and has recently expanded to include short interviews with featured artists. I've asked participating artists a series of questions about their studio process, sources of inspiration, and how image-sharing sites like Instagram and Pinterest influence and affect them. I hope you read on to see what they have to say!

Craft With Conscience: Julie Marriott

Sarah Benning

Julie Marriott // Painter and Pattern designer // San Diego California


Julie is a painter and pattern designer living in San Diego, California. Her work focuses on bold floral arrangements full of color and expressive brush strokes. She shares her passion for art through acrylic workshops, and through creating paintings and patterns that bring joyful color into your home.

Check out more of her amazing work on instagram, facebook, or her website.

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1. I began my #CraftWithConscience series as a way to simultaneously promote the work of other makers and to discuss the complicated issues surrounding creative inspiration and developing ones’ own visual vocabulary. The internet is an ever growing fixture in many artist’s lives and businesses, could you talk about the role the internet plays in your artistic and professional life?

Basically, the internet is the reason my business exists! My first introduction to the world of creative entrepreneurship came from reading blog articles and listening to podcasts. As I’ve learned and grown, the internet has stayed central to everything I do, from selling on my website shop, to marketing my art and workshops through social media, to sharing about my studio projects through my email newsletter. So much of what I’ve accomplished this far with my business is thanks to the power the internet gives me to connect with other creatives and art-lovers.

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2. Where do you find inspiration for your work? In what ways has the internet and/or social media impacted your design process?

Most of my inspiration comes from the online world (thank you, Pinterest and Google!), simply because the information is there at my fingertips exactly when I need it. I think of my paintings as big collages because I use a lot of different images to inform various parts of each piece. I’ll often use photos of interior decor as a jumping-off point for my color palette. Because I paint flowers so often, I’ll reference a bunch of bouquet or flower images based on the variety I need at the moment. My goal when using references is to filter them through my own painting style and interpret them in an expressive, more abstracted way.

3. Sites like Pinterest and Instagram are popular places for artists’ to share their own work. They also act as public visual archives, often leading to creative work by others that walks the line between ‘inspiration’ and ‘infringement.’ What are your strategies to move beyond making work that’s derivative of other artists? How have you, as an artist, found your creative voice?

I want to start by saying that I don’t think it’s wrong for us to be influenced by our artist heroes. Closely following the work of artists I love has played a huge role in giving me the inspiration and confidence to build my own creative business. That being said, as I’ve grown as an artist, I’ve had to discover how to be inspired by someone else’s work, then move on to create my own, instead of getting stuck feeling like that artist’s style is “the” way to create.

I’d like to share two pieces of advice I gathered from my journey toward developing aunique voice in my work:

1. Set boundaries for your art I know that setting boundaries sounds counter-intuitive to creativity, but narrowing the options of what to paint and how to paint it for a specific period of time has really worked for me. For example, try setting a goal to create a series of 5 or more pieces of a specific subject, in a specific way. I did this once where I painted a series of very flat, pattern-inspired floral wreaths where I didn’t blend any colors together on the canvas.

These self-imposed rules cut down on overwhelm and gave me the freedom to play and explore within those boundaries. Even though I didn’t continue painting in that exact style after the series, I learned things I liked and didn’t like about that painting process that informed my future work.

2. Collect a “visual vocabulary”

Look at the work of your favorite artists and ask yourself, “What is it that really, truly resonates with me about their work?” Slow down and get super specific. It could be how they pair warm and cool colors together, their style of mark-making, how their work evokes a strong emotion, etc. Don’t be afraid to cross into other creative disciplines when you’re collecting these details. Make a list of the elements that really move you on a gut level, then think about how you could incorporate a few of those ideas into your own work. Making a study of the specific elements that speak to you visually will help you get to the core of what you love.

For me, I found that I was consistently drawn to work that had a mix of complex neutrals and bold, clear colors, to florals that were abstracted and influenced by pattern, and to painting styles that showed the hand of the artist through imperfect mark-making and thick strokes. I began to experiment with these different elements in my own work, and have slowly developed to where I am today!

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4. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists or creative business people?

Remember that finding your creative voice is an ongoing process, not a destination. You never really “arrive” at the final style you’ll use for the rest of your life. Your work will always have room to grow as you learn, experiment and follow what you love to create.

Also, be as consistent as possible about creating and sharing your work. It takes time for potential clients to develop a relationship with you and your brand, so just think about nurturing and giving a little more of yourself and your work to that relationship each time you share.

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5. Do you have any favorite blogs, artists, or Instagram accounts that you’d like to share?

I love the work of my friend, abstract painter Mya Bessette. Her nature-inspired paintings strike a beautiful balance between colorful movement and calm. You can find her on Instagram @myabessetteart.

The pattern designs of Audrey Smit of This Little Street always give me the hugest smile! They’re just so bright, cheerful and charming. She’s on Instagram @thislittlestreet

The Creative Pep Talk Podcast  has been a huge inspiration to me on my art journey. Andy is a fun and quirky illustrator, and he offers lots of practical food-for-thought about honing your craft as an artist.

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Studio photos by Katherine Beth Photography (www.katherinebethphotography.com) and swimsuit photo courtesy of Body Zone Swim (www.bodyzoneswim.com)