*Our goal for this series is to shed light on the many different ways local women are working behind-the-scenes to advance the arts every day - no matter what other roles they may also be juggling.
Julianne David is a painter whose journey first began in fashion design and photography. Originally from Mobile, Ala. David now proudly calls Columbus, Ga. home for both her family and her business. Read on to discover the multi-faceted woman who's created a brand that spans abstracts, watercolors, figures, and more.
Q: How did you find your way to painting?
A: Well, first of all, I'm a twin. It's one of those things that is so cool, but you can't describe it unless you are one. My sister has always been the one that's leader and I have always been the follower.
Our parents told us, even when we were little, that we couldn't be in the same class. We had to be separated because my sister would say, "She's here. I've got her..." and I was always completely fine with that. She's always had everything completely under control and I have always loved that about her and been content to go along with the plan.
Years later when it was time to pick a college, my sister wanted to go to Auburn. So we went. (Laughing) It was a great experience, but in my junior year I called my mom and said, "I really want to do something else. I want to transfer schools and focus more on photography." My mom said something like "Oh, good." Then apparently she hung up the phone and said something like, "That's never gonna happen." I think my parents were shocked.
Then, a few weeks later, I called her and said, "Hey, I got my SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) information in the mail and I'm transferring." Again, they couldn't believe I was making this change and moving out on my own, but they were so supportive.
So here I am, a girl from Mobile, more than half way through a degree at Auburn, and I just up and transfer to SCAD in the middle of my junior year.
Q: Bold choice. How did it go?
A: It was crazy but the most wonderful decision. I went into a potluck for roommate selection, and she didn't speak any English. When I went to sleep, she would wake up. It was crazy! But the whole time I was like, "I got this, I can do it." I was passionate about being there.
Q: What did you major in at SCAD?
A: I ended up majoring in fashion design and minoring in photography.
Q: Really? That's so cool.
A: I did. It was just the coolest experience. I mean, it was amazing. I went into fashion and really learned how to draw. I had to learn how to draw designs on the human figure.
Q: Had you painted it all before then? A: Not really. Not seriously. I mean, I had taken some art classes growing up. For me, the love for art started when I was tiny, tiny. But like really honing in on it? I was a junior in college really when I started getting serious about it.
Q: That's amazing. So how did your time in Savannah shape your work? Because that is such a beautiful, very interesting place.
A: It really is. I loved it so much. It was really hard to leave that place. There is just so much history, architecture, such beauty everywhere. I guess the way that it shaped me was just being around so many different creative people all of the time. People were all coming to SCAD from all over the place, and I was just, you know, a person from Mobile, Alabama!
So, you know, moving to Savannah changed the whole path of my life. When I graduated, I went to New York and worked for awhile and that's where I met husband Kendrick.
Q: Wow. What took you to New York? A job or an internship?
A: Well, I graduated from SCAD and one of my really good friends, who was Berkeley Yance at the time, had just graduated from Alabama and moved to New York. I thought that sounded amazing.
Q: So you wanted to live in New York, and you just did it?
A: (laughing) Yeah, kind of?! My cousin called me, about two months after graduation. And I mean, this was literally such a God thing. She called me and she was like, "My company's moving me to New York. They're paying for my rent, come with me."
Q: Are you serious? That's insane!
A: I know! And I mean, honestly we lived in a one room apartment that probably should have been a closet. But we didn't care. It was free rent in New York City!
So, I interned wherever I could find. Anywhere. Then, eventually I lied to get into a job interview. Because I was like, I've got to get a job. And I finally got this paid internship with Ginny Hilfiger. It was $7 an hour.
Q: Um. Hilfiger as in Hilfiger? Amazing.
A: Yes. I found a job fair and ended up working for Tommy Hilfiger.
Q: Stop it. So how long were you with that company?
A: I was there for almost a year while I was dating Kendrick. Then we got engaged and moved back to Columbus where he's from.
Q: You moved from New York City to Columbus? What was that like?
A: Interesting. I was like "Okay, I majored in fashion. What am I going to do here?" But I started drawing little watercolors that I would put on stationery. And then that progressed to me starting to paint again. I started doing figures, mostly, and watercolors.
Q: What year was this?
A: This would have been in 2010. Q: Okay, cool. So you started here with stationery and your business kind of evolved from that? You just built it.
A: Basically, yeah. It's crazy to think how it all happened. I mean at anytime I hear someone ask me how God has showed up in my life? I'm like, "Oh..." and I tell them this story. It's crazy! I couldn't have planned any of it.
Q: Yes! So, you're also a mom if I'm not mistaken?
A: Yes, we have three boys. I have a 10 year old, an eight year old, and a four year old.
Q: Okay, natural next question. You run an art business, you're a painter, and you have three boys? I'll just let you take that where you will.
A: (Laughing) I mean, I was thinking about that question this morning. It's not even, like you can say, "This is how you do it." There's no way to boil it down into anything other than, I try.
Some days I'm like killing it in studio and like painting away and "I''ve got this, I've got a babysitter, I've got a new series going and I'm feeling good." But then we get home and I'm like, "Okay, well the laundry was neglected, the dishes are stacking up, and the whole house is a mess. It's 5:30 and I've got nothing for dinner." You know?
A: But then again, on another week if the house is clean and laundry and dinners done? Then my art has gotten neglected. You know what I mean?
Q: 100%. This is why I wanted to do this series because it's very easy for people to see a pretty painting or a finished project, a book, or a sculpture and think, "Oh that's lovely..." but very are observers of creative professionals' work actually aware of what all goes into that lifestyle and work behind-the-scenes on a daily basis. It's so much more than the finished product.
A: Yes! And I mean, it's so funny how elusive this work/life balance is. It really doesn't exist. People think it does, but again, I just try.
The other day I was so excited before school started back, because I had a friend who works at the boys' school offer to bring my kids home after school every day. I was like, "Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!" But like last month my kids were like, "We kind of miss you picking us up." And I missed it, too. So I'm back to carpool every day.
So, I mean, people say "for life/work balance, I do this, and I do this, and sometimes I do this." But for me, it's just that sometimes something is neglected, and every time we just try to keep things moving forward. We just try. And you know what? That's just how life is going to happen right now, and I've learned that it's going to be okay. Even though it's so annoying that the dishes, and the house and the laundry are never finished. It's going to be okay.
Q: Absolutely. So what does being a woman in the arts mean to you then? A: Well, a lot of well-meaning people ask me, "Oh my God, is your art just such a good outlet for do?" And I'm always a bit taken back by that question. I mean, the answer is obviously yes. It is. But more importantly, it's something that I love and that I'm passionate about that I've made my career. You know?
Yes, I love my family and I'm passionate about them and I love all of the things that come with being a wife and mother.
But I think it's important to do what you want. To give 100% to your career, or you know, whatever that thing may be in your life.
Because especially as a woman in the arts, I mean, a lot of people are like, "OH, she paints." And I do. And I love it. I love it. But it's also a career by choice. I think it's good to show my children that I'm really, really passionate. So that whatever they're passionate about, they know they can do it. And, that you can do it. You can find a balance, you know? You can do it.
Q: Yes. That's a great, great answer. Beautiful. All right, what kind of upcoming shows do you have?
A: I am working on a show that will hopefully be held at Highland Galerie this summer. DeeDee (Tebeau) has been amazing and just so kind to allow me to show my work in her space. I had a show there last summer and it went really well, so we're going to do it again. So definitely stay tuned for that!
Q: What else are you working on?
A: Well, I'm actually signed up for this workshop that I found on Instagram. It's been really really great. I felt like I needed some professional development and so I found a class. That was one of the things that this year I decided I was going to do. It's important for artists to keep learning. So I committed this year to take more workshops and stuff like that to kind of further myself. It's a great way to kind of get you out of your comfort zone and it has helped so much.
Another thing is that I've been pushing myself to work on some new concepts. Something that I struggle with, and I also love about myself, is just the jumping around to different projects or different medias and different ideas. It's led me to some really, really cool, great things. Whenever I think about something, I get really excited about it. I'm like, "I'll do it. I'm going to do it and I'll do it." I just get so excited about new things.
I just recently posted some of these panels than I did.
Q: I saw them. They're beautiful.
A: Oh thank you! I pushed myself on those. I kept thinking "This is so crazy! This is not anything that I've ever done before." But I have to struggle with that idea because it's unhealthy. No artist has to stay in a box or commit to one thing all of the time. So I'm not! I'm committed to pushing myself to learn and try new things. Always.◾️
Julianne's Local Favorites:
Small Business: Harvest Coffee
"I love just going down to Bank's Food Hall. We grab a snack and then bring a soccer ball or a football and just play at Woodruff Park until it's time to go."
Place to take a Walk: Standing Boy Trails
Piece of Art to Visit in Town: May Flower by Susan Geissler
Favorite Columbus Hidden Treasure: the Historic District