Artist Interview: Julia Rothman

AUG 30, 2014 updated Jun 3, 2021

We hope you’ve enjoyed this month’s Spoonchallenge! We’re thrilled that you joined us for our creative challenge! To round out the first Spoonchallenge, we’d like to introduce you to the lovely and talented
Brooklyn illustrator Julia Rothman who makes art for print and home decor. And in case you missed them, check out our interviews with other amazing artists from this month (Sam KaldaLeah GorenJude Landry1canoe2Sam LarsonLeah Duncan) that are sure to inspire you to keep up your creative habits long after the SpoonChallenge! 
Julia Rothman
What’s your day job? Do you create art or design full time?
JULIA: I’m a full-time illustrator. I make images for magazines and newspaper and patterns for stationery, wallpaper, bedding, fabric and dinnerware. I’ve also authored five books and counting, most recently a book about growing up in New York City called Hello NY. I am also part of a three person company called ALSO which makes design and web work for small clients.
Rothman helloNY

What’s your favorite medium for creating art?
I like to draw with Uniball pens then paint in gouache or color in Adobe Illustrator.
Describe your creative process. What’s a typical day like for you?
I wake up and make breakfast, usually oatmeal with fruit. I walk my dog. Then go to the back of my apartment where I have a room that I use as my studio. It’s full of books, and flat files filled with artwork. My desk is covered in notes and lists about projects I’m working on. I usually am working on about ten projects at a time but they all have different deadlines so I have to always decide what my priorities are each day. Some are long term, like books, others are quick turnarounds, like a spot for a newspaper. I work long hours, usually 7am to 7pm but I take a lot of snack breaks and at least one dog walk.
Workspace Rothman 2
Do you like to create repeating surface patterns? What’s the coolest thing you could imagine seeing covered in your artwork?
I love making patterns and get even more excited when they get applied to surfaces. I’ve had my patterns made into wallpaper with Hygge & West and that was pretty amazing. I love seeing images of it in people’s homes. I guess aside from that, I like seeing people wear my designs. I would really like to partner with a fashion designer on a collection one day.
Rothman leif-cup
Rothman paris_bedding
Rothman scarf
How many times do you revisit or edit artwork before releasing a final version?
A few times. It also depends on the deadline. If I have some time I will always return to it, changing the colors, fixing a small area. If I don’t have time, I suck it up and press send. Often I look back at something I made and have regrets about doing a better job. The mistakes stand out like they’ve been circled in red.
What does design mean to you?
I think design is about crafting something in the simplest, clearest functioning way while still making it aesthetically pleasing. Usually I just focus on making things look nice!
What song would best describe your creative process? 
Maybe Footloose…
What’s in your toolbox?
Uniball pens, gouache, paint brushes, brush pens, mechanical pencils, black iced tea, iPhone, scanner, Bristol paper, headphones…
Who influences your work? 
Jenny Volvovski and Matt Lamothe, my ALSO partners look at everything I make and offer critical feedback which is so, so helpful. They are able to see things from fresh eyes and another point of view. As for artists who inspire me… Keiko Minami, Vera Neumann, Gunta Stolzl, to name a few… and artist friends Leah Goren, Rachael Cole, Joana Avillez, Josh Cochran, Santtu Mustonen and so many others. There’s a big illustrator/artist community in Brooklyn and it feeds energy to want to create more stuff and experiment in new mediums.
If you were a protagonist in a novel, who would you be?
I don’t read enough for a good answer to that! Although when I was a kid I was pretty sure Ramona Quimby was written about me.
What is the one place in the world that you would like to visit?
I went to Uganda last winter and am going to Finland this summer. Next I would really like to go somewhere in South America, maybe Buenos Aires…
If you could only create art with one tool, what would it be?
A thin Japanese brush pen.  
What’s a favorite tip you’ve learned for either creating art or design, or staying motivated and inspired to create? 
I’m just always trying to have fun. I don’t want to get stuck doing things I hate so I just try and steer a project in a way that makes me enjoy working on it, even if takes a bit to convince a client. Or just finish it fast so I could work on my own self-driven projects!
See more of Julia’s work on her website

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