Today we’d like to introduce you to Julie Ahmad.
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
From a very young age, my favorite form of self-expression came through clothing and fashion. I loved to dress up. As you can see in the photograph below that was me at two years old pointing out my “designer jeans,” (the embroidery on the back pocket) to my mother and making sure she got a good shot of it. Aside from the fashionista in me, I was Mommy’s little artist. I spent hours drawing, painting, and creating handmade gifts for my friends, teachers, and family. My mom was very encouraging of my art, but I learned to view it as solely a hobby and never to consider it as a viable career choice. Still, I took every art elective offered and enjoyed the praise and recognition that went along with it.
Coming from a working-class immigrant family, financial security, and a strong work ethic were more important than passion. I went to college and got a degree in Business specializing in the Fashion Industry, and later obtained a second degree in Fashion Design at FIT in NYC. Although I loved studying the subject matter, it was never the right fit for me as a career choice on either side. The business side was full of spreadsheets and analytics, which I found to be mundane and uninspiring. While the design end, although more fulfilling, happened at such a fast pace that I never felt like I could catch my breath and enjoy it. There was so much demand and pressure for “what’s next” I couldn’t keep up and was never able to give it the level of detail and care that would have felt gratifying.
It was motherhood and, in particular, when I was pregnant that my body reminded me what my true calling was in this world. I felt this strong, burning desire to be creative and work with my hands. At times, I’m sure I must have looked like a mad hormonal pregnant woman rummaging through cabinets grabbing anything I could get my hands on to make marks on a canvas. There was some kind of organic correlation between my body being in the state of creation, and my heart urging my hands to do the same. That was a little over six years ago, and I haven’t put the brush down since.
Please tell us about your art.
I’m most drawn to the forgiving qualities of acrylic paint and the loose nature of abstract art. Most of my work is an exploration of intuitive painting — not having the final outcome in mind from the start. However, I also dabble in other styles of art when the fire is stoked. Currently, I am creating a series of mixed media portraits that is a sister set to my latest “Black & Blue” series.
Lately, I’ve been intrigued by facial expression and their ability to emote endless emotions. I want to capture it on the canvas and gain a professional level of mastery in this genre. This direction is new for me. I only briefly touched upon portrait painting in high school. Now I’m working to remind myself to be patient and give myself room to make mistakes and “not-be-good.”
A task that is easier said than done. However, my drive for mastery and impatience can evoke strong focus and provide great results. I plan to document the process as much as possible on Instagram. Follow along to see the process unfold @julieahmad_art
In my “Black & Blue” series, I restricted my palette to shades of blue, black, and white to witness what will manifest when stepping away from color. I also delved into the darker parts of myself that I don’t often reveal to others or allow myself to feel. Moving into mixed media portraits with this restricted palette, I want my art to inspire others to be vulnerable and comfortable with their not-so-pretty parts. The more we can accept our personal flaws, the more we can accept others.
Choosing a creative or artistic path comes with many financial challenges. Any advice for those struggling to focus on their artwork due to financial concerns?
Collaborate like hell! We are stronger together, and it’s so much more fun! I think for far too long artists have been closed off and mistrusting of each other. There has been a false sense of scarcity and an over-inflated sense of greatness in suffering, hence the “starving artist.” This is a myth that needs to be replaced with community, generosity, and abundance. There has never been a better time to be an artist, with the ability to publish work and find a following through technology and social platforms.
How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
I recently acquired a new 1250 sq.ft. Art studio/gallery space in South Austin at Thornton Road Studios where I will be teaching workshops, hosting artists from out of town, and putting on collaborative art events and shows — 2311 Thornton Road Unit K. You can also find five of my large abstract pieces at NEST Modern and the rest of my work online. Every year, I take part in East Austin Studio Tour and put on Women of West with the West Austin Studio Tour.
- Address: Julie Ahmad Art Studio — 2311 Thornton Road Unit K, Austin, TX 78704
- Website: http://www.julieahmad.com
- Phone: 702-468-4280
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/julieahmad_art/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/julieahmadart/
Chelsea Pribble, Cori Baker