Life & Style

Pen Artist and The Roost Scholarship recipient

Photos by Myf Garven

Twelve months on from being chosen as the recipient of The Roost Scholarship, it's fair to say that Julia Jay has spent her time wisely. The incredibly talented pen artist has honed her artistic skills developing a unique style that can be best described as intricately beautiful. 

Keen to hear about Julia's artistic journey and how she has developed as an artist we caught up with Julia at The Roost.

Thanks for taking the time to chat to us Julia, you're coming to the end of your Scholarship at The Roost, how have you enjoyed the last twelve months working from here?

I’ve really loved it, it’s been so nice to come into a little community, and everyone has been so lovely. It will be twelve months in January and I feel like I have been way more productive than if I had worked from home. I still work at home occasionally, in my bedroom, but it’s tricky, as I do different projects I have to clear my desk so I have admin time, and painting time so the Roost has provided me with that space that I've needed.

Has art become your full time job or do you have another job elsewhere?

This is my sole job, which is weird, I always thought perhaps when I am 50 and had a family and a house and heaps of savings, then I’ll do art. Up until then I thought it would be just a hobby or for fun and now I am doing it full time.

Where does your main form of income come from?

I would say markets but at the moment workshops are starting to take up more of my time, I am trying to make the business transition from doing markets every weekend to workshops, running workshops during the week and setting up online drawing courses.

I am doing about two markets a week at the moment, sometimes three. At the start of the year I went a bit nuts with markets going to Sydney a lot, as I thought that was where the money was. I was also going up to Queensland, but that wasn’t smart money wise, so my focus is now more on staying local to Newcastle, Maitland and Central Coast.

Next year I would like to be running workshops every weekend and through the week, doing six week courses and setting up an online drawing course.

Where do you do your workshops from?

Here from the Roost, so being set up here in this space for this year has been super good for that, everyone that comes along to the workshops comment on how funky the space is. I just love the windows and all the natural light.

Can you describe your art

I describe myself as a free hand pen artist that specialises in really intricate black and white art, it’s very magical, I believe the world is magic so I like to draw a lot of fairies and creatures. Growing up I used to love books by Enid Blyton and Graeme Base, trying to find things inside things which keep you looking.

I was going through my book shelf recently and realised this is where my main inspiration has come from, that’s how I draw, I love pictures inside pictures.

Did you start drawing from a young age?

I’ve always been drawing, but it was in Year 10 that I discovered pen art and I became obsessed. I did art topics at school and for my HSC I chose to do pen work and studied bees and that was my body of work. Art was the only subject that I got a band 6 in and I was also invited into Art Express, which is where a select few High School students have their work go on a gallery tour. My art went to Sydney Olympic Park and Maitland Gallery which was super exciting, Maitland Gallery is one of my favourites.

Have you done any formal training

I did go to uni following school but that wasn't related to art. I studied environmental science and teaching, which I loved, but I realised that I wouldn't be teaching what I want to be teaching, which is what’s really cool about the pen workshops, I can now bring the two together.

It’s been a lot of practice and trial and error, I feel like the last year has been a lot of intensive training and persistence with things when I find something I like. 

How do you get into a creative frame of mind?

I need a really clean space to start with, that allows me to channel in the energy needed to create the piece. I remember when I was doing my HSC and I got stuck, my mum said you just need to start, start with a little circle and you’ll be fine. That’s always stayed with me.

The scholarship ends in December, do you have any plans following that?

I feel like everything changes, but my current plan is to stay with the Roost at the start of the year and maybe move mid year, I don’t want to force things, if the universe aligns everything maybe Melbourne and then I am thinking about studying art therapy because I feel that there is more that I want to offer in my workshop, that will be a nice layer to add to it. I’d also like to run creative retreats with other creatives so as to be able to offer a set of skills. I have lots of plans which is really exciting.