On The Table Read, “the best arts magazine in the UK“, visual artist Julie Connor talks about her career and the creative process behind her art.
Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed artist Julie Connor about her work as a visual artist, what inspires her, and the work that goes into running her business, Julie Connor Art.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
My name is Julie Connor and I’m a visual artist from Colchester in Essex. I live with my husband, dog and two cats and I have two children. I love being near to water and you can often find me walking the dog at the beach or looking for a nice river to sit beside.
What is the name of your business?
Julie Connor Art
How did you come up with that name?
Hmmm, it kinda speaks for itself 😉
What products do you sell?
I do acrylic canvas paintings in a few different styles and acrylic, pastel and pencil portraits of pets, people and wildlife. I also make wearable art jewellery from time to time.
When did you first start making your products?
It started like many artists I’m sure, as a hobby. I was always pretty good at art at school, I think I did my first portraits at around 16. But despite this, I pursued a different career path in nursing. It was some years later that I started drawing again and began taking commissions.
What inspired you to start making your products?
After having a part time side hustle for many years, there came a point where I decided to ‘live the dream’: give up nursing and become a full time artist. This point came when the pandemic started.
Up until the start of 2020 I’d been gradually making small steps to try and take this very big leap. I’d quit my contracted job as a nurse practitioner in an urgent treatment centre and was doing the same role but as a bank nurse, which gave me more flexibility to create my art. Then Covid came along and because of an auto immune illness I have, I was told by my GP that I shouldn’t work on the frontline and had to isolate.
This was a bit of a blow at first, because as a bank nurse I couldn’t be furloughed. So I decided to take the opportunity to push my art business and start earning more from that instead. And the rest as they say, is history!
What lessons have you taken to learn your craft or are you self-taught?
I’m essentially self taught. I’m not sure where it came from, but just one day I found out I could draw! Having an artist uncle probably helps, as does spending lots of time people watching. It’s how I learned to cut hair too! 😍
How has your work changed or developed since you started?
I started with portraiture, working mainly in pencil and occasionally oils. I then discovered my love of acrylic paint and its versatility and began painting in a variety of styles including fluid art, abstracts and florals. More recently I’ve been challenging myself with acrylic portraits.
Do you have a special workspace, or can you work anywhere?
I’m lucky enough to have two studios at home. One is a log cabin at the bottom of the garden and used for wet media as I am a very messy painter!
My other space is a room in the house affectionately known as the ‘drawing room’, which is where I do my dry media portraits (out of the way of paint splashes). I also use this space for packing and parceling up orders and any admin work.
Does music inspire or distract you?
100% inspire! I like to think of music as ‘emotions with sound’ which is then very much transposed into my art.
Is your business your full-time job or a side hustle?
Ah, see my answer for question 6!
Are your family and friends supportive of your creative work?
Absolutely. Most of my friends and family have my art on their walls and will sing my praises at every available opportunity! My husband is my biggest fan though, and my absolute rock. He’s been the one that has 100% believed in and supported me to pursue this dream, both emotionally and financially.
Do you sell online and/or in person?
Mainly online. I have a website store and I’m just embarking on an Etsy shop.
How do you promote your business and find new customers?
I use the powers of social media: Facebook and Instagram. I’m also slowly growing a mailing list who I call my VIPs. They’re the ones who are first to hear of my new collections and special offers and they receive a 10% discount on any artwork purchased.
Are you proud of your work and what you’ve achieved so far?
I am proud, yes. It’s a tough business to crack and it can be demoralising at times when there’s a dry spell. But with the support of my husband who picks me up and chivvies me along whenever I’m feeling like that, I keep going and people continue to love what I do!
Do you have any goals for the future you can share with us?
Nothing set in stone yet, but I’m hoping to have a stand at the International Horse Show at Excel in December. My biggest goal though is to secure a contract with an art publishing house. This is what I’m very much striving for at the moment.
Do you have any special career highlights you’d love to experience again?
Working on Holby City?? Nothing to do with art but it was an amazing experience!
Probably my biggest art experience to date is the recent installation I did for a hotel in Rhodes. I created 8 paintings and from those, had 30 Giclee prints made, which I took over and framed for the hotel to hang in each of the guest rooms and reception area.
Share all your work and social links so readers can find more:
Join my VIPs: https://mailchi.mp/49ad8f85313f/join-the-party
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