Julia Kaiser, designer and visual artist

Julia Kaiser has a background in graphic design. A couple of years ago she began her journey towards abstract art where she combines collage, painting and drawing. Julia shares a very light and airy studio in a former primary school in Amsterdam West.
Julia Kaiser, designer and visual artist
Do you call yourself an artist?
I am still in the process of calling myself an artist. For now I chose "designer and visual artist". Combining the two gives me more confidence. I am a designer, that’s something I can be certain of. And I aim to be an artist. But the longer I think about it the more I come to the conclusion that it doesn't matter. As long as you do stuff. 

So you haven't always been an artist?
I studied graphic design in Germany and then design and new media at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam. I have worked over 15 years as a designer and art-director in the branding and fashion industry. A couple of years ago I felt I had to take a break from my endless days behind the computer screen. I went back to drawing, abstract calligraphy and eventually painting. 

Describe your work
My work is fast and slow. Spontaneity versus control. My starting point are big gestural strokes. Impulsive and fast. They can resemble letters or words, or are pure movements. In a second step I combine them with geometrical or linear shapes and patterns.

Describe your workspace. How did you find it?
My studio is located in a former primary school in Amsterdam West. I share one classroom on the first floor with another creative, Fleur. When I needed to find myself a new space I placed an ad on kunstinzicht.nl. Fleur got in touch. We clicked immediately.

What do you like about this space?
We have plenty of light here: one wall has huge windows. The room is very high. We have a mezzanine where we can store stuff but also sit and work or relax. It's very light and airy. Our plants love it here, too.
Julia Kaiser, designer and visual artist
Julia Kaiser, designer and visual artist
Julia Kaiser, designer and visual artist
Julia Kaiser, designer and visual artist
When do you make your best work?
At night. During the day I always have the feeling I need to meet some kind of deadline or deliver something. It stresses me that there are no real guidelines in my daily routine as an artist. During the night I don’t have that feeling. Working during the night feels like some kind of voluntary over-hours you don't have to justify.

Is art making therapeutic for you?
I'd rather say: I might need therapy because I am making art. After 15 years of design work this is extremely unknown ground for me. I feel vulnerable and insecure. I doubt it will have anything like a healing effect on me. But it also makes me extremely happy from time to time. 

What influences you?
Paintings. Modern, big paintings.

What motivates you?
To finally do what I’ve always dreamt of doing: going to my studio and just paint.

What’s your studio philosophy?
Don’t try to make art. Show up at the studio and do stuff. Things will come, just be present and play.

Would you describe your work as female - why?
I think you can tell that my work is made by a woman. Of course, that's natural! It's not a conscious decision but I can only paint the way I paint. And I am a woman. 

Do men make different art?
I think men often tend to be bolder, seeming to the outside more fearless, also in their art. But I suspect that they also suffer more as artists.

Do you think that you get the same chances on the art market as your male colleagues?
I think the art market is difficult for anyone. But I recognised that there is a focus on women artists going on for a while now. Hopefully it will last and bring the chances that a lot of women artists have been waiting for way too long.

Which (female) artist do you admire, do you have a favourite piece of art?
I've always admired Niki de Saint Phalle. When I was a young girl we used to have this huge fluo Nana poster in the house. She was the first artist I fell in love with.

Favourite city / best museum?
Paris. It's such a cliché, I know. I love the atelier Brancusi next to Centre Pompidou. The fact that you can just go there - it's for free!
Julia Kaiser, designer and visual artist
Julia Kaiser, designer and visual artist
Julia Kaiser, designer and visual artist
Favourite art-making tools?
Huge brushes and chinese ink.

Tools or mediums you would like to experiment with?
I bought oil paint but don’t dare to touch it yet. Big canvases are a huge challenge for me, too.

How many hours do you work in the studio per week?
Mostly I am at the studio 4 days a week. I work maybe 3-4 hours in a row and spend another 2 hours or so writing or editing photos etc. Then in the evening, after dinner when my daughter is in bed, I work for another 3-4 hours.

Silence or sound while creating? 
Silence while painting. Taking a break and playing guitar.

How do you combine kid(s) and work?
After bringing my daughter to school I go to the studio. I pick her up in the afternoon. Or my husband does. That gives me enough time for my work. I don't necessarily separate work and family, sometimes my daughter paints with me in the studio. She is a huge source of inspiration for me. 

Does your partner support you, and how?

I am very lucky I have to say: My husband is a huge support. He completely understands what I am doing and why. And he loves to see me growing. He is supporting me on the practical side, like framing my pictures, transportation, building stuff. He is also taking care of the groceries and cooking most of the time.

How do you market your art?
I have a website and I am pretty active on Instagram and Facebook. I am not ready yet for other ways like approaching galleries and such. But I should definitely get myself more out in the open and talk to people...

What’s next?
Investigating that big oil painting on canvas.
Julia Kaiser, designer and visual artist
Julia Kaiser, designer and visual artist
You can find Julia's work here.
Follow her process on Instagram
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