Julia Florence, Ceramic Artist.
Julia studied Illustration at Falmouth University in Cornwall and drawing at the Charles Cecil Studios in Florence, Italy. After graduating she took an evening pottery class, fell in love with working with clay and since then has been self taught. She currently makes her ceramic art from her studio where she’s surrounded by a community of other talented artists which she finds inspiring as a lot of her pieces are deeply connected to human interaction. She finds it rewarding and satisfying working with her hands with a material as sensual as clay.
In 1 sentence, what is the purpose of the work you do?
Self expression through art that connects others.
What book, film, YouTube video, radio program or podcast has most inspired you recently and how?
Recently I’ve been drawn to work made by strong female artists, I’ve been listening to a lot of Erykah Badu which has been inspiring me because I feel a sense of fierce independence when I hear her music.
When you feel a resistance to work or a bit down/tired, what helps you to renew your focus?
Knowing that I am committed to allowing my creative talents feed me spiritually and financially helps me to renew focus. I know that it is okay for me to want to earn enough money to feel secure and that I am working to do it through something I love is a good thing.
I find it really empowering when women especially voice their desires for success without feeling somehow undeserving and I would like to help spread that message. I also know that I am existing in the world with extreme privilege because of my white middle class background and I want to be grateful for that by experiencing the full potential of it. This includes my aspiration of finding a way to help others in the creative industry who are less privileged than me.
Who do you go to for advice or to help you talk over your business/creative plans and ideas?
I am lucky enough to be surrounded by other artists and creatives at the studios where I work, so there are always other people who understand my situation and can offer useful advice. It’s useful to have both artistic critics and business or financial advice under one roof from people who have first hand experience.
As a freelancer what do you struggle with the most and how do you manage that?
I struggle with the unreliable nature of my work, not having a salary, feeling like I am on an unknown path. Then I remind myself that the rewards for taking an unconventional route in life can be brilliant which motivates me to work harder. A lot of the people I surround myself with have chosen freelance careers too so every now and then we can all have a moan and get the negatives off our chests!
What is your greatest joy about the work you do?
I think the greatest joy comes from the gratitude I feel at being able to spend many of my days creating artwork and loving it.
If money were no obstacle and you could invest as much as you need into your business, what’s the biggest dream you have for your project?
That’s a very intense question and I love it, it’s so important to allow ourselves to dream. At this point in my career I am relying on myself to physically make all of my artwork, and I wouldn’t want that to change, but I would love to enjoy being able to hire exhibition spaces for myself and my artist mates to put on shows around the world.
I’ve always been really interested in art therapy and that is another area I would potentially like to pursue my career towards, with all this money I would aspire to take the artistic skills I already have and the motivation to share that with people who may not otherwise have the chance and look to create some type of program with other like minded people to give opportunities for artistic practice within underprivileged communities.
Can you tell us 3 main values that you live your life by and that inform how you work?
I think I would have to say openness, I find that being open to opportunities and people will always mean you allow people the chance to surprise you by being wonderful, even though it can make you feel vulnerable along the way. I try my best to also live my life with kindness, both to myself, others and the planet. Finally due to being a creative person I find I can get carried away easily on highs and lows and the word ‘grounding’ feels important to me. There are people in my life who anchor me to reality and to me that is as vital as allowing myself to dream, I need to come back down to Earth once in a while!
What kind of positive change are you aiming to make in the world through the work you do?
I would love to continue to make art that speaks to people in a thought provoking, positive way, and brings joy.
What does the word “creativity” mean to you?
I think it’s a beautiful part of life that we all have, a gift that gives meaning to days that may otherwise be forgotten, a spark that allows us to hope and dream. I don’t see creativity being solely the physical act of making things like artwork, more a mindset that allows you to experience the world with genuine appreciation.
Do you have any lessons to share that you’ve learnt about being a freelancer / creative / small business owner that might help someone thinking of pursuing their own project?
I think there are a lot of sources out there telling us that ‘if you want it badly enough you can achieve anything’ and to just ‘be positive’ and everything will fall into place. Sadly though this is definitely not always the case, you not only need determination, hard work and goals but also talent and passion, maybe even some good luck. So don’t let it get you down when there are really hard moments, because there will be. Chances are though, you’ve already worked in jobs you hated that weren’t right for you, so personally I try and use those experiences to fuel my aspirations to build a career that I can be proud of.
You can follow Julia on instagram @juliaflorenceartist and her website is here.