"You're pretty much all whimsical," Ian (9) says to his mom, Julene, when she's asked to describe her work in a few words. Her brightly colored paintings line the mantle in her studio and it's clear to see that Ian is correct. A circus themed mixed-media creation is one of Julene's favorites. She uses vintage ephemera collected from thrift shops and books from the recycling center as a background for a lot of her work, taking nostalgic pieces and reviving them in collages. This particular piece of work uses maps and pages from an old accounting ledger.
With roots in Troy, ID, Julene thinks the Palouse is a great place to run her business. "There is great energy here and it's a really supportive place for artists." Julene has been in the design field for over 20 years. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at University of Idaho with a dream to work for Hallmark. She began her design and advertising career in Colorado where she created ads, billboards and book covers. And when she eventually made her way back to the Palouse in 1998, she began working with local clients who she still designs for today. Locally she works with the Palouse Choral Society and the Hemingway Review, among others and lends her talents to teaching classes at Rendezvous for Kids, the Troy Public Library and Moscow Day school for kids and adults, alike.
When it comes to her process for creating, Julene is dedicated to sketching (almost) every morning. It's during this time that she can create characters, flesh out ideas and clear her head. She said she sometimes has a plan for what she's going to create, but other times lets the colors and vintage paper items lead the way. Julene says that she's inspired by "the things that make you happy as a kid" and that her son, Ian is the biggest inspiration.
She's been making greeting cards since 1993 with materials like ribbons, paint, paper and metal and translated that into bigger paintings and drawings. She now has a representative who takes her cards across the globe, which has given her access to sell in places like Nieman Marcus and Harrod's department store in London. Her brightly colored designs have remained true to her heart over the years she has most recently been picked up commercially by Pier One, Home Goods and World Market and will hopefully have items available for purchase this holiday season. Julene has been guided by the quote, "She believed she could, so she did," and clearly the belief in herself has lead to all her success.
Julene is also an inspiration herself. Her son, Ian is following in his mom's footsteps and has begun an art business of his own called Tiny Treehouse Art. He makes collages and abstract paintings, as well and shares a booth with Julene at the Moscow Farmers Market. You can find Julene's cards here at the Co-op, as well as other shops and departments stores around the country, and she let us know that one of her next big projects is creating a children's book with an author from Troy. To learn more about Julene and he work click here.