Art/Now/Next: Interview with Julie Rawls

Santa Cruz Art League

Julie Rawls at the Santa Cruz Art League

The Santa Cruz Art League is currently hosting Art/Now/Next, an exhibition featuring 10 emerging local artists under the age of 45. In support of this exciting event, Local Santa Cruz has handed over the mic to some of the talented participating artists whose innovative work is coming into the spotlight.

Introducing Julie Rawls! Julie is a graphic designer who works magic with a variety of mediums ranging from digital to watercolor. Her bold art features intricate blends of color, illustration, typography, and lettering. Among her many creative projects is work that incorporates iconic local elements – her vibrant Victorian Santa Cruz series captures the best of this area’s unique culture and history.

Read on for an interview with Julie Rawls and learn more about this up-and-coming artist and her inspiring work.

Local Santa Cruz: Please tell us about your art. What inspires you and what is your preferred medium and creative process?

Julie Rawls: As a graphic designer by trade, I end up straddling a lot between the digital and the real world. Working outside the design world of brochures, websites, logos, etc. I’m able to explore my more maximalist tendencies and remember what it’s like to create without the constraints and crutches of a computer. I dabble in a handful of mediums, primarily watercolor, graphite, charcoal and acrylic.

Type and lettering are probably my biggest passions. I find inspiration everywhere, from old books and maps to other contemporary designers and murals.

Local Santa Cruz: What is your connection to Santa Cruz and how has it influenced your creative work?

Julie Rawls: My husband, Jon, was born and raised in Santa Cruz. After meeting in New York and a short stint in San Diego we moved to SC to be near family and friends in 2011. Santa Cruz is such a unique town with loads of personality! We’re so close to these huge cities, yet feel so secluded and private. The art scene, in particular, is just incredible. Fresh off the heels of Open Studios, I could not be more impressed with the breadth and quality of art; I was so inspired!

Local Santa Cruz: Tell us about the art you’ll be showing in Art/Now/Next . Why have you chosen the pieces that will be on display and what do they mean to you?

Julie Rawls: If anyone has followed me (@orignauxmoose on Instagram) or LocalSC for a bit they will hopefully recognize the Victorian Santa Cruz series we’ve been working on for a few years. The project combines a love of lettering, illustration and research, with style inspiration coming from the social boom Santa Cruz experienced in the late 1800’s, also known as the Victorian Era. Each piece (of which there are currently 19 neighborhoods, communities, surf spots, etc.) works together modern culture on the historical foundation of our town’s past. One of my favorite reactions has been to the Seabright design, which features the The Castle that used to reside at the beach. “Wow, I never knew there was a castle there!” “So that’s why the gate is shaped like a castle!”

I love how much detail is in each piece and always thought they would look great on a larger scale (they all start as ~8″x~5″ ink drawings), so for this show I wanted to display that. These are hand-painted, in acrylic, on nearly 4’x4′ wood panels. I have loved getting lost in the process of every little brush stroke, then stepping back to see it as a whole. I think these could go even bigger!


Follow Julie Rawls and her work at or on Instagram: @orignauxmoose

Meet this artist and experience her work in person at the Art/Now/Next Opening Reception: First Friday, December 1, 6-8pm at the Santa Cruz Art League.


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