I Hated Art. Then I Became An Artist.

One of my favorite pieces from 2016, "Stargazer."
Once upon a time, a little Southern American girl was born. From an early age, she loved art and stories. When she was eight years old, she wrote and drew her first comic book, “Adventures With My Imaginary Friends,” on a lined legal pad. Though she never finished it, sitting down every day to make it was incredibly fun.

Over the years, however, she drifted away from art. She kept writing stories, sure, but she started thinking she and art weren’t meant to be together. She couldn’t think of what to make on her own, and art classes were all vases and flowers and painting from vacation photos. That stuff was boring.

When she went to college, she was happy to get away from it all. No more art classes, no more vases and flowers, no more indecision. She didn’t have time for that. She was a student now, and she had grades to keep up.

By the time she graduated college (and got married), she thought she and art were done forever.

Oh, how little she knew.

It happened a year after graduation, ninja-style. She had just moved, and she was unpacking boxes she hadn’t touched in quite a while.

And there it was: her old graphics tablet.

It was nothing fancy, just a basic Wacom Bamboo tablet. She didn’t know if Wacom even made those anymore. She’d gotten it in high school with money from her part-time job. Sadly, she’d never really “clicked” with it, so most of the time it had just collected dust.

Well, when she touched that tablet now, a light turned on in her head. Several lights, actually, arranged to spell two words: MAKE ART.

So she did. She dug out all her old art supplies and started drawing. It was crazy, an artistic renaissance that came out of nowhere. But she was having more fun than she ever remembered having in high school. In a matter of weeks, she couldn’t imagine life without art, and she’s been making it ever since.

That girl is me, Julia Harrison.

Now that I’m a couple years along from my renaissance, I can tell you exactly what arrested my artistic journey. I hadn’t found the art I loved. Back in high school, I thought of art as vases, flowers, and the occasional portrait. Though I did have fun with portraits sometimes, I didn’t care for the rest of it, and I thought that meant I didn’t care for art.

Then, as a busy college student, I discovered Pinterest (yes, Pinterest). That discovery changed everything for me. Through Pinterest, I found the kinds of art that truly capture my imagination:

  • concept art for sci-fi/fantasy movies and games;
  • sci-fi/fantasy illustration;
  • splashy abstract art;
  • space art; and
  • high fashion – the elaborate, dramatic kind with gorgeous colors and detailing.

At the same time, my studies as a history major led me to two core beliefs that lend themselves to artistic expression. First, I came to believe in imagining a positive future for the human race. Sure, I have as much fun with dystopias as the next person, but they’re a dime a dozen now, and people need hope too. I want to give that hope. I want to assume we can solve our problems and make a better life for us all.

I also believe in empowering women and minorities. Traditionally, most heroes in sci-fi, my genre of choice, have been white men. I didn’t recognize the subtle, disheartening impact that had on me until I encountered my first female heroes: the Jedi Exile in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II (nerd alert!) and Commander Shepard in Mass Effect. After I experienced their stories, I was addicted. There’s something about having a direct connection to the hero – a connection as deep as “she’s a woman like me!” – that simply can’t be beat. Now that I’ve experienced it, I want to share it with people who don’t look like me.

Those core beliefs show up in my long-term sci-fi project, “The Oracle Fragment.” It’s the first comic book – or “graphic novel,” as the grown-ups are calling them these days – that I’ve worked on since I was eight years old. It’s been around in some form or another for over ten years. I believe in it deeply, so much so that I’m making it my flagship art project. You’ll see a lot about it on this blog. I even have a whole section of this website dedicated to it, which you can check out HERE.

At this point, you may be thinking, “Okay, I get it. You’re an artist with a past. But why should I follow your blog? There are a billion blogs out there. What makes yours so great?” Well, I’m not going to claim my blog is great. But I like honesty, so I’ll tell you exactly what you’re going to get from this blog:

  • Inspiration and wonder. I love looking at other people’s art; it’s what gets me through the day. I also love space, science, technology, crazy clothes, and designs that challenge my idea of what’s possible. All that inspiration gets poured into my art, and I love sharing those raw materials.
  • A first look at everything I do and make. This blog is my prime spot for behind the scenes shots, news about works in progress, art launches, all that good stuff. I might even throw some special goodies in, like coupons for my Etsy shop. So if you’ve seen my art and like it, this blog is the place to be.
  • The occasional how-to. I know the kind of art I want to make, and I’m always looking for new ways to make it happen. You can bet I’m going to share what I learn.
  • Thoughts about art and life. I’m an artist, so naturally I’ll talk about art. And you can’t talk about art without talking about life.
  • Love for sci-fi, movies, video games, and general geekiness. I’m a huge fan of Star Wars, Star Trek, Mass Effect, Firefly, and more besides. If you like that kind of thing, come talk to me! I’m always interested in meeting like-minded people.

Of course, at the end of the day, this blog is a work in progress. Topics will come and go as I find its special little niche. You’re welcome to come along for the ride and tell me how it’s treating you.

I’m planning on bi-weekly updates to start. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss a post!

In the meantime – be well, stay safe, and CREATE THINGS. \\//

 

Comments

  1. I’ll be following your career with great interest! My 12-yo daughter is very much like you in the artsy/geeky vein. I try to encourage her in it as often as possible.

    • Julia Harrison

      That’s awesome, Jim! I appreciate your interest 🙂 I hope my career becomes a source of inspiration and encouragement for people like your daughter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *