Local artist splashes her colourful creativeness across Cayman

Posted by on 14th September 2017

Energetic, enthusiastic, creative and fun.

Talented and inspirational local Cayman artist, Kara Julian, is all of the above and so much more.

She can bring any space to life with her artistic flair and injection of colour. You may have noticed a couple of her chalkboard art creations gracing the Wicket Bar area at Cricket Square.

With new entrance signage and Wicket Bar menu boards also on the way, we thought we’d take a peek behind the scenes. As Kara puts it: “There’s no glamour, no stencils, no decals, no perfectly staged backdrops with expensive lighting and certainly no makeup crew. (Notice the hat? Yep, it’s “bad-hair” day). All that takes place right now is absolute chaos! Loads of chalk dust, paint everywhere, long hours and chaos! So let’s crank the music up and make beautiful chalk-art as I think to myself: “I’m gonna need a bigger cup of coffee!”

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I get inspiration from everywhere. Anything that stands out will grab my attention. It could be the typography in a label on a shampoo bottle, colours in a frozen beverage, sunsets and how it paints the sky in so many warm colors, the ocean or even photos from some of my favorite photographers.

When I was dreaming up ideas for the Juiced @ menus however, I got inspiration when I read the great combination of ingredients listed on the menu, from the vibrant colour of each beverage and surprisingly, from the enthusiasm I picked up on, when I listened to the backstory and vision for the Juiced @ concept.

What is involved in creating the Juiced @ boards?

There was a lot of thought and creativity that went into designing the Juiced @ boards.

First I took the the owner’s vision and objectives and then translated them into illustrations, text and colour. I took out my sketchbook and started drawing designs (as they came to me) that were inspired by the menu. I went through four or five concepts for each menu until I settled on an idea that I felt worked the best. Needless to say, there were a lot of drawings.

Then I started paring the illustrations with various styles of handwritten fonts and colours, in order to get a design that made the most impact and delivered on the goal of getting people excited about Juiced @.

While I created the illustrations, my friend and carpenter Benton Conolly designed and built the actual boards. Once again, a lot of care went into the construction of the boards to ensure that they could handle all the wear and tear from everyday use; not to mention exposure to our harsh Caribbean weather.

Once the signs were built, designs finalised and approved, it was off to my studio to start painting. Each sign was individually hand-painted with an original design, using acrylic paints and then sealed with several coats of varnish to protect the artwork.

What was the moment you knew you wanted to become a professional artist?

I finally came to accept that I really wanted to pursue art back in 1997 while away in Florida, studying Accounting and Business Administration.

I came to this conclusion ONLY when my cousin Chris (who was also studying in Florida), popped over to my apartment one evening and pointed out that my dining table and coffee table were always littered with art magazines, art books and airbrushing equipment/tools. Meanwhile my accounting books were usually still tucked away in my backpack.

It was so obvious to him and everyone else (I still hadn’t gotten the memo…LOL!) that I was chasing the wrong dream. I was going through the motions but had not clearly opened my eyes to realise that I was fueled by creativity, not numbers. That was when I first had that “a-ha” moment and started on the journey of becoming a professional artist.

I did not have any formal training in art as I was growing up. It came naturally so I was always drawing and learning on my own. It didn’t help that I was a shy kid and was hesitant to pursue any formal training. When I finally did take a chance and enrolled in a high school art class I ended up feeling discouraged and intimidated by the art instructor. Sadly I dropped the class and resolved to continue teaching myself; with advance training only coming along when I was in my mid-twenties.

What do you love about chalkboard art?

I love working with two contrasting colours (usually black and white). You have to get creative with the use of lettering (the art of drawing letters and words) to make a bold statement. Chalkboards are so versatile and because they are used primarily for marketing, it’s the perfect “canvas” to apply my love of illustrations, lettering and modern calligraphy to tell a story. No two projects are alike so it’s a fun process, bringing a story to life on a simple blackboard.

What is your advice to budding artists looking to follow in your creative footsteps?

My advice for anyone pursuing or wishing to pursue chalkboard art, or any creative outlet in general, is to go for it!! Don’t let anyone discourage your dream. Your passion is what is going to make you successful at your art. Network with other artists and draw inspiration from them. Having said that, I encourage budding artists to stay true to who they are. Be your true original/authentic self, don’t shoplift another artists ideas or designs. Instead, develop your style so that it becomes like your handwriting…one of a kind. And most importantly make sure you LOVE what you are doing and practice, practice, practice. The dream doesn’t become a reality unless you put in the work that’s necessary.

You look very happy…

Getting involved in chalkboard art, was a happy accident. I was approached by the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort four years ago, after they saw my penmanship on a bottle of rum I had hand-painted for a mutual client. They wanted my help in revamping a 24″ x 36″ chalkboard pizza menu that they had, which was basically illegible.

At the time, I didn’t have a clue about designing chalkboards but figured I’d rise to the challenge and learn quickly. To my surprise, I fell in love with the process, was amazed at the impact a nicely designed chalkboard could have and now I design and create chalkboards on a regular basis.

Life has a great way of leading you down roads that you would have otherwise never taken.

Needless to say, I’m enjoying the journey!

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To find out more about Kara, her gallery or to book in for one of her art classes visit her website: http://karajuliansart.blogspot.com

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