PDX Profile: Julie, of Handmade Julz
You may have seen Handmade Julz at some local craft fairs over the summer -- you know, that awesome table display involving the rice? Julie makes bright, beautiful graphic jewelry, surounded by playful wire-work. She's a graphic designer as well as a jewelry-maker, so the graphics in her pendants, bracelets and rings are all her own work. Visit her website to see more!
So how was Handmade Julz born? How did you come to combine your graphic work with jewelry? Handmade Julz was born about 3 years ago. At that time, I was decorating the stems of wine/martini glasses with wire and colorful beads as well as making magnets with small glass gems. In my small apartment things got mixed up on my table so with the combination of all of these pieces around each other I came up with the idea to make my first ring. It was a wedding gift for my friend Suzy, using a piece of her beautifully illustrated invite.
Soon after, I began creating lots of rings that my wonderful mom so graciously offered to try and sell at shows where she was selling her coffee. She came back to me saying that I needed to find a way to make my rings adjustable because a lot of people were wanting to buy them as gifts, but didn't know if they would fit. I figured out a way to make the rings adjustable and also began working on bracelets and necklaces. In the beginning, the images that I was using under the glass were croppings of vintage postcards, but later realized that I should be creating and using my own art as the focus to create a more unique product. After 6 months of creating my jewelry, I started working on a website and 6 months after that launched handmadejulz.com
What kinds of things inspire the images you create for your jewelry? I am inspired by so many things! I love texture, color, patterns, nature and cuteness! My latest images were inspired by all of the wonderful fresh fruit and veggies we have here in Oregon. I usually create images that I would like to wear myself. My boyfriend Brian is also an artist, and he's created about 8 of the images for the site for a different style. When an idea for an image comes to mind I just write It down because I am constantly surrounded by things that I am inspired by.
And people can order customized pieces from you -- tell us about that.
On my website, every order is a custom order. You first choose the piece of jewelry that you would like whether it's a ring, bracelet or necklace. Then you just let me know the image # and wire color that you would like for that piece. I can also create a piece of jewelry with any image that a person sends me for an additional $10.
You've had your business for a couple of years now. What would you say is the most important thing you've learned along the way That's a hard question. I have learned a lot in 2 years. I have learned that the internet is definitely great for business. It's great to have amazing friends and family like I do that have really helped spread the word about my jewelry. I have learned to just be myself and really let my personality come through in the products that I am creating and also in any form of communication that I have with customers.
I've learned about many useful sites like sitemeter.com which lets you track visitors to your site for free! Indiecollective.com, indiedesignerlabels.com, and BUST Magazine's Girl Wide Web are all sites that independent designers can post their sites on to get more traffic, which I have found helpful. I have also learned that the quality of your product is important because your customer will notice a difference. And most important might be the realization that there is never enough time in a day!
How do you define the difference between "Art" and "Craft?" Interesting question. I feel that for myself, and many others out there, they are one in the same. My artwork is incorporated into my craft. Typically though, I think of 'craft' serving more of functional purpose than 'art'.
As a recent transplant to Portland, what are some of your favorite creative spots here so far? This city is great for creativity. I love it! I think that for me just getting out of the house or spending time with friends is when I come up with new ideas. This summer my favorite creative spots have been my studio and also going to Mt. Tabor and to Laurelhurst Park and working there. Coming from Texas, I wasn't ever able to do that during the summer!
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