Julie Pelaez

Artist of the Month

Julie Pelaez




Envy                                                                                                                                      Barefoot in the Garden

Interview by Katie Dunkle

K: What are you currently working on?

J: I’m currently working on a spiral series. I do some dimensional pieces and I like to have the series at different dimensional depths, where I can frame them together. Another series I’m working on is some figurative drawings. Someone close to me is going through breast cancer so I’m doing some empowering female portraits that are mixed in with the alcohol inks, overtly missing their most feminine body parts but making it really beautiful. It’s very different from the abstract realm but something that I felt like I had to get out of me.

K: What inspired your earlier work, the work that we’ve seen the most of?

J: I had a lot of changes occur in my life around the same time – moving across the country, going from a fast-paced career to being a stay at home mom, and transitioning into being a mom of two. I needed that creative outlet for expression. A lot of my work comes from a very personal place and represents my experiences and emotions in an abstract way. I usually have a concept in my head for composition but a lot of it just happens as it goes. I just respond to what’s unfolding in front of me.

K: What brought you to Austin?

J: My husband and I were just looking for a change of pace. We had been in D.C. for about 20 years and we were sick of the cold weather and wanted to travel. I was an art director in advertising for 10 years there as well. We heard some great things about Austin. We were only supposed to stay for 9 months but now it’s been 4 years! There’s a great energy here that is very freeing. It’s refreshing and it’s a great place to raise a family.

K: A lot of people are interested in the techniques and mediums you use for you work. Can you talk more about that?

J: It’s very different. I use alcohol inks and rubbing alcohol guided by a heat embossing tool, so there’s no actual contact with the surface. What I love about it is that you cannot fully control it. I’ve worked with it long enough to where I can predict results. I’m kind of a control freak so it’s a great exercise for me to let go and be flexible. The bad thing about it is that if you make a mistake you really can’t fix it. It’s a really enjoyable process though. 



I’ve been doing art as long as I can remember but I’ve been doing alcohol inks for about four years. I stumbled across some artwork on the East Austin Studio Tour where I couldn’t pinpoint the medium. The artist told me about the materials and process and I spent the next year experimenting. It immediately called to me and I felt a lot more passionate about alcohol inks than any other medium that I’ve ever worked with, probably because of the lack of control. It’s like this constant challenge - you’re trying to do what you can to create what’s in your head. You’re influencing it but there’s a lot of give and take.



J: I think so. Other mediums were too precise and this is like the opposite. You just have to know when to stop. There will be times when I’m working on something and I’ll have to walk away and sleep on it because you can keep going and going and then make a mistake.

K: What type of boards are you doing them on?

J: I use artist panel. It has to be something heat resistant since I’m blowing the hot air on it and everything is flammable. It also has to be a very smooth surface so the ink can travel easily. I really like working on those boards so I’ve stuck with them in different sizes and depths.

K: Where is your work showing?

J: I currently have a show, “Navigating the Now” at the newly expanded Julia C. Butridge Gallery at the Dougherty Arts Center. It’s up until April 3rd. Smile On Orthodontics in Cedar Park has some of my work up as well though the end of March. I’m also working on new works for the upcoming West Austin Studio Tour in May where I’ll be showing with a group at the Southside Gaiety Hall Artist Co-Op. at 707 W. Live Oak Street.


K: Do you have any professions outside of creative art?

J: Currently, my only other profession is a stay at home mom. It’s great because I have the flexibility to make art when the kids go to bed or are at school. The alcohol inks all started as a hobby so right now I’m pouring more and more energy into it to see where it takes me. I just started marketing myself a year ago and so far I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback.

K: Do you have any spots in Austin that help inspire creativity or new ideas?

J: Not specific spots, but Austin as a whole has been a major influence on my work because when I first started working with alcohol inks I was very new to Austin. A lot of my works symbolized making connections and pathways and carving new roads. Moving to a new city and really feeling the energy here was extremely influential.

K: What can we expect for the future?

J: The medium lends itself to working small and so I’m trying to push bigger and bigger. One of the reasons is because I love how my pieces take on such a different life when enlarging prints at Skyline Art Editions. The bigger I can make the originals, the bigger we can make the enlargements. The biggest I’ve gone in print is a 4ft square and I love the impact. The colors are so vibrant and it can fill a whole room.

Buy Limited Edition Julie Pelaez prints for 20% off this month! 

Use coupon code JULIEMARCH!