Creating Playful Patterns with Julie Yulle
I discovered the French artist Julie Yulle’s colorful patterns last year and was immediately drawn to her vibrant, cheerful little world. I imagine the little totems she creates as insects or birds chirping and cooing at each other from opposite ends of the patterns, like entering a tropical paper jungle. What breathes such life into her motifs is their handmade nature, so immediately obvious that even when printed on wallpaper, her patterns seem to jump off the page. I was lucky enough to get to chat with Julie last week about her artistic process, the origins of her unique work and fostering an artistic community at the intersection of the art world and product design.
It’s in 2014 that Julie first started playing around with the paper cutout techniques she uses today. When asked how the idea came about, she described experiencing a sort of “illustrator’s block”.
“I started to draw but sometimes you search for something, but can’t quite find your subject”
In an effort to get out of her rut, she began to experiment with her own version of a Rorschach test, using scissors instead of ink by folding paper in half and cutting out random shapes.
“I was searching for a way to return to something instinctive, to get out of my own head and let my instinct guide me”
Interview with "Creative Crush" Julie Yulle
G&S: Your work is quite unique, so I’d love to hear how you define it, what do you answer to the eternal question “What do you do?”
JY: Ah yes THE question; to simplify, I usually say that I’m an artist and textile designer, but in reality my work is truly multi-facetted.
The creative process
G&S: Can you take us through your creative process step by step?
JY: I have my own sources of inspiration which are closely linked to nature and more generally all living things… For me there is no hierarchy between plants, animals or humans for example; every living thing interests me down to cellular shapes from science books. I find our similarities with even these forms of life touching in the sense that we’re all somehow cut from the same cloth.
I like to have themes. Sometimes they’re guided by a collaborative exposition that I’m preparing in which case I’ll let my mind wander until it takes grip on something.
For example, I worked on an expo called “Fantasmagoria” which was meant to translate to “Anything and Everything”. There, we decided to create a world around a sort of invented religion, so I researched a variety of symbols and shapes relating to all types of worship.
At its origins, my work is very mixed media. I start off with a manual process, preparing all sorts of paper that I paint, dye, splatter or alter in some way. I consider these to be like a painter’s palette that I can pick and choose from, creating paper compositions and constructions. I then photograph elements which I recreate completely on my computer so that I’m then able to modify and resize them without limits.
The original paper compositions are always meant to be exposed as works of art, so I try to link my patterns to an exposition when possible. I also print wallpaper on demand, this allows for huge flexibility and I’m even able to offer personalized color combinations and sizes in addition to my “ready to use” motifs. I also have my designs printed on fabric which is transformed into objects like cushions or fabric vases… and I’ve recently also ventured into packaging design.
G&S: Obviously paper is your medium of choice, are there any other materials that you’d like to work with?
JY: I love paper, but it has its limitations, so I always wonder how I can apply the same technique to other materials. At the moment I’m experimenting with colored projector sheets, which really inspire me to explore working with light as well.
G&S: What are your current color obsessions?
JY: I love all colors, especially bright ones that I can tarnish a bit. At the moment I’m very into pale pinks, with blues and greens.
Background & Early Career
G&S: Can you tell us a bit about your background?
JY: The path that took me here was… winding, and not exactly pre-calculated.
I started off at an art school called ENSAD (Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs). My studies were geared towards all types of printing, but my specialty was screen printing; a technique that’s both artisanal and also used in industrial level production.
After graduating I started illustrating for the press but soon realized that it wasn’t quite my calling. Since I had always been drawn to home decoration, I started playing around with fabric. My experiments in fabric sculptures led me to open a boutique workshop with a friend in the garment industry which we ran together for five years.
All of this allowed me to perfect my sewing skills as well as pursue and explore my calling for home decoration; but I still felt like something was missing… I felt limited in textile choices and really yearned to design my own patterns. When we made the decision to close the workshop, I took the opportunity to learn the necessary computer skills for pattern design.
Questions For A Creative-prenuer
G&S: Which is the project are you the proudest of, that you consider to be your greatest achievement?
JY: Probably my latest project in designing packaging for “Atelier Cologne”. It was such a pleasure to work with a brand that put such trust in me. Seeing the culmination of it all come together at the corner in Galleries Lafayette was really gratifying.
G&S: On the other end of the spectrum, I’m also exploring the concept of reframing failures. Can you tell us about your biggest failure or challenge to overcome and what you’ve learnt from it?
JY: Oh la la, there were many! What has been complicated for me is finding my place, since my work is at the intersection of art and product design. I’ve had many difficult experiences like not showing my work at the right places, at places with the wrong audience, times when people just weren’t willing to spend money…
G&S: And so how is it that you ended up finding your place?
JY: There are two things that really helped me and that I try to focus on now. The first is working on collaborative projects with other artists for the emulsion, exchange and positive energy. The second is Instagram and social media. Having the goal of posting on a regular basis really encourages me to continue my work and it’s also brought me lots of leads and has helped me find my audience.
G&S: What was your best investment, whether it be in time or in money?
JY: Working with an agency to build my website, not just for the e-shop aspect but also for the virtual window display aspect. And then having an artist agent to focus on the business side of things has also been really valuable for me.
G&S: What is the best advice that you’ve received or advice that you’d pass on to fellow artists starting out?
JY: Work on shared expos or in a shared studio, and don’t hesitate to contact other artists for collaborations. I was contacted once by an artist who offered to show my work in her studio and it helped me meet lots of people and foster a sense of community!
Thanks so much to Julie for sharing her words of wisdom! To see more of her work and purchase some of her to-die-for wallpaper, cushions or original artwork head to julieyulle.fr and for constant influx of inspiration and cheerful good vibes, follow her on Instagram @julieyulle
Is there an artist you'd like to read more about? Let me know in the comments!
Pppsstt- If you enjoyed this piece check out our other "Creative Crush" artist profiles below!