Community update with Julie O’Rourke
Julie is an artist and designer living in Camden, Maine. She is currently a member of two Arts based collectives, Muwin and the Steel House as well as co-owner of WHEREDOYOUGOTO//Design Co. Julie was a visiting artist for Art on the Farm in 2010 where she taught drawing and painting, but also boosted morale on long bus rides with impromptu tunes played on the ukulele.
CHS: What personal projects have you been working on most recently? Can you describe a bit about your process and the themes you’ve been exploring?
JO: Most of the work I do is design based, for both personal and client work. I find a lot of satisfaction in figuring out how to intertwine these two things seamlessly, and be true to a specific process. Whether I’m creating a logo or painting a watercolor I always start in the same place – I make sure that everything starts and stays mainly on paper before it ever crosses over to a computer. You’ll see that a lot of the work I do – both personally and professionally – is informed primarily by the place I live. I think it’s important to really understand where you are and why you are there before you can understand what you are going to do with it.
CHS: What is your most vivid memory from your summer teaching here at Cow House? How did the experience inform you as an artist & teacher?
JO: There are so many! Well, I remember writing a lot of really bad songs on the ukulele – I still haven’t learned to play properly. Sorry guys! The thing that sticks out to me most though, was how motivated everyone was. It’s really inspiring to me when there is a large group of people working together and feeding off of each other’s creativity. Everyone had a common goal at Cow House, which was to make and share and learn. This sort of communal living and working has really been reflected in the way I teach and practice.
CHS: You are part of several collaborations at the moment. What do you enjoy about working with other creative people?
JO: Yes! I am a co-founder of two Arts based collectives, Muwin and the Steel House as well as co-owner of WHEREDOYOUGOTO//Design Co. Each of these projects began with the idea that we as artists are all stronger in a group than we are on our own. Everyone that I work with has a very different set of skills – we share what we create, we work collaboratively on projects, and we support each other through individual ventures. It’s amazing how much you can get done when you have a team behind you.
CHS: You have an entrepreneurial spirit. To what end does this serve your creative practice?
JO: Honestly, it can be a little distracting. It’s hard to tame the excitement of “what’s next!” and remember to focus on what I’m working on in the moment. But all in all it’s a really empowering and freeing feeling to know that I have ultimate control over what I do creatively.
CHS: You now live in a rural location, but have lived in big cities in the past. What are the benefits of living in the countryside? What are the biggest challenges as a creative person living away from large urban centres?
JO: The things I love most about living in the country are probably the littlest things like looking out my studio window and seeing the ocean. I like how much space and time it affords me to do my own work. And the people are so wonderful – it’s really special to be in a place that people choose to live rather than need to live. The biggest challenge for me, though, is that it actually takes work to make sure I’m caught up with the rest of the world. Being in an urban center you are constantly surrounded by news and art and culture and you soak it in and its part of you, here you have to make a conscious effort to find it. But it can be found!