As part of our new blog post theme, that of ‘Meet the art teacher/tutor/artist’ each month we will highlight either an art teacher/tutor or artist and ask a handful of questions, nothing too serious but something that could encourage some interaction between art teachers, artists also college tutors.
Portfolio Oomph founder Julie Read kicks it off – if you would like to take part or know someone who would then download the questions here and fire them back to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Who are you and where do you work?
Julie Read artist and I am the founder of Portfolio Oomph – online hub covering all aspects of applying to art college. I work from home in Newtongrange, Midlothian in Scotland. You can see my artwork here.
2. When did you decide you wanted to be an art tutor/artist?
You know, I never really decided that it was something that I wanted to do. It really was just a path that gradually unfolded naturally. When I was at school I was only really good at art and making things but the careers options and services weren't especially good so the idea of being an artist wasn't really considered. I took one step at a time, until I found myself having graduated and thinking 'hmmmm, what will I do now!' Not very responsible but that's how it was.
I just continued making my own work, showing in small group shows and selling the odd piece here and there. As I got more involved in teaching work I was able to work more ambitiously as I was able to fund it better. Luckily I have received a number of awards that have allowed me to work in the way I choose and show this work at home and abroad.
In the year after I graduated my ex-tutor at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design invited me to return to do a small block of teaching on the first year course, so this was my first experience of teaching. I enjoyed it so sent my CV off to the foundation course where I studied at Chesterfield College and worked there on a temporary basis over 3 years for one term a year. This really instilled the fact that I really wanted to do more but it was difficult to get the work so I decided it would be in my best interests to do a teacher training for further and higher education. Not many people had this qualification at the time and I do think that this was quite influential in securing permanent tutoring jobs at Edinburgh College of Art and Dundee College.
3. Where and what did you study?
I studied an art foundation course at Chesterfield College and then Fine Art Printmaking at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee.
4. What is the best thing about being an artist/tutor?
The flexibility of work patterns is great as I am very rarely doing the same thing every day. When I was teaching at the colleges I had 2 jobs which meant a great variety of work, students and colleagues – what do they say about variety being the spice of life! Setting up Portfolio Oomph has been challenging and I have learnt so many new skills – certainly here I never do the same thing every day. This and helping others to achieve their potential I find very rewarding.
5. How would you describe your style (clothes, art, home….whichever you choose)
My style in the home and clothes I guess would be verging on minimal, nothing fussy, but bold – I don't like to conform, typical artist hey?
6. Do you listen to music while you’re working? If so, what?
No, I can't concentrate even to do the simplest tasks with music on! It can make the day rather bland but I can't write or think straight with music on. I think that's come with age as I am sure I used to have music blasting all the time.
7. Which artist or designer inspires you most and why?
Gosh, this is a hard one – and I wrote the questions! It's like 'what's your favourite music?' question which I hate! Hmmm, it changes from year to year but ones that have stayed with me for some time are: Bill Viola, Rachel Whiteread, Anthony Gormley, ….. for their absolute honesty and passion for their ideas that are formulated in their beautiful work.
'Visions of the invisible' ultra violet drawings by Julie Read
8. If you could give one bit of advice to your 18-year-old self, what would it be?
Do what you want to do, aim high, dream hard and let nothing stand in your way.
9. What advice would you give to anyone who wants to become an artist or designer?
As the above. Traits you must also develop are to be persistent; chasing a creative career means you have to be resilient, ambitious and highly entrepreneurial.
10. What’s your greatest achievement?
By far, it's having our wee daughter Bibi. She is an absolute delight and I am in awe of her every day.
11. What three things would you still like to do before you die?
To see our daughter develop, grow and pursue her own dreams. Travel and culturally related: visit India, Japan.
12. What’s your favourite food?
There's a bit of Japanese noodle thing going on just now, particularly ramen (noodle soup) which I've been making rather a lot recently with vegetables and tofu as I am vegetarian. Hope I don't over-do it though and get sick of it soon as I do have a habit of doing this kind of thing!
13. Where was the last place you went on holiday?
We had a fabulous family holiday in Port Logan in the Rhins of Galloway, south west Scotland. We'd had 2 holidays abroad the previous years and in hindsight we decided taking a toddler abroad was too stressful. So we holidayed close to home and it was just so much more enjoyable! I love the heat but not when you're chasing a toddler around who's nutty from needing a sleep and sticky with sun cream.
14. What was the last book you read?
Sadly, it was a business book called 'Turning Pro' by Stephen Pressfield.
15. What is your biggest distraction?
Has to be social media, Facebook in particular. Because I use it for the business I have it open in the browser most of the time (that's my excuse anyway!) and I hate to think of all the time I have wasted getting taken along paths of interesting things online – usually art related though.
16. If you ruled the world, what single act would you carry out.
I would spread the wealth, there is no need for the poorest in our world to be so when there is so much affluence elsewhere – it's so unjust.
17. Do you have any regrets?
None that I can think of. Perhaps a little, that I look back now and think I could have made much more of my experience at art college (in an academic way as we did party rather hard!) but then that's only when I see what resources are available now. There was no internet when I was at college and exploring the world of art and communication was so much more difficult. But I can't change when I was born!
18. In no more than five words, write your own epitaph (optional!)