Interview by Sheila Sunshine
For our last interview of the 2018 Delaware Fun-A-Day, Sheila Sunshine talked with Julia Jay Hardman how she "geeks out", her art upbringing, and doing "cover art". Thanks, Julia!
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We like to know how people are connected to Delaware - are you a resident, born and raised? What opportunities have you found here?
Delaware is my home, as I was born and raised here. I’ve lived in a few other places, and visited many. I have been back in Delaware for a few years, now. I’m starting to feel this weird pull to escape. It's the feeling Disney Princesses sing about when the want their lives to change. It’s conflicting, because there is so much I love here. So I’m starting to have shows in Baltimore. Which is a good start. I want my art to impact a wider audience.
This is going to be your fourth year participating! Can you describe one of your past Fun-A-Day projects?
Understanding the history of art is, I believe, key to being a dynamic artist. I do not shirk the influence of other artists. I want to venerate the greats. Some I do despise. Like Warhol and Dali. However, I understand they had a profound impact on art. I might feel a certain way about them, but I also must respect them. So it goes. Since humans started making art, certain patterns and poses represent specific things. For example, legs depicted at different angles represents movement. As an artist I naturally create images in that custom, as so many artists have done before me whether they notice or not. I should learn how other artists did it before me. That was the key to my last Fun-A-Day project. I call that drawing style “covers.” I used to get jealous that my musician friends could take songs they loved and make them their own. I decided to do that with my art. Covers are a mix of homage and personal expression.
Your work typically features a bold, dark line, and soft color transitions. Did you always draw? How did you learn?
My great uncle would tell a story about me when I was three. I don't remember the details, but it involved waiting in a dentist's office and me just picking up some crayons and near perfectly drawing a picture of a swan. My great uncle would embellish stories. But drawing is something I have always done. It sometimes bothers me when people call my work "illustrations." Like, your art has to look a type of way in order to be called "Art." Is drawing just an illustration thing, or can drawings be seen as high "Art?" I think about this quite a bit.
I have my own personal style, true. But it came from years of study and making everything from abstract oil paintings to prints off a press. I have my style because, in everything I have seen or learned about, I haven't seen are just like mine. I'm glad people seem to like it.
You illustrate such a wide variety of subject matter! Last September you had an interesting show which is now at the Christiana Motel called “If they're in front of you they go too fast; if they're behind you they go too slow” which focused on tractor trailers and then for the Fun-A-Day show right after that you illustrated your version of famous artistic works. Do you have an overarching theme or idea? What draws you to these vastly different subjects?
The trucks were more of a collaborative series. I’m not sure whose idea it was to start photographing the ones that drove by Street Road Project Space. But I got very good at it. A year later I’m drawing the trucks from those random photographs. They are now in the Christiana Motel, which they are perfect for.
You participate in quite a few local venues such as Oddball Art Hall at Oddity Bar and the Street Road Artists Space. What are some of your favorite local art spots?
Oddball Art Hall is the best thing to happen to local artists. Period. Oddity and 1984 are the only places I like. Mainly I draw at Brew Ha Ha when I’m not working behind the counter.
Please describe your 2018 Project:
What made my last show so successful was the variety of images I had. Thus, I went with a broad and metaphysical theme: Destruction. I went the melodramatic because I think it fits where the world is right now. So many people talk about how things are falling apart. There is an atmosphere of resignation to the ruin. Destruction is where we are. But it isn’t so bad. History flows from one fallen era to the other. Some must be forsaken in order for the world to evolve. Revolutions happen. Death breathes life and yada yada.
If you could experience a “day in the life” in a different person’s shoes, who would choose and why?
I would like to be a successful white male. Maybe an accountant. Something dull and sane. I would live in a rosy world where the worst thing to happen to me is my dog was hit by a car when I was 12. Everything smooth since. I would have done things like be a Prom Prince and gone on Spring Break. I would drink on weekends, and play point-and-shoot video games on the weekdays. I’m the type of guy who plays kickball with his office buddies and watches “The New Girl” to be edgy. I would commonly be high-fived by my boss. I would eventually marry. I like to talk about how America’s golden age was the 1950s. And how it’s hard to be a white guy. I would be that guy for a day. That guy sucks. But I bet he’s stupidly happy. Otherwise, I just want to always be me. Just somewhere else.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I can draw. I am a master of one. But I can draw anything but horse’s legs and sleek machinery. I traveled with my family when I was smaller. That had a pretty profound impact on me. I saw the Mona Lisa and other famous works up close (as close as one can). I’ve seen the pyramids. But then, I also saw a random tour guide take a poo behind one of the blocks of the pyramid. I have a deep loving amazement at all the amazing things in the world. But I also know how crappy the world can be. On one hand, I was exposed to all this astonishing art and history. On the other hand, I was exposed to the darker side of things that come with exploring the world. I mean, I could have been a brat and ignored all the museums and historical locations we visited. I’m lucky I didn’t. I wouldn’t make the art I do if I wasn’t a history nerd from a tiny age. Now I'm just a nerd about everything. All my subjects come from things, I have in one way or another, geeked out over.
Where can people see more of your work?
I am not very good at being “professional” when it comes to my art. I have no portfolio style photos of my art. I never want to frame my works. I don’t have business cards, nor a website. People kept asking me if I use instagram. So, I did get one. I'm JuliaJayHardman. Eventually I do want to be more economical. Now, I’m just focused on making the art.
See Julia's work at www.instagram.com/juliajayhardman and at Delaware Fun-A-Day 2018 on April 6 (7,8) at The Delaware Contemporary!