Today we’d like to introduce you to Julie Ahmad.
Julie, we’d love to hear your story. How did you become an artist? What inspires your art?
I became an artist after I had my daughter, Aaliyah. I worked in fashion and dabbled in real estate investing prior to starting my family, but I knew I needed something that would give me the flexibility in order for me to juggle both. I also needed a low-stress job in order to create a healthy environment for our child.
I create large-scale abstract art. I spent most of my twenties in NYC where most of my influence and tastes were developed. I love to experiment with different mediums; in most of my pieces, you’ll find acrylic paint, oil pastel crayons, charcoal, metallic foiling and just about anything that will leave a mark. A large part of who I am as an artist is my Instagram feed as this is where I express my thoughts and feelings by sharing inspirational quotes on topics like feminism, empowerment, and encouraging people to be real and celebrate our imperfections.
Intuitive painting embraces acceptance because there are no mistakes, and every day my paintings are a daily practice of accepting my flaws as beautifully human.
Tell us about “Femme-Easta.”
I have brought together Billie Claire, Haley Lebeuf and Jennifer Pate to form Femme-Easta, an all-female group of Austin artists. We are showing together at the EAST Austin Studio tour this November 2018 to present, “We Have Something to get off our Chest.” This showcase will feature current work from all the artists, as well as a unique, interactive installation that all attendees are encouraged to contribute.
Participants are invited to choose or create their own quote or phrase outlining a social expectation or construct that resonates with the individual and is something they “want to get off their chest.” For example, “Women aren’t catty, people are,” “I’m only a whore because my sexuality scares you,” or “Our rights do not diminish yours.”
If the participant would like to have the opportunity to connect with others that are like-minded, they can choose to add their Instagram handle, or they are welcomed to remain anonymous.
Then, participants will take a Polaroid photo with their quote, and add their photo to a chalkboard wall under the phrase, “We have something to get off our chest…” which will be hand-lettered and illustrated by Billie Claire. The wall will also have cheeky and unique breast illustrations throughout, in celebration of the variety of shapes and sizes that make the female form.
What are some obstacles that you face being an artist, being a woman and being a woman artist? How have you navigated and overcome these obstacles?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told, “Oh how nice. You’re an artist… your husband must do really well.” It’s so belittling for people to automatically assume your husband is enabling your “cute hobby” while you galavant around shopping and eating bonbons all day. The truth is I work well over 50 hours a week, have two employees and hustle to make my business grow completely autonomous from my husband’s paycheck. Not only am I a full-time artist, but I am a creative businesswoman rockin’ my entrepreneurial game. I’m proud of who I am and what I’ve built in less than five years.
I didn’t always feel this confident, especially at the beginning of my career. I often felt guilty for putting the burden of our family expenses on my husband’s shoulders. I bought into the fact that my work was less important because it didn’t bring in as much money as his. Thankfully, my husband didn’t feel this way at all. He understood that businesses took time to grow and mature and was always encouraging me to keep going. He helped me realize my value couldn’t always be measured in dollars and cents, and for this support, I am so grateful to him.
Why is creating a community of local, female artists important to you? What kind of social impact do you want to make through your art?
I love the energy I get from working with other creatives. Being an artist at times can be quite isolating, this is a way for me to balance that out and nourish my extroverted side. I’m also very committed to uplifting and building a strong community which is why I choose to collaborate with other female artists as too many times I see talent go wasted because of a lack of support. We are stronger together, and there is no doubt.
Through this installation, I hope participants will feel freed, validated, and find connections with others who feel the same way they do. Writing down thoughts and having other humans witness your expression is incredibly liberating and can have the power to make a great shift within one’s self.
- Website: www.julieahmad.com
- Phone: 702-468-4280
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/julieahmad_art
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/julieahmadart
- Other: www.julieahmad.com/femme-easta
Cori Baker, Blake Mendoza