Julia Fletcher is a music-based designer and photographer based in Manhattan, NY. She is a merchandise designer for Second City Prints, a photographer for AdHoc Presents, a Brooklyn event promoter and print publication, and an editorial intern for Alt Citizen, an online music publication for NYC music & culture. Inspired by the colors and artwork of 70’s/80’s new wave/post-punk album artwork, she brings a fun, colorful, and nostalgic feeling to musician’s identities through poster design, album artwork, and merchandise. Her personal work explores internet culture, online perception, and appropriation, usually through the lens of humor and personal experience.
TRIGGER WARNING: This interview talks about substance abuse and emotional/domestic abuse.
Absolutely love your collection of writings ‘Private Show’ you shared on your Instagram. Can you tell us a bit more about the inspiration behind creating this?
My senior year of college I was dealing with a lot of emotions and trauma I couldn’t even begin to process. I knew I wanted to make work about it but didn’t know how to go about it. I thought long and hard but nothing really seemed to click, but sometimes things that are meant to be come out naturally. One night I just thought “well what if I put my writings about alcohol on a liquor store receipt so the presentation matches the subject matter?” and from there everything else was easy.
You‘re a photo major, what did art school do for you in regards to finding who you were as a designer?
I graduated with a BFA in photo from art school thinking I was going to get a job as a photographer. I quickly learned that’s a lot harder than I thought, so I adapted to the job field around me and picked up more of those multidisciplinary jobs that allow you to do design, video, photo, animation, etc. for social media. The NYC job industry hasn’t exactly been kind to me, so I got sucked into healthcare to help me pay rent in the city while I looked for something else. While I accepted a corporate job, I started designing after I got home from work to give myself something to do. I found that I liked it a lot more than I thought, and created a brand new portfolio for myself and started pursuing that more. Art school didn’t do much for me as far as me figuring out who I was as a designer because I figured that out by myself post grad!
Young creatives often find a lot of pressure to know “all” the design programmes, is this something you think is overrated? And for those wondering, what are your go-to design programmes to use?
You definitely don’t need to know all the design programs. I find that it’s easy to cheat your way to the top — all of my work is creating in Photoshop and sometimes people think I use Illustrator but to be honest I don’t know the first thing about Illustrator. If you can get the work done on your own terms, don’t feel pressured to learn how to make things another way.
What advice would you give to someone trying to find their “style” within design?
As designers I feel like our style comes out subconsciously whether we know it or not. What we make is inspired by every single piece of media, advertisement, and graphic we’ve ever seen and admired. So even if you don’t think you have a “style” yet, you definitely have styles you gravitate towards. The best advice I could give is find work you really love and try to figure out why you love it, and just keep making stuff because you’ll find out quickly what you do like do make and what you don’t like to make.
You love music-based design, where do you draw most of your inspiration from?
I draw almost all of my inspiration from album artwork and music itself! Specifically 70s/80s punk album covers and posters. Sometimes I’ll hear an album that will inspire a certain graphic style or color palette, based on how the music makes me feel. When I’m designing for a specific artist, like a commission for example, I’ll listen to that band to get a better feel for them as artists, to see what about them inspires me. Also constantly inspired by the internet and small artists I follow on Instagram.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
Create work for yourself! Not for other’s approval — there’s that saying “If someone else likes it, that’s just a plus” and I stand by that every day.