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Art & Life with Julia Newhide

Today we’d like to introduce you to Julia Newhide.

Julia, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
Due to my father’s work overseas I  grew up between California, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon – where I spent the most important years of my life. My family roots being Lebanese, we moved there about  a decade after the civil war had ended. Although my generation did not suffer the same drama my parents did, you could say we experienced the residues of war. Remnants of destroyed buildings, annual car bombs, brief periods of violence between political parties on the streets. People would call it a “ cold war “ waiting to happen – change always being on the horizon. Nothing is constant, nothing is predictable – I had a teacher who once said, “ Adapt or Die”. But what made Beirut a remarkable city to grow up in was the incredible artists whose work provoked us as a society to truly look in the mirror, and process our reality. To make what we take for granted strange again, so that we may imagine a different possibility. Such resilience in times of hardship inspires me, and I feel that I stand on the shoulders of Giants when I think of the great plays, painters, and musicians I have seen there. Personally, I felt connected to the battered buildings – their glory still shone through from a time when Lebanon was called the Switzerland of the Middle East. They are witnesses, beholding a sea of fragile memories just out of reach. And it is these memories I have strived to explore through my art. To understand the violence that took place, and why I feel a stranger in my own home. I am a witness, but unlike the buildings, I will document, with film, painting, whatever I can get my hands on.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I create hand-drawn animation, in which 24 drawings consist of one second of animation. That is 24 frames of having a deep understanding of my subject, why he/she moves the way they do, what they are feeling and finding a good way to draw it on a piece of paper (or a tablet). I am fascinated with body mechanic motion itself, and specifically when it is done by dancers, athletes or martial artists. I like to show in my work, the breaking of the body that happens to these people and the incredible resilience it takes to keep going. Currently, I am animating athletes who do a new street sport called Freestyle Calisthenics, sort of like “street” gymnastics if you will. My recent animation “smoove guillotine” represents a member of a team called Barboogie, one of many crews that practice the sport on Venice Beach. The subjects of my art are usually people who are resilient in the face of the impossible. For example, another animation of mine “Bboy Leito” was based on a Syrian refugee I met in Beirut who had his own break dancing crew and performed on the streets every day. Breakdancing for him was a way to get people to see him as an artist as opposed to a refugee. He defined his own identity in a world that did not want him and made a place for himself. When you see someone give it their all in that situation, you really have no excuse to not be the best artist you can be. There is a wide array of subjects I explore, from self-portraits in painting, motion design in animation and documentary film-making. But in all of them, I like to document the mark artists like Barboogie and Bboy Leito make, and how the world is a better place because of it.

Any advice for aspiring or new artists?
Art school mentality tends to measure the worth of a person’s work by the companies that hire them, the awards they win, and how well they monetize their craft. I think it’s great that we celebrate artists in this way, but it’s irrelevant to artists’ motivation and creation. You don’t need to be shiny to make something cool. Find your quiet place and learn to listen to your own voice. Ultimately it is you who will know if your art looks right, not anyone else.

Finding work as a commercial artist is difficult enough, but what becomes a long term challenge is creating the space outside of work to keep growing artistically. A space where you don’t necessarily need to show the world what you are making, but rather to sit with your odd self, and explore weird ideas! Like a forced meditation, if you will.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?

You can see my art on my Instagram @julianewhide, and my animation on my Vimeo page:

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Personal photograph is by photographer Amanda Majors

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