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Meet Julia Moraes

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

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and art has been a part of my life from a very young age. My parents always motivated me to draw, paint, take as many classes as I wanted and explore different materials while growing up. My mom especially, even though she was terrible at drawing; she has always enjoyed crafts, embroidery, sewing and knitting, so I grew up in a very hands-on and creative environment.

As a teenager, I participated in a few exhibitions, winning some awards, but when the time to choose a career path came, I felt completely lost. Back then, animation was not a thing, especially in my country, so if I wanted to be able to provide for myself choosing fine arts would be the same as choosing a life of instability. So the closest that I could get to having a stable career was going into advertising. During the four years of my BA, I was drawn to taking classes from the design department, and to nobody’s surprise, as soon as I graduated in advertising, I started a new BA in graphic design, which led me to Art Center College of Design, in 2011.

After living in Pasadena for seven months and experiencing all that art scenery, the world just felt too small. Many possibilities opened up and I was completely inspired and overwhelmed by it. I came back to Brazil, started working full time with graphic design and publishing, but just couldn’t adapt anymore. I missed the buzz, the art scenery, the art classes and the smell of art supplies, so I found my way back to UCLA in 2013 to finish my degree in graphic design and illustration.

Since I was relatively new to LA, I took the time to immerse myself in art. I took as many life drawing classes as I could and interned at as many different places as possible. I was thirsty to learn, make connections and make things happen! During these years, I got the chance to intern at places like The Getty, Disney’s Animation Research Library, FoX networks and FOX consumer products. Looking back, it was one of the most amazing and rewarding times of my life, despite all the challenges.

On my first year back in LA, I was lucky enough to meet my future husband, who is also an artist. I can definitely say that, aside from my parents, he has been one of my biggest inspirations and supporters, allowing me to pursue this art career path, always motivating me to push harder and follow my dreams.

My first full-time job in LA was designing children’s books, a big passion of mine for many years, but the need for more led me to freelance with consumer products, another huge love of mine.

For the past few years, I decided to take a leap of faith and follow the freelance life in order to choose the work that aligned better with my goals. I am so grateful for all of the clients that became friends and the incredible projects that I got to bring to life.

In the meantime, I started building a small stationery business with my mom. Our love of stationery and surface design has led us on a path of designing handmade sketchbooks, tote bags, pencil cases and others. This journey has been both rewarding and challenging, as we design all of the products between Los Angeles and Rio de Janeiro.

Recently, I was lucky enough to have gotten the chance to work directly with animation and it has been a dream come true. For someone who thought that drawing would never be more than a hobby if I wanted to survive, I think the little five years old me would be pretty thrilled to hear I am now drawing full time and working on an animated series at Bento Box. Life is pretty cool sometimes! ☺️

Has it been a smooth road?
Never! Hahaha Being away from my family, especially as an only child, has always been a struggle. Our family has always been super close and we still are, thanks to Facetime! But aside from that, the life of an immigrant is never easy. I was used to having a comfortable life while growing up in Brazil, but coming to LA meant giving up a lot of things to pursue my dream. The struggle was real! For the first two years in Los Angeles, I didn’t have a car and would go everywhere using public transportation. It would take me over 4 hours round trip in order to make it to a class. Life in LA can get pretty lonely sometimes and definitely some days, I truly felt like packing my bags and going back home, especially during birthdays and holidays. But dealing with the “what if’s” of life has never been my thing. So when things got hard, I would give myself a pity day to cry it out and then move on.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Julia Moraes Designs – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
Julia Moraes Designs was born from my love for drawing. I always wanted to learn how to bind my own sketchbooks, but back then I was juggling with work and my studies, so my mom jumped in and decided to take a binding class to teach me on my free time. It just happened that she fell in love with the art. Later on, friends started asking her to bind sketchbooks for them as well, but we never really saw it as a business. Years later, around 2015, when my husband and I were participating in animation conventions, he was the one pushing us to combine forces. I was just starting to get into pattern design and he suggested that I use my designs on my mom’s sketchbooks. The first chance we had to try out our product with a wider public was at CTN Animation Expo in Burbank.

To our surprise, it was very well received by the art community and we sold out of sketchbooks, giving us a greater incentive to keep going. The following year, we came back with new ideas, fancier designs and the business started to grow even more. Our extra challenge was to keep production throughout the year even though my mom and I were thousands of miles apart from each other. That was definitely our biggest barrier! I would design and print the patterns here in Los Angeles and my mom would bind the books in Rio. We depended on my visits to Brazil and her visits to LA, as well as the help of dear friends to transport the books and materials needed back and forth. And that’s how we became a Stationery Company held by mother and daughter. A family business that grew with dedication and that we manage to make it work across time zones and thousands of miles.

All of our patterns are exclusive, printed on 100% organic cotton and specially designed to evoke happiness and good feelings in our clients and community. We use a variety of different media such as markers, watercolor, gouache and whatever gets us inspired to create! I think what sets us apart from other companies is that each and every single pattern and product is created with love and care, thinking of all the details just to make it special for our costumers. And the fact that our sketchbooks are handmade, one by one, they are one of a kind and because of that, we take the time to make sure the quality reaches our own definition of excellence.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Career-wise, my parents have always been the best. They never pulled back from helping me get where I wanted to go, even if sometimes, they were against my decisions. My mother. She is a rockstar! She splits herself in two and makes sure my dad and I are happy and always supports every single crazy decision of mine 1000%. If I want to visit the moon or move to Los Angeles, she has always been my ride or die from day one.

My biggest mentor has being my art teacher Regina Burnier. From day one, when I was 13 and wanted to paint oil, to my later addiction to drawing realistic portraits of famous people to this day, she roots for every single little accomplishment and she is so dear to my heart.

Marcia Neves, who gave me my first job in publishing when I was still in school and inspired me to follow that path for so many years. I am so grateful for your friendship and guidance throughout the years.

My dear friend Pedro Paulo Lopes, who gave me the chance to illustrate my very first book, which opened up many doors for me in the publishing and illustration business.

My dear teacher and friend Karl Gnass, who gave me my first publishing gig in Los Angeles and introduced me to my husband. I’m grateful for his teachings on how to improve my drawing skills and for being a great friend to banter with.

And my friend Ed Li, who believed in my work and gave me my first break in animation.

The biggest supporters of the business have been my husband and my dad. They help me and my mom pack the books, take pictures and help us check the quality of our products as well.

And last, but not least, the supporters of our small business. Every single purchase and compliment we get motivates us to keep going, every smile on people’s faces when they hold the books and see our love for what we do. Honestly, this makes it all worth it!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Julia Moraes, Ron Velasco, Valerio Moraes

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