Creator Spotlight with Oil Painter and Writer Julia Haw

This week we’d like to introduce you to oil painter and writer Julia Haw. Follow her on Instagram and also be sure to check out some of her beautiful paintings at the end of our spotlight.

What was the inspiration behind becoming a creator?

My inspiration lies in the absolute wildness of life. I am deeply inspired by what it means to be human. My work, in several specific variations, has always been a way to express the pain, nuance and ecstasy of the human condition, and in this sense foster connection to others through broader conversation leading out from the work. My aim is to allow others to see they can exist quite freely, and honor what truly excites them in life.

My North Star is Liberation.

What do you enjoy most about the creative process?

That I have built a life where I can live radically authentic and free. The thread that runs through all my successes is honoring my intuitive process – for example, I have rare visions that strike me, particularly during meditation. Some of these “downloads” are paintings. I simply honor the “download” and carry it out. As long as I’m honoring my duty in this lifetime, abundance comes to me. The formula is simple, but let me tell you — even I “forget” this at times. With regard to the overall creative process, I am simply a conduit to relay messages, no matter the medium – the main message being, through communion and consciousness we can liberate ourselves from suffering.

Can you talk through your creative process?

I actually taught a 3-day course at the Art Students League in NYC on how to begin, carry through, and complete a body of work as an artist. So I’ve thought A LOT about this very topic.

Take my current series as an example of my methodology: Currently I’m working on a series titled “Feast.” This series explores the tangible (without) and intangible feast (within) the senses in Cambodia. Think smoke in the air, spirit houses, piles of raw meat, inky black skies, romance, sorrow and tarot card swords.

So I have the idea, and in order to carry out this vision, I keep my ideas compiled neatly in a folder on my computer desktop. I view myself as a “hunter-gatherer.” The ideas are formulated over the course of months. I take all my own reference pictures, as I’m inspired. Some ideas make the cut, while other weaker ideas are tossed in the trash. There is a hierarchy of size too. The more important messages will be large paintings, and the ancillary or supporting messages will be smaller in scale. This process reduces overwhelm by allowing me the grace to simply deal with what’s in front of me at any given time.

How long does your creative process take?

When I have 8-15 works, I have a complete body of work and am ready to exhibit. This particular series won’t exhibit for about two years, as each piece can take months to complete.

Does everything you produce make money?

Not everything I make sells, but a majority of it does. This is due to the fact that we all see the world so vastly different. What strikes one person’s heart may not even light a candle in another’s. My buyers gravitate energetically toward certain works. I am the first to say, “ONLY buy a work that you feel a pull toward. If it’s not now, we can talk in the future as I create more works.” I never, ever, ever want a buyer to feel pressured to purchase something – this is a lack mindset produced by the seller.

Some of my buyers have expressed that they view my pieces as family heirlooms, to be inherited by their children. This gives me a PROFOUND sense of inner joy. My life’s work is being accomplished right now.

My work continues to live with others. When it’s still with me, it’s no good. It’s not being expressed in the world any longer. So, in addition to the general reverence and need for money and foundational support in my life, emotionally I am nourished when works are placed in homes and collections around the world. It keeps me with purpose.

When I complete a painting, or a body of work, the vision has been produced and exhausted by me. Then, it’s time to carry on. That is my duty in this lifetime.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about your line of work?

Many like to romanticize the life of an artist. They see a “free” existence that looks amazing — travel, art, cool people, galleries, interviews, shows, fun pictures, etc. It’s no different than any other existence — in order to be any good, you often spend THOUSANDS of hours in complete solitude. We’re all trying to figure it out. With success comes great responsibility.

I take NONE of this for granted because I have worked extremely hard for years to create this life for myself. Still, I know I’m capable of more, so I’m in a process of “doubling down” in my current life here in Siem Reap. I’m currently focused on my painting, maintaining my Youtube Channel, assisting with the NGO Colors of Cambodia, and building my TikTok presence.

When did you first become aware of copyright, and why?

As an artist, copyright is always in the back of your mind. To protect myself, I created a legally binding document that buyers “sign” simply in submitting their full payment to me for a painting. The document states that I retain full copyright. Every invoice my buyers receive contains all copyright info in fine writing on the bottom.

I used to manage an extremely wealthy private art collection. It was there I learned how to meticulously keep records of my work, and to protect it by copyrighting it. I protect myself in this way too. I know the original price, sale price, buyer, buyers address, other particulars etc. I do this because I believe in the longevity of my work and want to protect myself completely, as well as build a legacy with my work. The organization takes a ton of work on the front end, but makes things infinitely easier over time.

What is the best piece of advice that you would give other creators in your field about copyright and how to protect themselves?

I think we’d like to give others the benefit of the doubt, thinking they wouldn’t steal our work. But I’ve seen it happen to my artist friends many times. I’ve also seen many of the artists feel quite helpless when they’re unsure what to do. My best piece of advice to any artist is to find a system that works for you that will protect you from any issues with your current buyers, but also to have a plan of action if someone steals your work and presents it as their own. I also recommend registering your work with the U.S. Copyright Office so you have recourse should it ever be infringed.

Julia’s Artwork

The Middle Path202312x16in.Oil on Cotton Paper
Meat Lady or Neang Saj2022-2339.25×27.5in. Oil on Canvas 
The Outhouse 202312x16in. Oil on Cotton Paper
Things Change202312x16in. Oil on Cotton Paper
Bouquet for Mom202312x16in.Oil on Cotton Paper

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