Creative Lives — We follow the career of multitasking, multitalented artist and illustrator Julie Verhoeven

Posted 09 August 2018 Interview by Indi Davies

With so many different outlets for her work, it’s no wonder that Julie Verhoeven finds it tough to sum up what it is that she does, “I try to avoid answering this,” she admits. “I’m trying to embrace ‘artist’ but always feel like a bit of donut.” Having left college at 18, and not being accepted onto a BA twice, she embraced her love of fashion and drawing with evening classes and summer schools. But it was a placement with famed designer John Galliano that set her on her current path, serving as a design assistant for the first four years of her career.

Since then, Julie’s output has fluctuated between design for fashion, illustration, consultation, fine art, performance and part-time teaching at Central Saint Martins. Her fashion collaborations range from limited-edition clothing lines to print design for the likes of Louis Vuitton, Versace, MAC, Peter Jensen, Mulberry and Marc Jacobs – with whom she’s now worked on two collections. But it doesn’t stop there: Julie has also exhibited installations, drawings and performances at institutions including the ICA, the Frieze Art Fair and internationally. We wanted to get into her multitasking, multitalented mind and find out what her days look like and the path she took to get here.

Julie Verhoeven

Job Title

Illustrator and Visual Artist
Lecturer on the Fashion MA at Central Saint Martins (1997–present)

Based

London

Previous Employment

Creative Director at Gibo by Julie Verhoeven (2002–2004)
Design Assistant and Consultant, Martine Sitbon (1993–2000)
Design Assistant, John Galliano (1987–1991)

Education

Fashion BTEC Diploma, Kent Institute of Art & Design (1985–1987)

Selected Clients

Marc Jacobs, Mulberry, Versace, Uniqlo, Jaeger, H&M, Loewe, ASOS, Sky HD, MAC, Kensington Palace, Sony, Liberty, The British Library, Miller Harris, Melissa, Vans, Eastpak

Website
Social Media

Julie

Day-to-Day

How do you describe what you do? 
It’s problematic; I try to avoid answering this to be honest. I’m trying to embrace ‘artist’ but always feel like a bit of donut.

What does a typical working day look like and where does it happen?
It tends to start and end in a similar fashion, but the in-between varies immensely. I begin on emails at home, trying to eradicate them before 9am ideally. I then hit the studio, library, college or shops. Then after 6pm I end up back on the sofa or down the pub, trying to forget everything. The day is full of short, sharp bursts of frenzied output if I’m lucky, intercepted with excessive coffee breaks and people-watching.

What are the most and least enjoyable aspects of your work? 
Most enjoyable: not having to see the same faces everyday and discuss the night before. Least enjoyable: accounts.

“The day is full of short, sharp bursts of frenzied output if I’​m lucky, intercepted with excessive coffee breaks and people-watching.”

The Mystery of The Raddlesham Mumps, by Murray Lachlan Young, illustrated by Julie

The Mystery of The Raddlesham Mumps, by Murray Lachlan Young, illustrated by Julie

What's been your favourite project to work on over the past year?
Illustrating a book The Mystery of The Raddlesham Mumps, by Murray Lachlan Young. It was a good discipline for me, illustrating only in monochrome, and I revelled in the gothic. 

What are you currently working on?
Planning, planning, planning, video, video and avoiding starting a backlog of drawing.

What tools do you use most for your work? 
It’s easier to say what I don't use, which is oil paint and H pencils; and I probably spend 25% of my time on the laptop. 

When do you feel at your most productive?
My most productive time is between the hours of 4am and midday. It slowly plummets as the afternoon draws on. I’m not that masochistic to enjoy working under pressure, but it does help sometimes – as much as I don't want to admit it.

Julie’s collaborative collection with Marc Jacobs, 2017

Julie’s collaborative collection with Marc Jacobs, 2017

Julie’s collaborative collection with Marc Jacobs, 2017

Collaborative designs for Marc Jacobs

How I Got Here

What did you want to be growing up?
Something that involved dressing up and fashion.

How do you think your upbringing influenced your choice of career?
My parents both worked in design and illustration and it all just felt like the norm. There was no conceivable alternative.

How useful have your studies been to your work?
Essential. Having only completed a two-year fashion diploma, and not being accepted onto a BA twice, I pursued evening drawing classes, summer schools – predominantly and most importantly – under the tuition of Howard Tangye

After graduating, how did the first few years of your career look? 
I left college at 18, but was fortunate enough to get a summer placement with John Galliano. I spent a year making cappuccinos and running errands until they employed me, and I subsequently spent a further three years there, learning everything and more on the job.

“I believe you make your own lucky breaks, and I try and force them.”

Work for Louis Vuitton

Work for Topshop

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A still from Julie’s animation for Marc Jacobs

A still from Julie’s animation for Marc Jacobs

A still from Julie’s animation for Marc Jacobs

Do you remember getting any particularly helpful advice along the way?
My mum always said, “Don’t be a doormat.” 

Have there been moments in your work where you felt you didn’t know what you were doing, or doubted your abilities?
Yes, often, but I’ve learnt that these moments are the best, because creative change might possibility be in the offing… I love this feeling of discomfort .

Would you say you ever experienced a lucky break?
I believe you make your own lucky breaks, and I try and force them. 

What would you say is your biggest ongoing challenge? 
Practically and mentally, dealing with the excessive amount of materials and output I'm surrounded by, in order to see clearly and make work. I wish my practice was a minimal one. It’s often overwhelming and annoying, and it can slow things down. 

Toilet Attendant (2016) A performance at Frieze Art Fair, London

Detail of exhibition ‘Julie og Jimmy go dogging’, created together with Jimmy Merris, Hordaland Art Center, Bergen, 2014

Exhibition ‘Julie og Jimmy go dogging’, created together with Jimmy Merris, Hordaland Art Center, Bergen, 2014

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Words of Wisdom

If someone wanted to follow your footsteps and go into a similar line of work, what advice would you give them?
Don’t isolate yourself. Just enjoy it, because that will resonate through the work and subsequently attract [people].

Inside Julie’s studio, captured by Joseph Walsh

All images courtesy of Julie Verhoeven and CLM.

Posted 09 August 2018 Interview by Indi Davies
Collection: Creative Lives
Disciplines: Illustration, Art, Fashion
Mentions: Julie Verhoeven, John Galliano
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