Artist Julia Schmitt’s darling pen-on-paper drawings capture the character of Melbourne and the quirkiness of the city’s inner north through a series of illustrations of both iconic vistas and everyday streetscapes.
Schmitt’s new show Edifice is a collection that feels at once modern but also sweetly reminiscent. It aims to convey a sense of place and to explore the beating heart behind the façades. By documenting the face of the city, Schmitt has encapsulated the personality not only of Melbourne and its surrounds but also that of the dwellers who call the city home.
So, before Edifice opens at Off the Kerb later this month, let’s get to know Julia Schmitt:
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
I moved to Melbourne from Perth two years ago to study, and I really started to develop my drawing style and subject matter here. I’m always overwhelmed by how open to artistic ideas people in this city are, and that’s a really nice environment to create things in.
What made you realise you wanted to become an artist?
I don’t think it’s happened yet. I’m still a bit hesitant about calling myself an artist since I’m still just starting out. I’ll let others decide if that term suits me.
How would you describe your art?
I like to draw shop fronts and try to imagine and recreate what I like about the scene going on in them. It may be a certain kind of light or a particular set of objects and people that just worked well as a composition.
I think I just really enjoy doing this and hopefully, I’ve created a body of work people connect with.
Tell us about ‘Edifice’.
‘Edifice’ is my first solo show, and it’s a big milestone for me. I’ve put together a lot of the drawings I’ve finished over the past year, so a lot of time has gone into the works.
I’m very excited to see how it goes. Everything’s a bit of an unknown at the moment with my drawings and where they’ll take me.
Do you have a favourite piece from the collection?
Definitely. ‘The Artist’s Garden’ piece feels like summer, and I love that.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Everywhere! I’ll usually just see things, take a photo, and draw it later.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
I’m not sure exactly, but it most likely came from my mum.
What does the future hold? Where do you see yourself in five years?
That’s a very good question, and I don’t know yet.
I’d like to live in lots of different places and collect memories of them through drawing the architecture and street scenes that I come across.
What are you working on now, and what’s up next?
I’m just slowly working through my backlog of photos on my phone. More Melbourne buildings to come, for certain.
I have another solo exhibition in the works after Off the Kerb, but this one will definitely be the most memorable and significant for me. If anyone has ideas of places they’d like seen drawn I’m very much open to suggestions.
Favourite childhood read, or the last book you read:
I’m currently reading ‘A Little Life’ by Hanya Yanagihara. It’s making me want to move to New York, despite the fact that I’m not very street smart and I’d probably get mugged.
Favourite place, city, or spot:
Right here, at the moment.
The thing you’re most proud of:
Doing my Masters in Audiology, and the whole Melbourne experience that has entailed.
A must watch (TV/film/video), read (book/essay/website), or listen (podcast/album/song):
The movie ‘Submarine’ directed by Richard Ayoade. It’s the perfect mix of quirky, funny and a little bit sad.
Julia Schmitt’s upcoming solo show Edifice opens at Off the Kerb Gallery on Friday, August 18, from 6 ‘till 9 pm. The show will run from August 17 through 31.
Off the Kerb is located at 66B Johnston Street, Collingwood. The gallery is open from 12:30 pm to 6 pm Thursday — Friday and 12 pm to 5 pm on Saturday & Sunday. You can find more information about the gallery at their website.
You can find and follow Julia Schmitt on Instagram.