Julia Makivic is a Boston-based artist and web designer. She creates web-based interactive narratives that aim to fully immerse readers in the story. Julia also has a background in illustration and have experimented with data art, printmaking and 3D modeling. You can view more of her work here.
Interview conducted by: Tiffany Chan
Q: What is your story? How did you fall in love with your current field of work/study?
I currently work as a web designer, however I make web-based interactive narratives in my spare time. I like how using the web as a narrative platform allows me to make stories with branching paths and multiple outcomes. The Media Arts and Sciences major at Wellesley exposed me to programming and how new technologies can be used to make art. At first, I struggled with programming quite a bit. I had always considered myself to be a creative person and enjoyed illustrating comics using traditional media. I never thought that I could be good at something so technical. However, I soon realized that programming and code can be used to make whatever you would like with it and that it could be a very powerful artistic tool. Since then, I’ve made projects using 3D printers, illustrations generated by data and many web projects. I really like combining comics, illustrations, and web development.
I have a full-time corporate job as a web designer, but I also freelance and come up with my own projects in my spare time. My corporate job provides the bread and butter and keeps me up to date with the latest technologies in the field, but my freelance and personal projects allow for more creative freedom.
Q: What was your professional path like? How did you get to this job?
I did an internship for a small startup called Rosie app (with many other Wellesley folks) and put the work that I did during that internship into my portfolio. In addition to this I did a lot of side projects ranging from graphic design for a veterinarian to a few interactive narratives I did for my senior thesis. Ultimately, a recruiter reached out to me on LinkedIn. The company that I work for liked that I had experience with a variety of creative and technical projects. They said that finding someone who had a strong technical and creative background was very difficult.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you faced at your job?
The biggest challenges I face at my corporate job are repetition and not having enough time to experiment. I work as a web designer for the marketing team, therefore our goal is to sell as much computer backup as we can. Stakeholders would rather you design something that they have seen before, that is similar to other styles in the industry and that they know will work rather than a new, unique design that might not convert as quickly.
Challenges that I face for my freelance/creative work mostly involve time management. When I come home from work, the last thing I want to do is to stare at a screen again. Therefore, it takes a bit more motivation to do anything that involves programming. However, I find that it has allowed me to work on my more traditional, illustrative stuff.
Q: What are the greatest rewards of your job?
The greatest rewards from my corporate job usually involve adding unique visual tweaks to an otherwise “safe” design. I just recently added some animation effects to our FAQ section and to one of or Free Trial forms. I was glad that I could add a minor flourish to these areas of the site.
Q: What is one (or two) things you would like the general public to know about your field of study/work or art history in general?
I would just like the public to know that programming can be really creative and that there are a lot of overlaps between programming and art. For example, both involve problem solving. For programming, you need to think of the best, most efficient and modular way to make the program do something. For art, you have to consider all of the elements that will best accomplish what you are trying to express.
Q: What advice would you give to someone just starting in the field?
I would tell them to not hesitate and to just start making stuff as soon as possible. It doesn’t matter whether it’s good or not, just start coding small programs, designing posters for made up events etc. You just need to prove that you can make something if you want to work in any art or design field. Also, keep a record of things that inspire you. It will influence your style and help to differentiate you from other designers.
Q: What is one contentious issue in the art world that you are very passionate about?
I spend a lot of time thinking about how creative work is often treated as free and easy labor. The prevailing attitude is that artists love making art, they do it on their own volition, therefore they do not need to be paid for their work because they do it out of passion and not for financial gain. Also, creative labor is not viewed as necessary or as essential as other forms of labor. There is also this belief that the creation of art is easy, that someone is just born with talent and that creativity flows out of them. Many people aren’t aware of the lengthy decision process involved in making a work of art, how much trial and error is involved in making each piece, and the years of practice you need in order to achieve a certain skill level.
Q: As you probably know, the new proposed federal budget eliminates funding for the National Endowment for the Arts as well as many other cultural/educational organizations. If you had to address the general public, why is arts/art history education/work important for the average American?
In my experience the most important thing that my artistic training has taught me has been to appreciate the beauty in everyday things. Before I got into all of the tech stuff, I did a lot of drawing and illustration. In order to get good at drawing you have to observe the world around you – people, textures and surfaces, the way light reflects off of certain objects, etc. It taught me to appreciate the beauty in small mundane details. Whenever I walk home from work, I like to pause and observe the details on buildings, different types of plants and all of the people walking around. I find that it really improves my mood and it has been quite beneficial to my mental health.
Q: Can you recommend a wine (any alcohol/cocktail) and cheese (any drunk food) to us?
Hmmm . . . I am not a huge drinker but I would recommend Medovacha – it’s Serbian plum whiskey mixed with honey. As far as cheese goes I’m a huge fan of brie and cheddar. As for drunk food, burgers and pancakes.