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Part 1 of our interview with Eir NYC Friend and Artist, Velia De Iuliis

We recently had a chance to sit down with our friend Velia and discuss her career, her interests and learn more about what makes her tick.  We home you enjoy part 1 of our 3 part interview.Eir NYC: Have you always wanted to be an artist? At what age did you know you wanted to pursue art as a career path?

Velia: No, I haven’t always wanted to be an artist. In fact, I kinda fell into it - almost like it chose me rather than me choosing it. I was inherently a creative kid; continuously making things whether painting, collaging or sewing. Anything I could do to keep my hands busy. But I was equally fascinated by the natural sciences. So when it came to choosing a university, I wanted to go to a liberal arts college where I could focus on both art and science. However, I wasn’t impressed by the art programs in a lot of those schools and ended up going to art school to study illustration. I didn’t necessarily want to be an illustrator, but I loved the coursework and felt like that was a good place to gain technical skills. Post undergrad, I began painting murals and creating my own work, realizing that through my studio practice, I could still have a foot in the science world. By merging both interests together, I'd educate my audience and feed my own curiosity for the natural environment.

What's your favorite non-painting activity?

I love to be in the ocean, where I enjoy swimming and surfing. That’s a huge, huge huge part of my life. For that reason, I was drawn to working with Eir NYC. I love their Surf Mud Pro because it really stays on when I’m in the water which is vital to protecting the skin. But it’s also 100% reef safe so I can feel good that the oceans are protected while I’m protecting my skin. I love to box when my arms are healthy, but I have not been able to do that for a while. And I love cycling. Exercise in general has been really good for my mental health. And travel, when we’re back and allowed to do so.

How do you choose your subject matter? Do you plan ahead or make a sketch before you start painting?

I do quite a lot of research; and much of it depends on the piece. If it’s a commission, there might be a specific location or subject matter that I need to consider. If it’s for a client where there are no specific guidelines, I have more creative freedom. I like to do a lot of preliminary research regarding what kind of species will be incorporated into a piece before I start painting. But in terms of composition and layout, it’s generally a very guttural approach. I don’t map out my paintings for the most part, I just kind of go. I do a charcoal sketch directly onto the canvas, of free flowing lines and shapes that I can then push and pull to mold into a gestural jumping off point for the piece. I love the process of painting where discovery plays a huge part. If I have the whole piece planned out, then it becomes more executionary as opposed to a journey of discovery within the work.

Has it always been about paint or have you worked in other mediums as well?

No, actually when I first went to art school at California College of the Arts, I chose furniture design as my major. There I could design and build my own furniture which I absolutely loved. Working with wood is meditative and I became super attached to everything I made because it was extremely labor intensive. For this reason, I ended up changing majors to illustration in sophomore year. Painting felt like a medium that was a bit more practical. I also liked that I could apply it to many different materials, both two dimensional as well as three dimensional.

Are there specific colors or color schemes that you are always drawn to?

I have fallen in love with the color black. I wouldn’t say I’m a dark person. But from a very young age, I had a deep fascination with the works of Caravaggio and Flemish still-lifes, which I think are extraordinary. What those artists accomplished is a richness and a depth in the warm and cool tones of their blacks. The diversity and color range in black alone can be the ultimate aid for the other colors in one’s palette. I think some people shy away from black.  I often have clients who associate black with darkness and its my job to explain to them that by adding black around your yellows, whites, greens, etc; whatever palette you’re using, you’re actually bringing out all the light, resonance and vibrations of the colors with is a big asset.  In fact the pieces feel a lot brighter than if you were to have a lighter color background and that’s been kind of a fun discovery for me.

What was it like the first time that you sold a painting?

The first time I sold a painting I think it was… shocking actually! Yep, that’s the right word. Very humbling and surprising that someone, would pay money to have my work in their house. I still think I have somewhat of a feeling of responsibility when I create a piece of work. The beauty of being an artist is that you get to experience the life of the painting beyond your studio. Part of the joy is that I get to see my pieces in people’s homes; how they decorate around it, or where they place it. The paintings are a part of my story for sure, but they definitely live on beyond me, and that has been a very humbling experience. But yes, it was shocking and it made me think “Is this possible? Can I continue to do this? Is this something that could be a career for me?” I was in denial for a very long time because my logical head said “A painting career’s not the smart way to go.” But as fate would have it, that first sell was definitely a pivotable moment.


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