Artist & watch lover
Julie, tell us about yourself. Where are you from and what is your background?
I am a visual artist living and working in Toronto, Canada. I’ve drawn for as long as I can remember and I have a compulsion to make things.
How and when did you start drawing watches?
I dipped into watches about two years ago, serendipitously. It’s a mystery what exactly drew me in! I had been looking for a new subject to study. As a design and detail enthusiast, I thought watches would be an interesting world to explore.
Are you focused on a certain type of watches? What are your favourite ones? Are you working more on customers’ requests or more according to your inspiration?
I’ll draw any watch that piques my curiosity. Most of the watches in the timepiece collection have been vintage. A vintage watch is a pretty magical thing full of soul and character. I’m not sure I could pick a favourite, each one offers unique details and challenges. Much of the work has been commissioned but there have been a handful of independent pieces, too.
Could you describe the main steps from the beginning of a new project until its final touch?
Every drawing starts with heaps of reading and research. For me, each watch is a portal into a world yet to be discovered and it’s at this stage where I collect details on a timepiece’s history, narrative and context. If I am working on a commissioned piece, I’ll glean significant details from the client. I let it all steep for a little while and eventually these details distill into a few different ideas for the drawing. Next I start sketching the ideas, working out the best design and approach for the piece. From there I draw a fine outline of the frame of the watch and then I get to rendering. This is the longest stage and requires plenty of music, podcasts and audiobooks!
You have a particular technique, could you explain more about it? Indeed, based on the pictures we have seen, it seems that you start with something very raw/blur to end up with a perfectly detailed watch through refinement steps?
I tend to work light to dark, building and refining slowly. Every drawing is created with layers and layers of graphite. If you catch the drawing in the right light, you’ll see a shimmer in certain areas and this is where the graphite has been layered the most.
How many hours do you spend on each piece? What are the main difficulties? Are you working on different projects at a time, swapping from a project to another or do you go through a unique process from the beginning to the end?
Each timepiece takes me approximately 150-200 hours. If I am working on a timepiece I’ve never worked on, I am learning to draw new details and textures. I often work on a few drawings at a time, jumping back and forth depending on timelines.
Do you plan to publish all these timepiece drawings?
I love books and I’ve got a few different ideas for publishing projects that feature timepiece drawings… it’s just a matter of finding more time.
Is there a timepiece that would be extremely challenging to draw? Maybe which you thought about but final gave up?
It would be any timepiece with very fine, complicated details. I have yet to take on a Navitimer or a Richard Mille but I’d say those are at the top of the list in terms of most challenging.
Any particular anecdote with your drawing projects?
Sometimes I’m commissioned to work on a timepiece that I don’t particular love at the outset. After I spend 150+ hours with a watch, something magical happens – I’ll start to see the beauty in its unique features and will eventually come around to appreciating it for what it is and its place in the watch world.
What are your other projects unrelated to watches?
At the moment I am focusing on the timepiece collection but I’ve gotten up to a broad range of freelance work. I’ll draw or paint just about anything!
How do you spend your free time? Do you always think about new drawing ideas?
Outside is my favourite place, so much of my free time is spent there whether it’s hitting a running trail or checking out a fun spot in the city. I usually wake up slightly annoyed that I only have 24h in a day to work with; there are just too many ideas and projects to get to! Give me a good book, album or tennis match any day!
Last question: where and how would you spend your next 24h if you had a teleporter?
Oh, tricky question! There are so many places I would visit. It’s a grey time of year so I think I’d choose to spend the next 24h on a sailboat with friends floating on turquoise waters in some impossibly beautiful corner of the world. After that it’d be a studio tour visiting some of my favourite artists throughout history.