Interview: Julia Sederholm
Luca Curci talks with Julia Sederholm during CONTEMPORARY VENICE 2021 – THE SECRET GARDEN, at Misericordia Archives.
Julia Sederholm, born in 1996, is a visual artist and graphic designer from Finland. With a bachelor’s degree in graphic design, she has during the past years been focusing mostly on her visual art practice, which has led to a minimalistic and abstract visual language in her painting, which is the medium she currently uses. Julia has during the past years taken part in art exhibitions both in Finland and Germany, where she was studying for a few years at two different art/design schools. Julia had her first solo exhibition at a small art gallery in Berlin in 2018. One of the most recent exhibitions took place at International Contemporary Art Fair Monaco 2021. In 2022 she will have her second solo exhibition, in Helsinki, Finland. Julia’s work is usually both based on research as well as on spontaneous ideas. She has been featured in Osso Magazine (IT) twice during the past year and a half.
Luca Curci – What are you currently working on?
Julia Sederholm – The current main project I’m working on right now is a solo art exhibition to be held in Papu Galleria, in Helsinki, Finland, from August 2022. It’s a collection of acrylic paintings in an abstract, minimalistic style, a visual expression that my art has developed itself into during the past year. The visual expression I use in my painting is evolving quickly, so it’s going to be interesting to see what I’ve created at the end of this project. This is my second solo exhibition but I feel much more confident in my creating now. I went a few steps deeper with this project as well I feel.
LC – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
JS – Looking at my background, I can see that I’m privileged in several ways. But my roots have also made me realise the value of freedom and of pursuing something that truly brings one joy, of pursuing what brings honest fulfilment in life. This has become great fuel for what I do. From what I’ve experienced, without this feeling of inner peace with my direction, I won’t feel very alive. A sense of fulfilment for the soul is also what will always be worth the most to me when it comes to choosing a direction in life. A few years ago I started studying graphic design and I completed a bachelor’s degree in this field. Quickly, though, into my studies I realised that this wasn’t bringing me the same fulfilment or sense of freedom that I, partly subconsciously at this point, was looking for, even though art and graphic design do are connected. When I make art I honestly feel like me. When I did the graphic design things, it felt more forced, it felt like it was just the surface of something much greater which I needed to dive into. But I understand each step has its purpose and value. The wish to feel at peace with what I do and to feel free but also the wish to have the opportunity to make a statement of my choice through what I create, has led me onto the path as a visual artist that I’m on now.
LC – Do visitors’ suggestions enrich yourself and your art?
JS – I don’t think someone else’s opinion about my work would ever influence what I make in any significant way. I trust my abilities, my own eye and intuition. If I feel content with what I made this is enough. But of course, it’s always interesting to hear a viewer’s experience about my art and their thoughts about it. Having a dialogue about the artwork may bring new perspectives, thoughts and ideas for both parts I think. Enriching, yes. But it’s tricky because showing the artwork feels like showing only the surface of a great process which it actually was to reach the artwork seen on the wall. For the viewer to somehow come closer to the artwork and me as an artist, they would have to have a much longer talk with me, and I’m not even sure it would be possible to put it all into words. Some experiences and motivations can’t be explained I think. I think it’s also good to remember that maybe the artwork won’t be perceived by an outside eye in the same way which I perceive it but that this is okay.
LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
JS – If we talk about the professional side of creating art and where this artistry is taking the artist, I think this is mostly up to the artist herself or himself. Both the effort one is putting into the practice and the marketing of oneself. It’s also up to one’s personal goals with one’s artistry. I can’t say that anything regarding art is easy, but I think how easy or effortless it feels, in the end, is partly up to the attitude of the creator. How much you will let a feeling of seriousness affect your work and yourself. I take me creating seriously, and at times it has felt challenging and scary to say the least, but the moment I’m creating I’m trying to put myself in a calm, confident and aligned position. I’ve also learned to listen to myself more when it actually feels “right” for me to create. This is making the process easier, more effortless kind of. I think it’s important, thinking about somehow “making it”, in whichever way to “make it” means for you, in a competitive market, to be confident in one’s own visual expression, to not force something “expected” but to dive into an expression one genuinely finds pleasing and interesting. A visual expression and voice one truly feels called to use rather than what one maybe thinks one “should” be making. If it feels right for you, it will most likely look “right” as well. If we talk about succeeding as an artist, I think one first needs to define what this success means to oneself. I think this itself is an important step. Without any clear direction, you won’t be pushing yourself further. I’ve also learned that there isn’t one right answer to anything within this field. In my opinion, you need to be able to make up your own rules or to break rules. You need to trust that your path may not follow any other’s but that it will be the right one for you if it feels right. Doing things a bit differently may feel challenging, but I think you become more confident with your actions the further you walk and the braver your actions become.
LC – What do you think about the concept of this festival? In which way did it inspire you?
JS – I appreciate the concept of the festival and to have taken part in it. It’s great that artists get an opportunity to show their work and to meet other creators as well. To get an opportunity to share and connect and of course for visitors to see works from many artists in one place. The festival gives life to the city as well and it creates valuable meetings between people.
LC – What is the message linked to the artwork you have shown in this exhibition? How is it connected to the theme of the entire festival?
JS – My artwork Lean On Me – My Guardian Angel was developed from the thought of the feeling of inner guidance at the moment. The belief that there are invisible beings around us, let’s say angels or the future selves, guiding us and making us feel safe through each moment at a time on this journey. It’s about letting the moment carry you. To feel safe enough to be carried further in a calm, blissful, even ecstatic way. Lean On Me – My Guardian Angel is a statement about freedom and trust in life. The faith in one’s own intuition. This theme of inner safety and how this is connected to one’s outer reality is connected to the theme of the festival, Future Landscapes, which is associated with a sense of freedom and infinite extension. This is what sparked the idea for my artwork in the first place and what I wish to portray. To feel infinite somehow, or infinite possibilities, because each moment is leading further and the actions are honest. And to feel free because the mind isn’t limiting the actions one wishes to take. One just follows honest, sovereign guidance. My artwork also portraits a connection between the body and the soul. The soul gives directions for action.
LC – What is the most challenging part about creating your artworks?
JS – Every stage of the process has its own challenges, but to finish the sketches right before I start to paint may be one of the biggest ones. I sketch before I paint and making the final sketch which I find to be perfect to me is challenging. I’d also say to getting my first sketches on paper is a challenge in its own way. It’s so raw, I have to draw without logic and mind, just with feeling and intuition.
LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform?
JS – It’s a needed platform I’d say. It has value in several ways, both for emerging artists but also for more established artists, to show work, to get visibility and a chance to introduce oneself to an audience.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
JS – Yes for sure. The help the artist gets with promotion, organisation and practicalities is very valuable. It’s an opportunity to meet new people in the same field as oneself as well. As at least I am working a lot in my own bubble with my art, it’s refreshing to meet people in a context like Contemporary Venice. I also believe working with ITSLIQUID GROUP may be planting seeds for future opportunities.