Julia Mai Linnéa Maria

Artist and illustrator Julia Mai Linnéa Maria is one of the talented creatives worth watching in Reykjavík. She came to Iceland from Sweden in 2007, planning to stay around for a few months but never moved from the island. She is a part of the workspace Grýtan in Reykjavík were 20 artists, fashion designers, graphic designers, musicians and carpenters share facilities. 

Who is julia mai linnéa maria?
A 29-year-old bartender, who sometimes works enough to afford art supplies.

Has creativity always been a part of your life?
For as long as I can remember, yes. Although I have for the last two-three years put more trust and time into what I do.

So what are you working on right now?
I always have a few things in progress, I sometimes handle my work almost as I handle books, I don´t really want to finish because then I will have to leave it behind. But I´m going back to the theatre in Hellissandur next week to paint some more for example, I haven´t decided what to do yet but I trust ideas will come to me once I get started. This week I am finishing a huge flying fish on a wall in the house where I have my studio, in Grýtan.

You are an artist as well as an illustrator; from your opinion does that divide?
It does indeed. When people ask me to draw or paint for them, for whatever reason, I have to think outside of my own preferences and visions, since there is suddenly someone else to please but myself. And if I get a project that goes too far away from my own style I just don´t do it because if my heart isn´t in it then the end result will not be good at all. When I draw for myself I never really know what it is I´m getting started on and it´s surprising sometimes what comes out on those papers.

What kind of work do you appreciate the most?
That varies to be honest, depending on my mood. But naturally I feel best doing what I do for myself rather than for customers, not saying I don´t like custom work, but It´s two completely different mindsets. One is work, one is play.

Tell us about the heart you painted on the wall of the theatre in Hellissandur, how did that come about?
By accident really! I was just coming along with my friend Alexandra who had a wall to finish up there and when we arrived I felt like painting something of my own so I asked the man who runs the theatre if I could. That turned out pretty well I think! I tried spray-painting for the first time on that heart, cant wait to do that again!

Were else can your work been seen?
On the famous Internet of course. I´ve also got a hidden wall in Akureyri behind Laxdalshús and I recently painted some barflies at the bar in Kaffibarinn. When I am ready for it I might try to get a proper exhibition somewhere in Reykjavik. 

Do your illustrations belong to a place or do you place them afterwards? 
I would say afterwards, as I said earlier I never really know exactly what will come out through those pens, and nothingness is hard to place.

From what do you find inspiration?
Hard to say, everything inspires me in a way. My friend and studio partner Sif, who is the designer behind Kyrja, mentioned bird shit as inspiration in a recent interview and I’d like to agree with her on that. Beauty is all over.

Iceland is known for creativity, how do you find this scene?
Lovely, I know more creative people here than back home in Sweden and here people seem more open minded as well towards other artists. Here people rather collaborate than compete,  I like that.

Words & interview: Ditte Højgaard