Walking into Julie Pointer's home was like walking into a comforting world of warm. As we stepped off the street over fallen chestnuts and towards a huge, old subdivided mansion, we knew it would be good. Stepping inside, it was as if the walls and doorways and hanging potted plants were as familiar as family, and the previously unseen furnishings instantly became a comfort to be near. There was a lingering air of nurture and of familiarity in a space that had been so beautifully and thoughtfully made. A tiny but practical kitchen greeted us at the doorway and beyond lay a small dining table, set with a friendly reception of cheese, fruit and wine. The bathroom at the end of the hall was bursting with natural light and detailed with linens and the scent of woody, forested soaps. There was a bed right by the fireplace that nestled into a natural lit bay windowed room. Corners were dotted with reclaimed wood and leather, a copper watering can and many indoor plants, and sun hats along side Julie's collaged artwork that hung modestly on the walls.
It's no wonder that her home has been so beautifully curated. Julie is a visual artist, writer, stylist and is also the director of communities for Kinfolk Magazine. Over the past few years, Julie has been most well known for her role of designing and coordinating dinner gatherings and events for Kinfolk. Upon meeting Julie, I so desperately wanted to dive in and snuggle. I resisted, in fear of being asked to leave. But it is like that. Julie exudes a sense of calm and comfort that is so rare to be near. She has a very natural, very keen eye for surrounding herself in simple beauty and bears a gift of genuine hospitality. In the days that followed our meeting, I was so fortunate to attend one of the dinners that Julie had organised and styled. Like her home, the evening was an inviting space full of welcome and calm. People gathered around a long table, shared a hearty meal and everything was lovely. I made sure that I snuggled. Into the dinner at least. To soak up all that Julie had created and to make the most of that comforting world of warm.
What projects are you currently working on?
The project that I’m most excited about currently is a series of collages that I’m working on for a solo show in December. It’s been years since I consistently made time for myself to make work like this, and it’s been so freeing and liberating to just be sitting down and making again. I also just transitioned into working on a full-time freelance basis, which means I’m mostly just having fun reaching out to folks that I’ve been itching to collaborate with for a while now.
Where do you draw your creative inspiration from?
Oh all sorts of places; I think my sources shift a little bit every day! I’m always reading something new, but lately I’ve been very inspired by Rebecca Solnit’s writings. I’m constantly moved and re-energized by nature, and travel always gets me thinking about things in a new and different way. When I’m feeling visually un-stimulated, I start tearing through old books and magazines around the house, or there’s a few different blogs/tumblrs I turn to time and time again. Recently I can’t stop looking at the clothing brand Apiece Apart’s tumblr called Notes from Apart. I try not to spend too much time getting sucked into the black hole that is the internet, however. It is a vortex!
Why a visual artist/writer/curator?
All my life I’ve been actively trying to make order from chaos, whether that’s through arranging a room, working with words, making a collage, or bringing friends together around a table. I suppose I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I’ve recognized that these are the things I MUST be doing. The consistent threads that shine through in my life again and again are those that have supported these pursuits, and have pushed me towards this kind of multifaceted creative calling since it’s what comes most naturally to me. In an effort to be my “ME-est me” I am drawing on those skills that seem to underlie all that I do, and ultimately bring me the most joy.
Do you listen to music while you work? If so, would you be so kind to share some of your favourite artists?
I usually listen to music while I’m working, otherwise I find myself in a silent house, which can sometimes be a bit much. Favorites I always come back to are Sun Kil Moon, Nick Drake, Efterklang, Sufjan Stevens, Grouper, J. Tillman…they all feel like old friends. Lately I’ve also been loving Sylvan Esso, Night Beds, Alela Diane and pianist Tsegue-Maryam Guebrou.
Do you have a morning ritual?
I’m definitely a creature of habit! I love my mornings and I always try to make the most of them. Currently my morning routine looks like either a brisk walk/run with a friend or some Pilates, shower, then a green smoothie and coffee while I read and write for a bit before I start the day. Setting aside some moments to clear my head in the morning definitely helps keep me sane and motivated throughout the day.
What's your idea of a perfect Friday night?
My ideal Friday night looks like having a couple friends over for dinner, and now that it’s fall-time, cozying up over dessert and a fire. My bed is right in front of my fireplace, so most of my dinner parties with friends end up with all of us on the bed watching a movie or just chatting and dreaming about projects for the future. In the summer it’s pretty much the same scenario, except we always sit on my summer porch (we call it the “nook”) drinking rosé late into the night.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Recently I’ve been dreaming about Morocco, the Greek Islands and Formentera (a small island off Spain). Can you tell I’m craving the sun!? The colors, the textures, the architecture, and the nearby sea of these locales are all beckoning to me. The pace of island life has always intrigued me, and I’m a bit of a Luddite at heart, so the prospect of escaping the complexity of day-to-day busyness is pretty attractive to me.
Best piece of advice you've ever given or been given?
A passage (and book, for that matter) that I return to again and again is from Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet. He writes, “Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”
What's for dinner?
In fall all I ever want to eat are hearty root vegetables, leafy greens and variations of squash. Lately I’ve been making a frittata with delicata squash, brussel sprouts and leeks, so perhaps I’ll whip up one of those for dinner.
The best part about being a creative?
I love the variety that every day brings. One day I’m writing an article, the next I’m conceptualizing an idea for a photoshoot, and later in the week I’ll be on location styling for a project. I’ve always thrived on having an interdisciplinary mix of things in my day-to-day, and the creative life certainly allows for that. Most of the time I feel like a bit of a wild animal, and the freedom of this lifestyle helps alleviate that.
The worst part?
I think it can be very challenging to maintain creative confidence on a consistent basis. My belief in myself can fluctuate wildly even within the course of a day. I’m discovering that working for yourself means needing to be your own biggest cheerleader, because no one else is going to get out there to champion your cause on your behalf; having self-doubt can be a real barrier to this!
Day or night?
I’m definitely a day person—pathetic as a night person. I’ve always been an early riser, so in order to balance that out I hit the hay pretty early on.
Old or new?
Old made new! I love the challenge of taking something old and refreshing it to make something updated and usable.
City or Country?
City currently but I’m made for the country. Just waiting for the day I can move outside the city to a quieter existence with big empty spaces, lots of animals, and a body of water nearby.
Coffee or Tea? Coffee usually wins out.
What do you enjoy most about living in Portland, OR?
I love that Portland is a very accessible city; it’s not a fast-paced, stressful urban center where everything feels difficult like it does in some US cities. I live close to downtown, but my neighborhood is removed enough that it is quiet, safe, and I can walk to nearly anything I need. We have access to incredible food here—both restaurants and really good produce from all the surrounding farms. We also have amazing access to nature and the outdoors; it’s wonderful to be able to drive for 30 minutes and to be transported to pretty rugged and relatively untouched spaces. It’s a nice balance between the pulse of urban culture and the calm of a place where you can achieve high quality of life at a somewhat low threshold. I also have an amazing community of wonderfully talented friends who keep me constantly inspired and on my toes!
Thoughts for the future:
To echo Rilke, I feel that the future holds a lot of questions for me right now, but I’m trying to live them out instead of seeking to answer them all at once. I’m hoping this year ahead will bring more travel, lots of sun, new adventures and most importantly, fresh learning experiences and meaningful relationships.