Julia Gabriel is a self-taught artist and designer. She started out as a fashion major at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where she learned the basics of sewing. Soon after she transferred to Virginia Commonwealth University, where she majored in craft material studies. There she took classes in woodworking, glassblowing, ceramics and jewelry, but eventually focused her interests solely on fabrics.
After graduating, she worked as a gallery assistant at Quirk Gallery in Virginia and as a production intern at Glide Skateboards before finally moving to Houston. Now she runs her own design business.
What she does? A few years ago, Gabriel started making backpacks modeled after old, abandoned buildings.
"I love the idea of this like abandoned building that's been forgotten, is now kind of hugging your back like a baby koala, you know, like a baby animal just riding along with you wherever you go and now it gets to explore the world."
"I just found that people love their homes and they love having something that is unique to them and shows their home, so I've been playing around with different ways of doing that." That's when she decided to turn her brand into a business and began her company Web site, Me & Lu.
On the side, she's temporarily teaching art to three-to-five-year-olds at Esperanza School. She's also been working as a social media intern for Houston eco-fashion designer David Peck, who she says has helped her see that fashion does not really have to be what she experienced in New York, and also just showed her how she can do what she just wants to do.
"He is so great and has such a big heart and is so talented. I love interning for them."
What inspires her? In art school she noticed that a lot of her art was inspired by architecture. "I have always been aware of space," and part of that credit she gives to her dad, who was an architect. "When I was really young, I knew that my dad had designed our house and he put the windows where they are and he decided every single little detail, so I noticed every little detail."
If not this, then what? When she was in college, she was in a folk band that toured from New York along the East Coast through the South. She says that she loved that and she would love to still be playing in a band, and says if she wasn't doing this, she would probably get a little more serious about that.
If not here, then where? Gabriel knows she doesn't want to live in Houston the rest of her life. She thinks about the architecture in different cities...cities that have really cool, interesting architecture or really historic architecture. She would love to live in one of those cities.
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"I went to Spain one summer and loved, LOVED the architecture there and the people there. I would love to live in Spain."
What's next? "I'm really riding by the seat of my pants," she says. Gabriel could see herself continuing teaching or staying on with David Peck...but right now she's enjoying watching her business grow. She has begun to extend her business further by making other personal items for people. She recently took on a commission to make someone's home into a pillow.
"What I'm doing now seems to be working and if I can make my own business work...then awesome."
More Creatives for 2012 (In order of most recently published; click here for the full page). Rebecca French, choreographer and FrenetiCore co-founder Kiki Neumann, found object folk artist Flynn Prejean, Poster Artist JoDee Engle, dancer David Rainey, actor, artistic director and teacher Geoff Hippenstiel, painter, art instructor Jessica Janes, actress and musician Dennis Draper, actor and director Mat Johnson, novelist and tweeter Orna Feinstein, printmaker and installation artist Adriana Soto, jewelry designer Domokos Benczédi, Noise and Collage Artist Robert Boswell, Book Author, UH Prof Patrick Turk, visual artist Elizabeth Keel, playwright Bob Martin, designer Mary Lampe, short film promoter and developer Nisha Gosar, Indian classical dancer Jeremy Wells, painter George Brock, theater teacher Radu Runcanu, painter Ariane Roesch, Mixed-Media Sandie Zilker, art jewelry maker Philip Hayes, actor Patrick Palmer, painter Ana Mae Holmes, Jewelry Designer John Tyson, actor Jerry Ochoa, violinist and filmmaker Raul Gonzalez, painter, sculptor, photographer Roy Williams, DJ of medieval music Laura Burlton, photographer David Peck, fashion designer Rebecca Udden, theater director Donae Cangelosi Chramosta, vintage designer handbag dealer Paul Fredric, author John Sparagana, photographer Damon Smith, musician and visual artist Geoff Winningham, photographer Johnathon Michael Espinoza, visual artist Jaemi Blair Loeb, conductor Katya Horner, photographer Johnathan Felton, artist Nicoletta Maranos, cosplayer Carol Simmons, hair stylist Joseph "JoeP" Palmore, actor, poet Greg Carter, director Kenn McLaughlin, theater director Justin Whitney, musician Antone Pham, tattoo artist Susie Silbert, crafts Lauralee Capelo, hair designer Marisol Monasterio, flamenco dancer Carmina Bell, promoter and DJ ReShonda Tate Billingsley, writer Kiki Lucas, choreographer and director J.J. Johnston, theater director Mary Margaret Hansen, artist Richard Tallent, photographer Viswa Subbaraman, opera director Emily Sloan, sculptor and performance artist Sonja Roesch, gallery owner Enrique Carreón-Robledo, conductor Sandy Ewen, musician Camella Clements, puppeteer Wade Wilson, gallery owner Magid Salmi, photographer Carl Williams, playwright