We had the good fortune of connecting with Julia Gomes Rodrigues and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Julia, what role has risk played in your life or career?
For me, taking risks is what keeps me improving my art as well as my life. The biggest risk I took was leaving my whole life back in Brazil when I decided to move to California to study animation. This forced me to step out of my comfort zone and experience a completely different culture and lifestyle. I was able to visit new places and meet new people that would become lifelong friends and also coworkers. It also forced me to push myself and my work to learn new skills and my limits. I never would have thought that I would be where I am today. I think it’s always good to leave your country/state at least once in your life, so you can experience different perspectives and grow as a person. Since I’m under a work visa, I have no idea what to expect from my future. I might get a new visa, if not, I would have to go back to Brazil or whichever country I feel like I need to go. Maybe I will start my own studio, or have a different career, or go explore the world, or open a sanctuary for wildlife rescue? I have no idea. It’s interesting to have this kind of uncertainty and freedom, as an exciting mystery waiting to happen. But one thing I’m sure of is that I’ll keep making art wherever I am. I’m happy to be where I am right now and I’m excited to see where I’ll be in the future. I feel like more big risk-taking choices are coming.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
For my work, I’m mostly inspired by nature and animals. I grew up in Brazil, and since my mom was a biologist I was always surrounded by animals and traveling to beaches, forests and the Amazon. I was a wild and extroverted kid, I loved being outside with friends and exploring new places. But when I became a teenager I moved closer to the city and had more access to technology, so I became more introverted and quiet, and turned to drawings to express myself and my daydreaming. With my art I was able to connect with others and it was how I actually met all of my best friends. I’m still meeting people like that even today! I hope that people can get lost into my work and, once they “return” to real life, they can connect with others and nature and feel a spark to explore and live. Even though my teenage years were more introverted, it was thanks to those years that I had time to be alone with my own thoughts, and with that I could immerse myself into drawing and practice, practice and practice. I decided to pursue animation after high school, so I took an animation course at Melies and thanks to that course I got into CalArts. During my time there, it was easier to open up with more people because most of my classmates had similar interests. It was the best place to be inspired by others, and that helped me work hard on my skills and become the professional I am today. It was difficult getting to where I am because not only I had to worry about making it worth spending so much money to attend CalArts, but also because I had to find a job as soon as possible after graduation, but not any job, a job that would be willing to sponsor my visa in the future. Since I was an international student, if I didn’t find any work in 3 months I would have to leave the country and possibly never come back. The hardest thing to deal with was stress, but I came to the conclusion that there’s no point in being stressed, there’s only so much you can do and some way or another things always work out in the end. It’s better to stay chill and just be grateful for where you are right now and how far you’ve come, and just keep working on what you like, because someone will eventually be interested in that and will reach out. I learned that the easiest way to stay productive and evolving during college and working professionally is to work on things that interest you while also learning a skill you’ve never tried before. Eventually, I don’t care if people know about me or not, but if my work touches them in any way, then that is good enough for me. I’ll keep meeting more people through my artwork and hopefully that will take me to good places and maybe I can take them somewhere nice too.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
One of my favorite things in LA is the food! So I would probably take them to a bunch of restaurants, like Goldburger, Mini Kabob, Daikokuya, Salt and Straw, Gyromania, Pizzeria Mozza, Pampas Grill, some indian curries and Lou the French on the Block! Besides that, I’m more of a rain/winter girl, so I would probably take them out of the city to Big Bear Lake, Yosemite, and I always wanted to check out Big Sur too! The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I wouldn’t be where I’m today if it weren’t for my mom, dad and my aunts back in Brazil. I think they knew that I would become an artist before I realized it myself, and I’m lucky to have their support from a very young age and even when I decided to move abroad to become an animator. And I also have to thank my partner for being there in my best and lowest points, and for encouraging me in whichever path I choose.