Artist In Residence: Julia Rio

Creative artist and DJ Julia Riordan, better known as Julia Rio, is this month’s Artist in Residence at the Nordic Light Hotel. Until the 9th of May she’ll be painting and creating knitting intsallations in the lobby and anyone who wants to can stop by and take a look at her work. To finish off her time at the hotel she’ll be having a Vernissage with female artists, DJs and musicians. Radar visited her for a short chat.

How did you get into art?
– I’ve always been into art. Ever since I was a young girl I’ve wanted to do something creative, for example, I studied music in High School. Even though music is not what I’m doing today it’s within the creative field. But I would never have seen myself as a painter although I’ve always been into craftwork.

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How did your art develop to what it is today?
– It was almost two years ago since I started doing what’s more related to what I’m doing today. I studied in an intense knitting class in Brighton where I learned how to knit using a machine. It was so cool to be in such a creative environment, I had never experienced anything like it.

You started out with knitting, how did you get into painting?
– When I got back from London I started knitting hats at first but I felt kind of limited, after a while it simply got boring you know? I wanted to broader my expertise and explore other areas. Painting is something I’ve always wanted to do so when Femtastic took over the club Marie Laveau they asked if I wanted to help them repaint it. I’ve always had visions and made drafts of  potential paintings but never tried doing until then. After that I knew that I wanted to paint my own walls.

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How was the transition from knitting to painting?
– Painting and knitting are different in some ways but also very similar in others. I try to stay true to my own signature style and focus a lot on patterns. When I paint, my thought process is just the same as when I’m knitting. Focus on shapes and patterns. I really love the feeling of visions and ideas coming to life on a paper or a wall, and the feedback has been just amazing. But a lot of people have also been telling me to stick to knitting since it’s my “niche” but why close yourself off like that? I like trying new things.

What led you to become this month’s Artist In Residence at the Nordic Light Hotel?
– They just called me out of the blue and asked if I wanted to do it. I was really shocked and super happy. It turned out that it was a childhood friend of mine that had asked them to consider me without me knowing about it haha. They needed someone, considered my work and called. The next thing I knew I was standing outside of the hotel with my bags packed ready to move in!

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What’s it like?
– It’s a weird feeling. Living in a hotel in the city you usually live in is not something you do everyday. But it’s super comfortable to wake up and go to sleep at the place you work. You save a lot of time! You manage to keep your focus in a different way than when you’re constantly disturbed by obstacles that exist in everyday life. BUT it’s really important to remember that I have to get out of here at times. It’s easy to get too comfortable and too cooped up in the same place. But I love the feeling of being able to show people what I’ve created and give them the opportunity to watch me as I create it as well.

Tell us about an ordinary day here.
– I get up and check my emails while I’m eating breakfast. Love the hotel breakfast! And then I get going with the projects and start painting. The time has gone by so fast and I barely know what I’ve done here haha. But there have also been a lot of other things going on, not related to this. For example I applied to Konstfack and was interviewed by them last week.

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When are you the most effective?
– Definitely during the mornings and evenings!

You’re style is very urban, how come ?
– I was accepted to study fashion at a school in London but dropped out after only 3 months. Even though it was my dream education it was nothing like I had imagined it. I felt alone and so lost at times. The things we did in school weren’t for me so it got to the point where I didn’t go to class since I wasn’t learning anything useful. I realized what I DIDN’T want to do. I felt inhibited as an artist. So I decided to move to Stockholm and try new things. The school in London made me realize what type of fields I wasn’t in to, the urban scene intrigued me so much more. And the move to Stockholm made me explore that.

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When and where was your first display?
– It was at the store Urban Outfitters right when I moved here from London. I simply saw that someone had a display there and asked the staff if I could do it too. They said that there was a very long waiting list but I didn’t care.  I sent them my portfolio and made sure to contact the manager as often as I could. And so they told me that I could display my work. It was such a great feeling and not to mention timing, I was still lost after everything that had happened in London and was looking for encouragement or just a push in the right direction. When Urban Outiffers wanted me to display my work there I knew that it might bring other great opportunities my way, but I also knew that it was the time to start working really hard, being lazy wasn’t going to get me anywhere. I sent out my portfolio everywhere and contacted as many people as I possibly could in order to be where I am now.

You’re having a Vernissage soon, tell us about that!
– Yes! On May 9th I’ll be having a Vernissage here with some other female artists, DJs and musicians performing. The theme is a tribute to Swedish hip hop. So excited!

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Featured Image by Sotarn Otf

Photography by Milja Rossi