Frequently Asked Questions
How did you become an illustrator?
I've been drawing my whole life and always knew I wanted to be an artist, but for some reason I never realized "illustrator" was an actual career I could pursue. I took all the art classes I could in High School, and post graduating, I decided not to go to university for art. I see the value in it for others, but for myself I chose to keep learning through personal practice as opposed to studying under a professor. The main step is to start taking yourself seriously. Make a website, business cards, and begin telling people what you do! Being a freelance artist was hard at first, as I had no one to ask for help. I devoured YouTube videos on becoming an artist. I grew my Instagram following. I took every job that came my way; open calls at local galleries, murals, commissions, set design. Each job taught me more about myself and my art. I was even featured in my town newspaper twice which helped me become known locally as an artist.
Only later did I discover that I wanted to be an illustrator. I changed my website and socials to reflect this path, and applied to agencies that I saw other illustrators were a part of. I am currently unagented, but work finds me through my consistent posting through Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter. Now I illustrate books, occasionally take commissions, sell my originals and prints, and attend craft markets. The process of building a career from my art has taken 3 years so far, and I'm sure plenty more before I feel established and secure.
How did you find your style?
This was a long journey, and I'm sure it will never stop. If you've been following me for a while, you'll know that I experimented with oil painting, graphite, scientific illustration, and finally landed here, in "the golden age of illustration" style of illustration. During the period where I explored all these areas, I never felt happy in my art or fulfilled in what I created. I couldn't see myself doing this long-term. And yet, on the side, I collected and read my favourite books that had the "golden age" type drawings in them. This style has always been my inspiration, and yet I never created it myself. I was afraid to. But I kept creating many different things, and tried to copy my favourite illustrations from my favourite books on the side. Then my style suddenly stuck, and I found that my art was created easier and I fell in love with it. It made me happy and gave me so much inspiration.
My tip for you: create what you love, don't over think it. Don't stress about finding a style, it will find you as you create more and more.
I don't regret staying so long in realism and other forms of art; it gave me the anatomical skills and rounded know-how to fall where I am now!
What supplies do you use?
I buy Daniel Smith paints in the tube and put them into an empty travel watercolour pan from my local art store Opus. I have about 15 colours, and am slowly building a larger collection. Although, I like to mix my own colours and mainly work with Yellow Ochre, Crimson Red, Prussian Blue, and various browns, and that is all. I like the earthy tones this creates!
I use M Graham & Co. gouache, also in tubes, that I put in a smaller travel pan like I do with my watercolours. I only have a few shades of red and green and white in this brand. I also use Holbein Acryla Gouache's starter kit with just the primaries, black and white.
Fine Liners and Ink
I use Micron Pens in sizes 005, 01, 02, 03, 05, and 08.
For liquid ink I use Higgins Fountain Pen india ink, with the Speedball sketching pen set, specifically in nib size 108.
Sketchbook and Paper
I use the travelogue Handbook and Co sketchbook. For loose watercolours, I use Fabriano Cold Press Watercolour Paper. For pencil or inks, I use recycled Strathmore paper.
I edit my artwork on Procreate.
Can I get your artwork tattooed?
I'm so honoured you'd like my artwork permanently on yourself! You may, as long as it isn't a design I've made for someone or for myself. Please email me to ask about a specific piece. Also make sure you give credit to me and that your tattoo artist does too when posting about it, just by tagging @juliafmartens . I accept tips via PayPal (firstname.lastname@example.org) or my KoFi linked above in "support".