NAME: Julio Zarate

LOCATION: Eugene, Oregon


Sum up your creative process in one word/phrase, and explain why.

Layers, and evolving

Since I am a mixed media artist who uses oil paint, it’s important for me to have a pretty clear image of what I want the final piece to look like. Once I have that image I need to figure out how I will make that happen- when will I draw, when will I use spray paint, when will I start with the oil, etc. As my process evolves, so does my subject matter and purpose because in my mind they are all linked. I am deliberate about paint application, line placement, and my process with oil painting, spray paint and graffiti influences, but there is also a level of flow and improvisation that happens as I am creating.

Were you always an artist, even as a child? What was your path to becoming an artist? 

No, I worked towards it for sure. As a kid, I was impressed with my older cousin and my mother’s ability to draw. It took me a long time to catch up to their abilities. I would say I do not have any “natural talent” for art. I wanted to be like them very badly so I kept practicing. I spent a lot of time drawing cartoons and comic book characters. Later on in my early teens through my 20’s graffiti writing took the place of my cartoons. As a teen and to this day I love looking at graffiti. Again I wanted badly to be able to do what I saw, so I practiced a lot.


What is your medium of choice and what drew you to this particular medium?

Oil paint on canvas. I chose this once I got to college. I had never used oils before and they were a huge challenge for me. I loved the way they moved and the marks that the paint, when applied with a brush, would make on canvas. I also appreciated the work it took to be able to use oil effectively. The reason I now use mixed media and not just oil is to bridge the gap between my early influences in art (what brought me to art) and the skills I picked up in college.

Is there any particular experience, person, place or thing that inspires you to create? Tell us about that.

I have 2, but really it’s just life in general. First, it’s my day to day. The love I feel and receive from my family, the stress from work, all move me towards painting. Second, is probably social media. Much of my motivation comes from looking. I am inspired by other artists. When I see other people being creative it makes me want to create.


What is it like showing your work to people and what do you hope people take away from it? 

I love showing my work to people. All of my work has meaning but I am more curious about what someone else gets out of it or sees. I love to hear critique, I am constantly in the process so it is important for me to hear “negative” feedback to improve. When people see my work I am listening for how they think the painting is executed and what the painting makes them feel. I am always so curious about it because I know what they mean to me, so to hear what my intentions manifest in someone else is exciting.

What did winning the Award for Excellence mean to you? 

It was super exciting and totally unexpected. It was also a sign to me that I was on the right track. The work I showed was all new and a leap from what I was doing before. I thought I was on to something good but you never know until you put it out there. So, winning was a validation and great motivation to keep working.


What advice do you have for other artists who may be looking to get their work exhibited?

Keep making work and keep looking for opportunities to show. Apply to everything and expect rejection. I almost didn’t apply for the Conception show because I was afraid my work was not good enough, and to show at such a large event in a city like LA was very intimidating. Sometimes you just have to go for it.