At Home with Juliet Johnstone
An interview with the painter and accidental fashion designer
July 23, 2020
Let’s get the profile stuff out of the way—what is your name, age, city, and profession or craft? For how long have you been doing what you do?
Los Angeles, CA
I have been painting forever. I grew up in a creative family and my entire life has been centered around creating since I was little. Once I tried painting, it just kind of stuck. I studied fine art at Parsons in New York and then worked as a studio assistant. In my own practice, I focused mostly on large-scale abstract paintings. Last year, I started experimenting with painting on my own carpenter pants and it just worked out.
Who or what inspires your work?
I reference a lot of old posters from the 60’s, Japanese gardening books, the Beatles, infrared scans, vintage botanical prints…the list goes on and on. My favorite book is The Book of Symbols. Reflections on Archetypal Images—I am constantly referencing back to it for inspiration and meaning behind elements in my work (If you went to art school, they most likely made you buy it).
How does nature or the outdoors play a role in how you work or live?
Inspiration comes from all over. Living in LA is amazing because I get to hike every day! I mix all of my own dyes and create my own colors and also find a lot of inspiration from the colors on my hikes. I try to work outside as much as possible. Painting on pants is great because I can just set up a table anywhere.
What are three brands or products that inspire you? (p.s. you don’t have to mention us)
I’m inspired by so many brands but if I had to choose three favorites it would have to be Patagonia, Vivienne Westwood, and Carhartt. My own personal style is a big mix of things. I like clashing patterns and functional clothing. As an artist, workwear plays a big role in my life. Every day is spent in a pair of carpenter pants.
What are your thoughts on life after the lockdown? What do you imagine will change?
I think life after lockdown is going to be really interesting. I think people are going to realize that we don’t need all that we were trained to think we needed before. We can start acting with deeper intention and be more thoughtful as consumers. And of course, never take time with people we care about for granted.
What defines “making it” for you? But much more important for us… what are your thoughts on the journey to “making it?” [For example, for Season Three, that journey can be lonely, hard, chaotic emotions, and that the overall sacrifice doesn’t really resonate with people who are not also on a similar path.]
I don’t know how to define “making it”. For me, the journey and process of creating is what really matters. I am lucky to be surrounded by creative friends that I can talk through ideas with and work with—that’s the best part of all of this.
I think “making it” is feeling complete bliss and satisfaction creatively while also using my platform to be able to talk about things that are bigger than fashion.
Juliet can be followed at @julietjohnstone on Instagram.