I am launching a new feature on my blog today. I am calling it: “Your NJ neighbor”. From time to time I will be introducing you to people who live and work in the communities I serve as a resident and real estate professional. Today I am introducing you to Julie Castillo of Cranford, N.J. Julie is an exceptional artist and interesting person. Here is Julie in her own words:
It all began when I first came out of my mom’s womb. I think I started seeing Art (spacial things} when I first saw light. I think this is why I see things as shapes. I was playing with dirt when I was very little. As I grew, I progressed to a clay type of sculpting. I used to make cameras and all sorts of shapes you could hold in your hands. I found soap as a medium to make images with.I remember a piece I did probably for a gift to my mother. It was a side view of a man in a black suit and red tie. I think he had a mustache or something like that.
I had mounted the whole thing on some carved wood. I resined the piece. I know I sewed things into pieces, made clothes, tables, fur jackets, macramed things, clay sculptures, just about anything I could find I would paint, sculpt or draw on it.
When I was about 9 or 10, I started getting influenced by magazines, influenced by the places shown in the magazines. I became very obsessed with travel. As a young child, my parents would take us camping up and down the west coast, Mexico and to the furthest east, Montana, and the Dakotas. We were very fortunate to be able to go on these long vacations around the country. I think I was greatly influenced in my nomadic travels because of this. During grade school, I already knew I wanted to be an artist and that I wanted to live in New York City, work and travel in Europe. I didn’t know how to make it happen then, but I knew eventually it would. In high school, I really focused on painting, drawing and ceramics. I ended up building, along with my father and my ceramics teacher, my own kiln. It was amazing. I did mostly porcelain. I worked at this until I got out of high school and a little after. I then moved onto junior college.
I still wasn’t sure about being an artist. I didn’t want to starve. So I decided to become a commercial artist. This would afford me some comfort and still give me a little bit of creative freedom. I got accepted to the prestigious Art Center College of design and moved to Los Angeles. After finishing with school I worked in Los Angeles for a year or two, back to San Diego for a year or so, then off to New York. All the while working for the Los Angeles Times, The Herald Examiner, Playboy, The San Diego Union, Lorimar Pictures and others. So in 1988, I made the move to New York City. I was scared but I had the desire to make it.
I remember one day, when I had been here for only three months, only a few cents in my pocket, holes in my shoes, pouring rain, my umbrella blowing the other way, thinking I am going to go talk to my broker. I had a friend who worked for Prudential Financial Services. He always told me I could call him from any Prudential office. So I thought, “I am going to call my broker”. So I went to the first office I saw. Asked the lady, “I want to speak to my broker”. By the way, this was Prudential’s advertising slogan. I went in the office, she showed me to my own office, put my feet up on the desk and called my friend at their expense. I think we laughed for a long time about this. That same day, I got a call for my first freelance job and things seemed to be on their way. I worked for many great companies, foremost was Ralph Lauren. I worked within that company in women’s accessories, home furnishing, men’s wear. The last is what really set me on my way as I ended up developing my style and reputation as an illustrator.
From there, I went to Italy and worked for Gucci for a while and traveled through Europe. Ended up going back to Europe for a few more visits with friends I had made there. Came back to America, working with Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Banana Republic, Harley Davidson, Nicole Miller, New York Times and many others. Up until a few years ago, when I was able to begin developing my fine art. Even while I was an illustrator, I was still making my own art. I remember one time when I had just started working with Calvin Klein. He phoned me, I was kind of thrown for a loop. He asked me why I didn’t want to work for him full time. I remember saying I had the goal to work on my own art, not just commercial art. He was a very nice man. Now I have a very different life. I have my greatest achievement still in it’s growth period. This is my son, although, I am still working on my painting and sculpture with the occasional illustration job.. I think my greatest achievements are knowing that I always could do it, that I could reach those goals and I always had my parents love to guide me. It’s not so much the people whom I have met, but how each one has impressed something on my life to help me to see life for what it really is. Learning from both the good and the bad. Every moment is precious. You can’t swim the tide alone, so you might as well take the boat. Don’t forget the oar! What ever that means to you.
Visit Julie’s Website for more information on her fine art.
Liz Mathieu says
I love this new feature! What a great way to showcase our neighbors and all the interesting people that live in this area. Very nice.
Sharon Steele says
Thanks, Liz! I find so many people to be fascinating… I LOVE sharing their stories! Stay tuned for more interesting “Your NJ Neighbor” posts!
maureen mccarthy says
Julie, you are a truly amazing person. Thank you for sharing your story. What a varied work history you have had…Gucci, tommy, ralph. etc. you are truly gifted in many ways. maureen
Thanks, Mom! Julie loves you too!