Updated: Jun 27, 2019
Words by Carly Trinier
Julia Monson is an encapsulation of her work: whimsical, colourful, funny and very Canadian. Living in their own separate watercolour universe, Julia’s characters live in an exaggerated world of now. That world is an ever-positive preservation of the time at hand.
With meme culture moving us toward satire, self-deprecation, and critique, Julia takes another perspective on the trends we toss aside in a month with a cringe.
“I want to celebrate these things,” she says as we sit under one of her pieces; a Gameboy, “As millennials we have grown up with so much change. I want to remember those attachments we have had, even if it’s to a Gameboy or cracked IPhone.”
With the world moving and changing faster than ever, Julia’s goal is to create a pause, a nostalgia to those trends that may pass all too fleetingly. She hopes to preserve those small attachments through her art. That is why it is no surprise to see Gameboys, iPhones, and Netflix as focal points in her work.
For us, it’s all about how Julia captures those mundane moments in a Torontonian’s day. The much too audible decline beep on the streetcar, the Friday evening LCBO bag, and trash pandas wearing our best Toronto swag. She has an undying love for the city and those little things that make it unique to us who live here.
It wasn’t until after art school that she decided to become an artist. Julia went to OCAD for Curatorial Studies and then, after graduation, started dabbling in watercolour, which is now her main medium.
“I’ve come into my own hand,” she says, “Lines are more uneven. I don’t focus on making everything perfect and those things have now kind of become my style. I used to use a ruler, but now I just draw.”
Each piece is part of a much grander universe. Each character, their lives, their possessions, all belong to the bigger world Julia creates with her lively colour palate. “One piece informs the other, informs the other, informs the other. It makes it hard to finish a series,” she says, laughing.
Julia’s work is intrinsically feminist. Sometimes with a Rah-Rah-Feminism approach and other times subtly highlighting the women of today. It is no surprise that next she looks forward to working with Toronto’s LGBTQ community. “It’s on the table,” she says, “it adds a new perspective on feminism. I’d like to move passed the singular perspective I have.”
She is excited to possibly work with the LGBTQ community to broaden her horizons and understand new and deeper definitions of feminism. Even her imagined world is moving to celebrate the full spectrum of life we have here in Toronto.