The memorable illustrations of Juliet Schreckinger have been lighting up the internet for some time now. Whether it’s larger-than-life sea creatures floating around, or a gang of animals enjoying life to the max, Juliet’s black and white creations are finding a place in our hearts. With a masterful use of the stippling technique, her artworks merge realism with surrealism. They are playful, and seem to reflect Juliet’s own spirited love for life. At only 21 years of age, Juliet Schreckinger has already achieved significant milestones in her career as an artist. Yet, there’s still much more fun to be had. I interviewed Juliet to bring you more on this up and coming artist, and share her world.
Interview with Juliet Schreckinger
At 21 years old, you’re still young in your career. Yet you sure have a genuine skill for illustration, which feels fully matured. That is an achievement in itself; never mind the fact that you have already exhibited in online and gallery group exhibitions. So firstly, I’d like to congratulate you. Secondly, it would be great to learn more about your journey so far. Are we talking natural talent, or many millions of hours in training to reach your current level of drawing?
Thank you so much for the kind words and the congratulations, that means the world to me! As for the question of natural talent or millions of hours of training: I believe that my present level of technique is the result of countless hours of intense practice and study. However, the creative process of composition and visual storytelling has perhaps come more naturally.
I genuinely enjoy obsessing on my work, and love to spend hours diving into extreme details in all of my drawings. I feel very blessed that I have a natural tendency to be patient and spend immense amounts of time on my drawings. For the past five years, I’ve spent almost every single day with a pen in my hand from the time I wake up to the time I go to sleep.
Did you have a moment where you made the decision to work towards becoming a professional artist? Or are you one of those artists who found one day that the world was paying attention to what you are creating?
There have been many moments in my life where I knew I wanted to be a professional artist. From the time I could hold a pencil in my hand it was all I wanted to do. I’m lucky in the sense that there was never any confusion in choosing a career path. I have always felt in my heart that my time on this earth would be best spent creating, and that being an artist is the most gratifying career path for me. I know that I am blessed every day to have the opportunity to create.
The stipple technique
In particular, you use the stipple technique to create your current illustrations. How did you get into this and what is it about the technique that really draws you to it?
In my work, I have found the stipple technique to be most effective for conveying what I want to say visually. I have always loved black and white film photography, and growing up my mother would always have her lovely photographs hanging in our home. Some of my favourite movies and shows are the older black and white ones created in the 1950s. There has always been something about this style of artwork that draws me in. The combination of stipple and graphite allows me to create something that has a similar feel to the photography and films that I grew up loving.
I have painted in acrylics, watercolour, and a few other mediums, but was never able to connect with my pieces as much as I do with ink. I find myself most passionate about the fine details in each piece. With stipple, I am able to get extremely tight points in the drawing, and I’m also able to really push the contrast.
While my main subject in the piece is typically created using stipple in ink, the secondary characters and backgrounds are completed in graphite; I feel this compliments the dark ink work. I love the combination of these two mediums, and hope to further my practice with them as I complete each new piece.
Was it difficult to learn this technique, compared to other methods that you have studied?
While I did struggle to learn this technique, it came more naturally to me than other methods I have studied. I believe this didn’t have much to do with the actual learning curve of the medium (painting is equally, if not more difficult, to learn). It was more to do with my passion for becoming proficient in that technique. Although it’s much more time consuming than other mediums may be, I love the control I have over the piece and the overall mood that I am able to achieve when using the ink and graphite combination.
My wish is to bring a smile to anyone that would take the time in their busy day to stop and view my art. I’m honoured that people seem to enjoy what I do, which only makes my passion to create even stronger!
The surrealism that you bring to your works is, simply, really good fun. Is this style something that you’ve always liked to play with?
Thank you so much; it’s so nice to hear that you find my work fun! I have always been drawn to surrealism. I recognized at a certain point that this style allowed me to push the boundaries in my visual storytelling. Conveying the story in each of my drawings is one of the most important aspects of my work, and I feel that surrealism allows me to tell the complete story without limitations. I began my artistic study working more in the vein of realism, which was a good start because it made me a better artist in a technical sense. However, this surrealistic style allows me to tell stories that I feel very close to.
Juliet Schreckinger: growing up with the animals
I remember growing up with this ginormous encyclopaedia of animals that I’d spent hours perusing as a child. There’s something about your works which remind me of that… Though of course, my encyclopaedia certainly didn’t show them having as much fun as your animals are! Why the focus on animals, say, rather than humans?
I love that you brought up an encyclopaedia of animals. That is one of the first ways that I became interested in the subject as a child! I had many books on different creatures, and I was always so enchanted by them. I chose to focus on animals in my work because that is what I am most passionate about. As a child, if I wasn’t drawing, I’d be outside trying to find birds, toads, and other little living things. My parents fostered my love for creatures, and even had a room in our home filled with animals which more closely resembled a zoo! At the beach, I often sit by the edge of the water trying to find horseshoe crabs, fish, and other sea life.
I am extremely passionate about animal conservation and environmentalism and try to convey this passion in my work. Before using an animal as my subject, I will typically research facts about them and their habitat. I use this information to help me understand the character I am creating on a deeper level.
What is it about the ocean and its creatures that entices you so much?
Ocean creatures specifically interest me because I have always loved being on the water. Additionally, I find it fascinating that there is an entire world beneath the surface of the sea. Growing up on Long Island, NY, I have been lucky enough to be around the ocean my whole life, which I think plays a huge role in my love for the animals in that environment. Both of my parents have always loved whale watching and being on the water, which influenced me growing up. It opened my eyes to the importance of these creatures within our world.
From illustration to skateboards
I notice as well that skateboards are a recurring feature: why not merge multiple interests, I guess!
Yes, skateboards are most definitely a recurring feature in my work! When I am not drawing, my favourite hobbies are skateboarding and surfing. Both are such wonderful outlets and stress relievers for me, and I have a genuine love for both. I love to merge my artwork with these two passions at times. Additionally, I’ve actually created many custom skateboards and surfboards. The highlight of this was definitely getting to draw a custom piece on a pro surfer’s surfboard!
As well as the custom skateboards, you created a live mural back in 2019. Have you participated in many projects such as this?
Back in 2019, I had the opportunity to create a mural overlooking the boardwalk and the ocean in Long Beach, NY. This was one of my favourite moments in my art career to date. The mural depicts a humpback whale rising above a polluted ocean, carrying different elements of nature on its back. The mural is titled “Rise Above” and is an attempt to bring awareness to the need for ocean conservation.
I loved this project because it allowed me to use my art in a positive way. I was able to give a voice to the wonderful creatures that do not have a voice of their own. This mural opened the door to many other wonderful opportunities.
Since then, I have been honoured to work on multiple projects with the Fabien Cousteau Ocean Learning Center. The highlight of this was being the featured artist for their coral reef restoration project. I have also had the opportunity to work with one of my favourite organizations, the Pangeaseed Foundation.
2021 and beyond
Do you have any events or projects coming up?
I am very excited about the future, and already have some wonderful projects lined up for 2021. As already mentioned, I am super excited about my collaboration with Pangeaseed, which is a wonderful organization whose mission to protect ocean life is very dear to my heart. I’ve been working very hard on a collaborative project with them, which will be released in 2021!
I’m also so excited to be participating in group exhibitions for the WOWxWOW online gallery. The gallery director is such a wonderful person. He really allows the artist to have creative freedom in the work that we create for the shows. Another thing I’m most excited about is my collaboration with Modern Eden Gallery, and my involvement in one of their group shows. I have always had so much respect for the wonderful content they curate. There are many other awesome projects and pieces that I cannot wait to create in the new year. Honestly, I am feeling really grateful to be able to do what I love.