Senior BFA student and tattoo artist Julia Fegelman talks about her art process leading from tattoos to Themester to tattoos again, commenting on the vast inspiration of nature and organic work in her art career.
I’ve looked at some of your recent tattoo work online– can you talk about your inspiration for your Themester piece in relation to your previous work?
Yeah! A lot of my work is usually focused around nature, or like, organic themes– I mean, that’s where I’m moving my tattoos and that’s the direction I want to go in. So I was already thinking about nature and how humans interact with nature– it’s just what I've been researching lately– so when I got the theme of [Identity and Identification], I thought about what overarching identities we share as people because I know there are so many subgroups and everything, and the one I connected with was like, we all live on planet Earth, you know? So that’s pretty undisputable. And so, yeah, I just went with the nature theme for this, and it was inspired by my previous work and then the idea just stuck with me, so it went from there.
Can you talk about some of your work outside Themester?
Since the semester just started, I haven’t started anything new yet... but I’m actually going into my thesis right now and I think I’m going to be doing a tattoo project for that, so the work is going to be tattoos– obviously I haven’t thought about it for very long, but I think I’m going to do some sort of organic, natural-looking designs and then do them on people and they all look the same, and then the people themselves will be displayed in the gallery as the artwork. It’ll kind of be a conversation about, like, humans connecting with other humans, humans connecting with nature, people connecting with things that I connect with– just a spiderweb of things. It’s obviously not completely fleshed out, but that’s what I’m currently working on right now. I’m really just moving all my work in this natural sort of direction. It definitely follows what I ended up doing for Themester.
Talking about exhibitions– how are we feeling about the campus seeing your artwork everywhere?
I’m excited about it! Yeah, I’m really excited– I remember when I was a freshman seeing the Themester posters around campus and thinking like "Oh my God, am I going to have to do that? Like, if I join the BFA program?" and it turns out I did have to do that.
I’m really excited that I got to work on this project with my dad– like, he helped me pick out the logs and make the prints and everything. It’s cool to see something that’s a piece of work that ended up being so personal to me—and honestly to my identity—being displayed for so many people to see and connect with themselves, hopefully. Honestly, the moment when it really hit me when so many people were going to see was when I went to go pick up the shirts, because literally everyone in [Dunn Meadow] was holding one. And that was the first time I’d seen the shirts too! I went, "Oh my god, everyone is holding my little tree!" [laughs] I’ve never had anything displayed so widespread, so... wow, it’s cool.
Even though it’s still a ways away, what are your graduation plans?
Currently, I’m going to try to do the tattoo artist thing. I think I’m going to see what I can do there. I think what I’m already doing, I want to keep doing that; some design projects, some tattooing, and just weaving them together. I’m ready to dive into the tattoo world.
I really like the idea of opening a little studio because I’m kind of already doing that out of my house, but I’m also vibing with traveling around the country and guest-spotting with other tattoo studios and seeing what it’s like to work in a group environment, and then go from there. I get a lot of inspiration from being around other creative people and getting ideas from them, so I like a communal space, but I also feel really comfortable in my own single person space right now. Whatever it’s going to be, it’s going to be awesome.