Julia Gabriel Art

American Made Since 2012

Julia Gabriel

Houston, Texas
I am drawn to architecture and the idea that a building has a soul. My work strives to draw out the personalities of abandoned buildings.

Tell us about your business.

The second we enter a space, or even upon viewing the exterior, we feel an emotion. No matter how subtle, the building instantly gives us a vibe that cannot be explained in architectural terms. The expressions of abandoned buildings in particular have caught my attention. The crumbling bricks and peeling paint are proof of a life lived that deserves a little recognition. I want my work to stay true to the feeling of a building but also it's most basic function as shelter. By adding straps and a closure to a fiber building, it becomes a backpack that hugs its owner for a ride past other buildings, inside of buildings, down sidewalks, and through alleyways. No longer planted in the ground, this structure can now be carried on your back.

What makes your business stand out?

I've been in chronic pain for the last three years with a jaw condition that has effected my whole spine. I see myself in the structural imperfections of abandoned architecture and feel less alone in my pain when I focus on their beauty. My backpacks are the way I cope with the stresses of pain by escaping into a skyline of colorful stitches and hand-dyed fabrics. A backpack allows the building to maintain its original purpose of shelter while giving it the freedom to explore the world outside its own front door. 'The Painted Ladies' were my first series of backpacks that were based on well-known and flourishing buildings. This was my attempt to focus on the preservation of this historically significant architecture and prove to myself that it is possible. My work is based in optimism and my own need to believe in a positive future.

What's the best business advice you've received?

My glassblowing professor, Jack Wax, told me he creates work that people don't want to buy; then he giggled like a child that was thrilled with his own bad behavior. I interpreted this moment as a lesson to follow my own instincts and passions, and to not get caught up in a desire to please others. This may not always be the best 'business' advice, but I think its good to live by.

Mark Your Calendar

    Aug. 31, 2015

    Final day for entering the Audience Choice Award competition.

    Oct. 19, 2015

    Final day to cast your vote for your favorite makers.

    Oct. 23, 2015

    2015 Editors' Award Winners and Audience Choice Winner announced.

    See past Award Winners
    Nov. 7, 2015

    Don’t miss our networking event and maker lecture series in New York City. Tickets are available now.

    Discover the American Made Summit

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