Featured Artist Julia Berkley

Artist Julia Berkley uses fabric to create whimsical and abstract collages. Enjoy her portfolio, and check out her website to see more of her art, and her blog where she features works in progress and finished pieces.

What are your goals?

Like anyone on a journey, my goals seem to be ever-evolving. At the beginning, as my artistic spirit emerged out of traditional handwork, my goal was to see myself as a collage artist rather than a handcrafter. Working with fabric, that’s always a fine line. In the beginning of my art career that distinction was important to me, though now I find it silly. Then it became important to find a way to distinguish myself from art quilters: because I work in fabric, people assume my art is sewn. In fact, all my art is glued, or assembled, as current terminology goes. Learning how to communicate that was important.

Now that my work is getting more known, my goals include broadening my base of collectors, getting my collages into more galleries, and expanding my sources of commissions. Currently I create pieces for local area medical centers, primarily through an art consultant who has been excellent at placing my work. I would be happy placing more art in healing settings, and would also be happy to see my pieces in individual’s homes where they might be enjoyed daily.

What are you working on now?

I continue a series of small tree collages that are sort of bread-and-butter pieces, yet each is uniquely its own, with three-dimensional leaves and a simple landscape background.

For my own creative interest, I recently made a less complicated, more abstract tree collage, called “Dancing Trees,” that I found intriguing to work on…. I’d like to create variations on that theme and see what emerges. At the same time, much of my work is becoming more and more complex, like “Aspiring to Glory (Bindweed I),” with lots of layering and interweaving. I’m equally pulled in this direction. So while I’ll follow the path of the simpler trees for a while, I’m sure I’ll be drawn back into complexity soon.

What inspires you?

Inspiration comes from all sorts of sources, but especially the fabric itself. I’m extremely grateful to all the unrecognized fabric designers of the world who create such wonderful pieces of art that I can then transform into something uniquely mine! Collaging with fabric lets surface decoration inspire the vision, and texture define the details. The fabric doesn’t have to be hand-painted or from an expensive shop – much of what I use comes from inexpensive fabric stores, or are given to me by furniture stores or friends and family. Some are scraps left over from someone’s quilting, others are someone’s favorite shirt. Often, though, I love to work with batiks from all over, because they work so well into the themes of my art.

Generally speaking, I tend to think in terms of natural elements – sometimes the more realistic tangle of leaves and branches, sometimes the iconic version of something in my head from childhood, like a lollipop tree. But the unifying theme in all of them is the beauty of the natural world. All human beings are drawn to images of nature, whether we’re intimately engaged with the great outdoors or remain indoors by choice or necessity. I believe that beyond pure biological necessity, the natural world is needed to keep us whole psychologically. While active engagement in and preservation of this beauty is our continual goal, in reality many of us remain removed from it through our home and work environments. Thus images of nature help us balance our lives.

In my abstract works in fabric, I draw on the basic forms and colors we see in the landscapes around us and twist them to add an element of surprise. The collages have a healing quality and at the same time try to hold the viewer’s interest through their complex layers and materials. I hope you enjoy browsing through my website and blog as much as I’ve enjoyed reading about other Artsy Shark emerging artists!


  1. Love reading this! Her thoughts on her work as her career evolved is wonderful! I LOVE the shapes, textures, and color she so masterfully puts together! Delightful!

    • I agree, Jennifer. Julia is a talented artist – and writer. Her ideas and perceptions about the natural world with regard to her collages are like a work of art themselves.

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