On asking Juli Majer to sum up her work in one sentence, she says: “My work is an in-between growth. It’s like an itching scab on a tomato shaped flower, attached to an unknown entity.” It's an aptly odd description, considering the Vancouver-based illustrator blurs the boundaries of storytelling, creating whimsical illustrations straight from outer space.
Raised in Canada by refugee parents, Juli often felt dissociated with her identity: “I always thought of my genealogy as a long trail that expands into many areas that I don’t know much about,” she tells It’s Nice That. After feeling unable to explain her own history in a “digestible” way, Juli became fascinated with the mysteries of Sci-Fi: “I like to think that people are like these alien planets," she says. “Individuals are dynamic ecosystems, not static beings with fixed personalities or unchanging characteristics."
Although her colourful works seem innocent, they’re saturated with far more than colour. Juli’s fascination with Sci-Fi lies in its ability to convey larger messages: “I really love science fiction, particularly soft science fiction with radical, often political themes. I owe a lot to Octavia E. Butler and her words/worlds,” she tells us. Like Octavia, fantasy and Sci-Fi became an outlet for Juli to express herself, and says: “there is a limitless expanse of creatures and organisms that I can call upon to illustrate things about myself that I’m unable to address literally, or head on.”
To make her works, Juli takes the rough drawings from her sketchbooks to create compositions using transparent paper, which she then colours with pencils. A graduate from Emily Carr University in Vancouver, she actually specialised in sculpture and ceramics. Although an illustrator, she still makes 3D works, as part of artist collective Puddle Popper, who create immersive, sculptural exhibitions.
Juli is also one half of experimental comics press, DDOOGG, along with Cristian Hernandez-Blick. Beginning as a collective, they now self-publish books and zines by themselves and selected creatives, specialising in alternative works.
Currently, Juli is working on a project called Organic Technologies, seen through the lens of Octavie E. Butler’s written works. Describing the project so far, Juli tells us: “they are mysterious and complex forms that are always alive and growing, and other entities can learn how to intervene in their processes and manipulate them." Aside from this, she’ll also be working on a few smaller projects, including one about a very long worm that lives inside her brain.
GalleryAll images by Juli Majer
Juli Majer: Cosmic Gardeners