March's Artist & Ambassador of the Month: JULIE OLSON

by Stephen Hans

Julie Olson is one of the forerunners of bringing alcohol ink art to the mainstream. We are thrilled to highlight her work and hear from her in this interview:

1) What kind of alcohol ink artist are you? How did you get started? Tell us a little about you.

I started my art journey as a kid, then I took a slight detour into graphic design and got a BFA from ASU. After college, I moved to Washington DC. I eventually became art director at USDA in Washington DC, working mostly on nutrition programs and SNAP (food stamps) campaigns. I switched gears and got a masters degree in landscape design and sustainable landscaping. My life took at turn when my elderly mom became very ill and after 22 years in DC, I moved back home to the family farm in northeastern ND. After she died, I cleaned out my dad’s old workshop for my art studio and began working on and learning abstract art. I picked up inks one day, and I was hooked.

It’s been 7 years and I have sold abstract ink art all over the world and recently won awards locally, now having a painting in the permanent art collections of UND. This March, I’ll be one of four artists showing at The Capital Gallery in Bismarck, ND.

2) What would you say are your specialties as an alcohol ink artist? What sets you apart?

My art imparts an innate sense of joy and beauty. It’s strange how “joy” has become part of my art as so many years I’ve suffered from depression. I think what I’ve been through in my 59 years (eek!) imparts a depth that others feel when they see my art.

3) Do you teach how to do this at all? How can we learn from you?

I teach locally now, in Grand Forks, ND. I’ve wanted to teach online, but a strong enough connection in my studio is impossible. I’m working on trying to bring broadband to my studio, but that will take time. Stay tuned. Anyone can always ask questions. I’m glad to help.

4) What advice for new alcohol ink artists would you offer?

If you love it, don’t stop doing it. If you work a full-time job, take some time when you can, at least 30 minutes a day, and do more art. Practice constantly. The more you do, the more you learn and improve your skills. It’s all about doing the work. Take a break when you need it. If you get bored, pick up a new medium. That’s how I discovered inks after oil paints and watercolors. I was ready to try something new.

5) What have you enjoyed most about using T-Rex Inks? Do you have any in-depth review videos / posts about our inks we can link to?

OMG I love T-Rex Inks! They have become my favorite. Your starter pack led me to do “rainbow” paintings—the colors are perfect for that. The Warm and Cool Earthtones are the best I’ve seen. When your Starlight Blender came with the glitter, I knew I was in heaven. That blender can be used on any inks, it works so well.

You can find Julie on Instagram here.