Arts & Culture

Talking Black Market with Over It Studio’s Julia Emiliani

One of Hassle's arts editors, Chloe, talks Black Market along with the trials and tribulations of making with vendor Julia Emiliani


Julia Emiliani at one of her booths

Hassle’s Black Market is this Sunday 12/10. Be sure to come by and check out Julia’s work with Over It Studios!!!

Etsy shop:


Instagram: @juliaemiliani

Chloe: Black Market is a way for everyone to get their hands on affordable art and handmade objects. What is the draw for for you to participate in such markets? Can you tell us how you feel about selling in local popup markets as opposed to freelance illustrating, or other conventional ways to distribute your craft?
Julia: The thing I like most about pop-ups and other local markets is how immediate and accessible it is to get your work out there! As long as you can pay a tabling fee and get yourself there, your artwork is on display for hundreds of visitors looking to buy something unique or handmade. Even though prepping for markets is a lot of work, the results are much quicker and more satisfying than other distribution channels. Not only are you more likely to get a sale once you can get your work in a buyer’s hands IRL, it’s super rewarding to see your work make someone’s day. Plus, you can also interact with and get tips from other vendors or visitors and even create connections that expand the reach of your work. Like, the owner of the HausWitch up in Salem visited my table once a Black Market in 2016 and now I’ve been able to sell some of my work in her store for over a year now, which I *love* being able to do and am super grateful to the Black Market for that!

Thundercunt Patch, purchase here:

C: As accessible as a craft market is, have you found that an online presence has made your work even more reachable? Has your audience happened to grow passed your local community by putting your work out on the web?
J: Yes! Of course an online presence definitely helps expand the reach of my work. As great as pop ups/markets are I know that everyone feels real comfortable looking at products online, so having an attractive online shop, Instagram presence, etc definitely helps business and solidifies your “brand”. Just today I sent out some online orders and they went to places as diverse as Utah, New York, Florida, Washington state and Maine. I’ve also been fortunate enough to work with some stockists who carry some of my products in stores in California and Virginia. I’ve gotten a little traction overseas too which is really cool! Despite that, I still feel quite rooted in the Boston/greater Boston community. <3

Self-Care, Julia Emiliani, pencil, marker, digital, 2017. Purchase here:

C: A lot of your work touches on feminism and other social justice concepts. How do you use illustration as a tool to communicate messages you find important? Do your opinions on certain issues guide how you choose to make?
J:  My experiences and feelings absolutely guide what I make both in with my products and illustration work. With most of my work, it’s not necessarily my intention to spread a particular message, it’s more an expression of how I really feel. Genuinely I am pretty blunt and unfiltered, fairly vulgar, and pissed off and frustrated at all the messed up and unfair things that I see effect my life and others – especially recently (as we all know). Naturally at some point, my point of view is bound to come out in my work!

Don’t Touch Me pinback button, purchase here:

C:  I see a lot of aspects of my own life in your artwork and objects, I’m sure a lot of people feel similarly. Are you making works to be personally relatable to your audience? It is as if interacting with your stuff is like having a conversation in which we are finding out all the things we have in common.
J: I’m happy to hear that my work hits home with people! Like I said, my work is mostly inspired by my own real feels and experiences, so it’s not necessarily my intention to “be relatable” – it’s just a visual expression of how I honestly feel because I don’t know how to make artwork any other way. I’m really glad to be able to connect with people through artwork and I’m glad people can find satisfaction in it too.

Code Red, Julia Emiliani, gouache on paper, 2017

C:  Have any haters? Tell us about some crazy criticism you’ve received. Have you ever overheard any kind of off-hand comments at the market? Sometimes its hard to detach ourselves from our craft.
J: I think the most criticism I’ve received so far is on a painting I made this summer called Code Red where it shows three women menstruating through their panties. I made it for Fem Project (@femproject) which is a non-profit working to provide menstruation supplies to the homeless and destigmatize menstruation in general. I also later had it in an exhibit for Nasty Women Boston (@nastywomenboston). Both times each organization posted the image on Instagram it received criticism for the imagery being “slightly over the top” or general flack from conservative folk. Beyond that, I’ve upset some people by using “the c-word” in some of my work, I’ve been asked to censor my table display, and one time an older woman did the sign of the cross in front of my table and walked away. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I just like to think I have her blessing haha. I totally get where these people are coming from, and they certainly don’t have to like it! I think artwork is successful when it makes people feel, even if it’s negative toward me! I’m just going to continue to speak my truth and let the chips fall where they may. 

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