In the Studio with Julia Kostreva

September 03, 2014

Inside the Studio with Julia Kostreva /
Inside the Studio with Julia Kostreva /
Earlier this year I asked my friend Julia Kostreva for a little peak into her studio and creative process. I'm a huge fan of her work and admire everything she is doing. Here is a little glimpse into our day!

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your work!
I'm a creative director and designer in San Francisco. I help creative businesses with branding direction and development to build their vision, visual design like logo and branding design, styling, campaign art direction, graphic design, web design, and print. I love tactile work as well - I have a background in printmaking, screen printing, and letterpress. I also design products for my shop. My shop is my playground. I like to paint for patterned products and also paint just to paint, and design products that I’d like to have. My newest products are a mix of joyful painting and pattern, and lighthearted photography and a couple daily mantras to keep us going. Also, over the last few months I have begun to collaborate with boutiques and makers to create collaborations and exclusive products - this has been my favorite thing yet and I hope to be able to do it more!

Inside the Studio with Julia Kostreva /
Inside the Studio with Julia Kostreva /
Can you describe your creative process?
I use japanese sumi ink to get started with my patterns and designs, then finish coloring them digitally on the computer. For example - there are the two new paint stroke patterned iPhone cases in my shop. They are different designs in the end, but they are both created from the same original black ink painting, if you can believe it! I use the computer to design from pieces of scanned artwork, transform shape and scale and bring in color. These are both inspired by the Henri Matisse quote, "There are always flowers for those who want to see them." The original painting is called Garden, and is sold as an artist print in my shop.

Inside the Studio with Julia Kostreva /
Inside the Studio with Julia Kostreva /
What inspires you?
Everything in my daily life - I'll see something out the window, or pick something up on a walk, or bring in new plants or move furniture around and create different spaces. I like to get away from the computer and see things in a different light. When I'm looking to spark an idea.... Giving myself space and time always (albeit slowly) brings me the best ideas. Inspiration is sudden, and you can look to find inspiration, but the best inspiration simply finds you. I also love trying new things - trying different mediums, learning new processes, dabbling and learning about things that other people do. When I try something new it changes the way I think about things, gives me new methods of approach, and most of all, trying new things gives me so much respect for the people who have mastered it.

Inside the Studio with Julia Kostreva /
Inside the Studio with Julia Kostreva /
If you could only choose one, what is your favorite item in your shop?
I love artwork... I'd choose one of the ink paintings. I can't stop looking at "Women" or "The Row".

What is the most important thing you've learned since starting your business?
Keep going. Definitely one of my biggest daily mantras of my life. Things go up and down all the time. That’s the nature of freelance. I like a challenge, and I like that every day is completely different. I encourage you, find things that light up your heart! Work relentlessly. Make that thing because you want to see it... Be on fire about it! Make it happen. Then do something else.

Inside the Studio with Julia Kostreva /
Inside the Studio with Julia Kostreva /

What has been your favorite moment so far?
I feel very grateful that I’m able to continue to grow as a freelancer, able to work with creative people, help people start or grow their business, and able to create my own projects …and all the while earn a living. I wouldn’t trade it for any other life.

Where would you like to see your studio in 5 years?
Right now it's been about a year and half since I started freelance - so I'm now getting my feet planted and feeling sturdy. Feels like a good start. I'm really hoping to get back to my art roots and make more things with my hands. Create freely and design for different handmade processes. I'd love to continue to collaborate with boutiques and other makers - that is the most inspiring and amazing and humbling experience as an artist, to be able to see how others work, and work alongside them on something collaborative.

Vist Julia's shop at



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