There's an old saying that "it's a man's world." But if we look at our surroundings today, we'll see that more and more of our world was designed and built by women like Julia Gamolina.
Julia started her creative journey as a woman in a male-dominated field; architecture. While working to create beautiful spaces, she identified a need to uplift and give voice to women like her. Julia is now the Editor in Chief of Madame Architect and Director of Strategy at Trahan Architects.
We sat down with Julia to discuss her multi-faceted creative endeavors, her personal style, and more.
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What does the title “creator” mean to you, and how did you come to identify with that moniker?
A creator is someone who brings elements together to put something new into the world, which can be both tangibly and conceptually. I came to identify with this title through two stages of my career, the first being my work in architectural design, through creating new spaces and buildings, and the second being starting Madame Architect, and online magazine about, for, and by the other amazing women who shape our world.
What was your “aha” moment – the catalyst for you to commit to this as a creative path?
The first was the decision to study architecture, which was really a gradual process but was a great fit for me as I knew that the study of architecture would bring together all those things I was fascinated by – drawing, and learning about people, places, and their histories. The second “aha” moment came out of my love for writing and my desire for mentorship! I had been looking to reintegrate writing into my career as a designer, and I realized that a fulfilling and meaningful way to do that for me would be to publish interviews with my mentors. That was definitely an “aha” moment; I’ll never forget walking home through Bryant Park after a particularly invigorating conversation with an early mentor of mine, and the thought coming into my head then.
What does creating feel like to you? What is your physical and emotional experience like during a project?
I love this question! Creating is all-consuming for me; there have been many all-nighters, through both the later years of high school (with both art and writing projects), my years in architecture school, and with various Madame Architect launches, because you become so engrossed in pushing something you love to the finish, that you just keep going. I certainly don’t recommend all-nighters and this is not a habit of mine anymore, but I certainly find that state of “flow” that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a Hungarian-American psychologist focused on the study of happiness and creativity, writes about.
How do you know a work is complete?
[Laughs] I’m not sure creators really ever consider their work complete. For me personally, sometimes its complete when I absolutely have to move on to get other things done. Deadlines are helpful for me in this way, both self and externally imposed. Otherwise, another way to think about it is that a work is complete when all of your priorities for it have been addressed. You always strive to create something that has significant impact, and that does as much as possible, but you have to remind yourself that the work doesn’t have to do absolutely everything, or be for everyone. So, when you focus on what’s most important for it to do and be, you can call it done when those elements have been rigorously pushed to the extent that you can.
How do your creative principles inform your personal wardrobe, and vice versa?
My wardrobe definitely has two personalities – one for production and one for relaxation [laughs]. I first wanted to say that the two are for work and play, but work is play! And work is life! So, my wardrobe for production is informed by my creative principles in that its pretty streamlined – focused if you will – and polished, but always with a twist. The twist can be in the collar and sleeve detail, the hardware of the pieces, or in the accessories I add. For relaxation, I’m the complete opposite and love fun colors and fabrics and silhouettes. I would say my personal wardrobe then in turn influences my creative principles by reminding me to focus on what’s most important – with clothing, I tend to focus on what the best fit is for my body type and highlight those certain features, and really, it’s the same with my work!
What’s your most universal piece of advice for people who want to live more creatively?
Pay attention to and absorb as much as you can. Look out the window when you’re in a rideshare, instead of looking at your phone. Notice the people around you on the subway, at the park. Read. Everything can inform your creativity, and the world is so big, that you can never stop finding something new if you just pay attention.