Full of authentic texture and detail, Brighton-based artist Julia Trigg collects vintage ephemera - from old transport tickets and stamps to sheet music covers and antique etchings - and uses it to create richly coloured, contemporary fine art prints and collages.
Julia has exhibited at prestigious London art fairs and has had work published internationally as posters and greetings cards. Unable to bear cutting up the original ephemera, Julia scans the items, capturing all the original qualities and imperfections. She then constructs playful contemporary compositions.
Join us as we step into Julia's world and dig beneath the layers of these fantastic textures, colours and intriguing snippets of text and image.
Yes, always drawing and making things. When I was a very young child, my mum worked for a toymaker – Miss Cranfield, who was taught by Henry Moore. Her workshop was in the attic of her huge Victorian house in Wimbledon, full of antiques and oil paintings, straight out of a Dickens novel. I’d be given scraps of fabric, fur, a needle and thread and she taught me how to sew. I would make little animals while my mum worked.
At age 9 we moved to Hampshire, near Portsmouth. I don’t think the coast influenced my work, but it showed me there was a whole new world to explore outside of London.
I did a foundation course at Portsmouth Art College, age 16. This was a revelation to me, to be taught painting, ceramics, 3D design, photography and graphics. I went on to study a graphic design degree at Brighton and a Masters at the Royal College of Art in London. I remember clearly Harold Cohen teaching us composition at Brighton, it was the first time I’d tried collage and I was excited with the results. The degree course taught me to ‘think outside the box’ and communicating an idea was key. There were no digital cameras or computers back then. A key moment in art history lectures was learning about the Bauhaus. A trip to see the Robert Opie Museum of vintage packaging was inspirational. Margaret Calvert ran the Masters course, I remember lecturers Bobby Gill and Philip Thompson telling me I should be on the illustration course!
Some early drawings age 15
I was a graphic designer for 25 years and enjoyed working in corporate identity best. But I’ve always done my own illustration work alongside, and for a while had a greetings card business. I started making my ephemera prints in 2008, exhibiting them at the Artists Open House festival in Brighton, and have gradually become a full time artist. I haven’t done a graphic design project for around 5 years, as it became too stressful.
Victorian Eccentric Greeting Cards by Julia Trigg, 1995
I like the idea of travelling round Europe in a campervan and collecting vintage graphics and running a junk shop. Teaching kids art would be rewarding I think. A musician, but I don’t have the talent for it!
I usually eat breakfast while answering emails and checking out Instagram, then start work at about 10am. Up until a couple of weeks ago I’d include a dog walk, but sadly our dog has just passed away. Family commitments mean it can be a juggling act, but generally I work until about 5 or 6pm. If I have a deadline or am feeling inspired I work in the evening sometimes.
Colour matching has to be done in good daylight. Creative ideas often come late at night when it’s totally peaceful. One idea leads to another, I get inspired and just have to sketch it, or try it out on the computer. Then I work the ideas up the next day.
I work in the attic, with views across Brighton and the South Downs.
It depends on what I’m doing. I find it distracting when I’m thinking/creating, but other times I either put on a Spotify playlist, or the radio.
Vintage ephemera, iMac (Photoshop plus InDesign for quick layouts), Wacom tablet & pen, scanner, Epson giclée printer & cotton rag paper, paints, inks, pencils, brushes, paper for sketching and making endless lists.
Vintage type book
They say one person’s junk is another person’s treasure… To create something new and inspiring from old discarded ephemera, I find exciting. I am drawn to vintage typography and graphic illustrative devices, with authentic, worn, imperfect textures. I love colour and experimenting with colour combinations. Playing with positive and negative spaces and the contrast between delicate or intricate designs and bolder graphic shapes. Cropping and juxtaposing, creating abstract details to form contemporary compositions.
I make designs that please me, influenced by my graphic design background.
A cliché, but I get most excited about the next piece of work I’m doing.
Kurt Schwitters, Ben Nicholson, Sir Peter Blake, Eduardo Paolozzi, Rosalie Gascoigne, Rex Ray, Paul Klee, Barbara Hepworth and graphic designers Saul Bass, Herbert Leupin and Sister Corita Kent to name a few.
William LaChance, Martin O’Neill, Holly Chastain, Sue Williams-A’Court, Jessica Ford, Louise Fili (typography) and many more.
I have some of mine hanging up, as it saves storing it! Also for example, vintage shop letters, a bus destination blind, a typesetters tray full of shells, pop art prints, old American number plates, a box frame sculpture by Paula Dyer…
Plan chest and collection of ephemera
Sister Corita Kent at Ditchling Museum.
I’m grateful to have a career doing what I love, so hopefully I’ll still be doing it. A tidy house, established garden and better work-life balance would be great too!
I would like to work on a series of original 'one-off' collages, exhibiting them would be fab. I’d also like to paint, or include some painting in my work.
My solo exhibition at Castor & Pollux in Brighton. Meeting and chatting to customers who love my prints. Having work chosen for international commercial publications. Having an exclusive range published by King & McGaw.
Finding your audience. Finding your voice. Covid has meant some projects have been cancelled, but I’m lucky I can connect with customers online.
Obsessive. More ideas than time.
Rosalie Gasgoine had her first exhibition age 57, so there’s always time and hope. Practice your skills, experiment, talk to other artists, create art you are passionate about. To evaluate work, I find it helps to leave it a couple of days and then go back to it. “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working” – Picasso.
In hindsight, I think it was David Anstis (my best friend’s dad), who told me to do an art degree. At age 17, I didn’t realize it was something I could achieve. And my mum, always encouraging, who tells me often ‘don’t worry so much’.
What worries me is the global problem it’s creating with energy consumption, to store all the data, it feels out of control. It is inspiring to see other artists' work. I dabble with Instagram, but need to learn how to use it more effectively. I love Pinterest, it’s a great way to make mood boards.
Julia with one of her favourite works, 'Woodside New York'