Self Portrait by Julia Breckenreid for dandyhorse magazine
Julia Breckenreid is an award winning illustrator based in Toronto who also happens to love bike riding. She recently joined a project called Women Who Draw, a website featuring female artists. The sites goal is to make a directory for female illustrators in order for them to get more work since women have typically have lower representation in the industry.
Tell us about the importance of the Women Who Draw project.
I think it’s a great idea. At least three to four times a year I am asked directly or through social media if I know of any female illustrators that I could recommend. As to why this is necessary, I think I can only respond from personal experience, rather than make wide assumptions about why women’s work is not more in focus on magazine covers and other high profile jobs.
Here’s a small example. When presented with the opportunity, some of my male peers are able to speak about their work, their current jobs and recent awards loudly and often. It seems to come naturally. Raised to be “lady like” and polite, there is a part of me that worries about being seen as self-aggrandizing. To be a successful illustrator, you need to be able to promote fairly aggressively… Do you see my conundrum? I suspect other female illustrators may feel the same way - so an illustration site geared to help highlight female perspectives can only be good.
How did you become involved in the project? Were you asked or did you apply?
To be honest, I saw on Facebook that fellow illustrator Laurie Rosenwald had posted that she was now a part of the Women Who Draw site, so I followed the link to check it out!
How was it decided what works of yours would be included?
The requirements are only that you are a professional illustrator and a woman. Or someone who identifies as a woman. It’s an open directory.
What do biking and art have to do with each other?
Being outside, taking it all in - it’s so good for my head! As a bike rider you can’t be passive, and you can’t be passive as an artist either. Besides, it relaxes me, despite the cars that come too close.
How do woman and biking intersect?
Maybe it’s about having confidence, freedom.
More bike lanes makes everyone feel more safe.
Does Toronto do anything to support female artists? What can they do to improve?
I wish I knew! I am not aware of anything like this. I know of some great projects to help youth, but not specifically women.
Does biking ever inspire your art?
Yes, definitely. Seeing the city (and all the stories within) go about it’s day is something I take in with great interest from a bike or walking.
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