Nello studio di Julia Wertz

We visited Julia Wertz’s studios, not just one, as she explained: «These are all the spaces in which I worked on my latest book, Tenements, Towers & Trash: An Unconventional, Illustrated History of New York City. The book took me two years to make, and I moved across the country in the middle of working on it».

1WertzNYC
NYC – My Greenpoint, Brooklyn home studio of 10 years. The started the book here in 2015.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m about to start working on the second half of a book I started over 6 years ago. It’s about a few years in NYC when I was really struggling with my drinking, and my subsequent discovery of urban exploring (exploring abandoned places). I shelved it to work on other stuff, like comics about NYC history, that eventually became Tenements, Towers & Trash.

Napa- my childhood attic bedroom at my mom’s house in Northern California. It was basically a storage space I crammed two desks into.
Napa – My childhood attic bedroom at my mom’s house in Northern California. It was basically a storage space I crammed two desks into.

Which instruments/tools do you use to draw?

For all my work, I pencil with mechanical pencils or Blackwing pencils. But inking is different. When I ink my comics, I just use Microns, but when I ink the cityscapes, I use a Platinum Carbon nib pen. I draw on Strathmore heavyweight paper. I’ve never found an eraser I love, but I’m always on the hunt. I use photoshop to clean up art and arrange text, but that’s it. I have nothing against tablets, I just don’t like using them.

Macdowell- I spent awhile at the MacDowell Colony (an artist residency) in New Hampshire in the summer of 2016. This was my cabin/studio/home for over a month.
Macdowell – I spent awhile at the MacDowell Colony (an artist residency) in New Hampshire in the summer of 2016. This was my cabin/studio/home for over a month.

Do you have any peculiar habits or routines before starting to draw?

Just my regular morning routine of coffee, breakfast, reading the news. I have to do those three things or my whole day is shot. These days I try to do about half an hour of yoga before I get to work, since the way I sit while I draw is horrible, and my back hurts more the older I get. So I’m trying to minimize that damage and be more aware of how I hold my body. I’m getting old and creaky, I gotta stretch it out.

Colorado At the end of 2016, I sequestered myself in a shed studio in Boulder, Colorado, for two months, working 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, to ensure I would make my deadline. (I did not, but it all worked out.)
Colorado – At the end of 2016, I sequestered myself in a shed studio in Boulder, Colorado, for two months, working 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, to ensure I would make my deadline. (I did not, but it all worked out.)

Do you have books or comic books you keep close by when you draw?

For inspiration purposes, I usually have a Gabrielle Bell book nearby, or maybe something by Lisa Hanawalt or Vanessa Davis. I like all kinds of graphic novels but ladies hwo do funny autobio stuff will always be my favorite.

Washington- I finished the final pages of the book at the Sou’Wester in Washington, as part of the Short Run comics residency.
Washington – I finished the final pages of the book at the Sou’Wester in Washington, as part of the Short Run comics residency.

Are there certain objects in your studio which you’re particularly attached to?

Back when I lived in Greenpoint, my studio was basically a museum, and I had deep attachments to a lot of things in it. I thought the items themselves meant a lot to me, but after I put them in storage, I realized it was jus the story around how I acquired the idems that was important. (It was all stuff I found while exploring abandoned places) So now I don’t really bother having special things in my studio, I just keep around what is necessary. But there are a few coffee mugs that I have that are meaningful- but again, only because of who gave them to me, or how I acquired them. As much as I love STUFF, I’ve become very detached from it all after moving around and traveling a lot ever since I left NYC. That’s not to say I won’t someday be super happy to get my stuff out of storage, I just realized I can get along fine without it in the meantime.

 Boyes Hot Springs- my home studio where I live now, where I did all the PR planning for the book, so it counts. Note the stark contrast between the first and last spaces I worked in. I was deeply rooted in NYC, and now I’m living a more transitory life. Someday I’ll have a crazy, cluttered studio again, but it’ll probably be many years before that happens.
Boyes Hot Springs – My home studio where I live now, where I did all the PR planning for the book, so it counts. Note the stark contrast between the first and last spaces I worked in. I was deeply rooted in NYC, and now I’m living a more transitory life. Someday I’ll have a crazy, cluttered studio again, but it’ll probably be many years before that happens.