The Voices of Cayman’s Endless Summer
Introducing…Kara Julian, Decorative Artist
Kara Julian’s artwork is a familiar feature at our Beach House. From her captivating murals that adorn our walls both inside and outside of the hotel, to her gorgeous chalkboard art – her creative presence is felt everywhere. We love collaborating with her!
With a passion for art, she began her career as a decorative artist back in 1997; choosing to specialize in hand-painted glassware and functional home accessory pieces. Over the years, her portfolio grew to include even more fun and magnificent works of art as she explored new artistic directions. A self-proclaimed Jack-Of-All-Trades, she does everything from murals and chalkboard signs to teaching high school art.
Here we speak to Kara about what she loves about living in Cayman, her fondest summer memories and the love of her life.
Kara was born and raised in West Bay – her mom is from Grand Cayman and her father, born in Cuba, was raised in Cayman Brac. She tells us how much she loves how Cayman is a small community and very family-orientated: “Basically everyone knows each other here and we sort of look out for one another. Living in Cayman, the saying that it takes a village to raise a child is something that really resonates! Having said that, there is a huge difference from when I was growing up to present day. The population has grown tremendously. The landscape has also changed significantly. The childhood experience from when I was a kid to what my son gets to experience now, is very different. Yes, we still have the beaches but having panoramic and uninterrupted views of the beach is no longer the case. As a child I spent a lot of hours and days on Seven Mile Beach!”
When asked what her fondest memory is of a summer’s day in her childhood, she admits that there are many. She says: “Growing up in Cayman, summertime is very hot, and of course we spent our days at the beach and in the water – if you ask anyone that grew up here, that is their story too. Many summer stories are going to be identical because there wasn’t a whole lot to do here in comparison to bigger cities. But because of the climate, everything was about the beach. Everyone congregated at the beach! We would come out with friends and family to have barbecues. If it was mango season, we would be at the beach with bags full of ripe mangoes. There is just something about salt water and mango together! It's sort of a Cayman tradition – for any child that grew up in Cayman, because you will hear that story repeated over and over. We would just jump in the ocean with our mangoes and peel and eat them right there. This fun and messy pastime, is something I hope to share and relive with my son this summer.”
When asked to explain what she does for a living, she describes lightheartedly: “I am a decorative artist, but I like to call myself a “Jack-Of-All-Trades” but not necessarily a Master of them all! Being the creative person that I am, I am always finding new areas to explore. For instance, my chalkboard art happened as a happy accident that actually started right here at the Marriott. A few years back, I was commissioned to paint rum bottles for a local distillery and the hotel was one of their clients. When the Marriott received one of my hand-painted bottles, the Director of Food & Beverage made some inquiries as to who the artist was, because as it turned out, he liked my penmanship and it inspired a great idea. I was then put in touch with the hotel and was asked to re-do one of their menus. The rest is history! But that is how it all began with the hotel. A simple chalkboard menu, and four years later here I am; creating signs and menus on a regular basis! Now, every time I walk through the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort, it is as though I'm in a showroom of my art. It is a great opportunity and I appreciate the continuous support from the hotel”
Kara’s trajectory over the last few years is the perfect example of how her art has evolved. When asked what her newest venture involves, she says that she spends a lot of her time teaching. She elaborates: “Teaching is not something that I anticipated ever doing, in fact it was not something that appealed to me. The prospect of teaching was presented to me when I was still in college back in 1996. Someone told me that I was going to be a teacher and I laughed at the thought. I was not interested! Fast forward 17+ years and here I am teaching today. I have taught middle and high school art at Grace Christian Academy for 4 years and I now focus my time teaching my own ‘Sip and Paint’ classes at my art studio. This excites me because it allows me to network. My social life has somewhat slowed down a bit, but I now get to enjoy the best of both worlds by teaching and networking in a social setting. It is so much fun! Plus, I get to create art everyday! I am always creating something! And of course working with the Marriott, there is always a project to do. When the Marketing team comes to me with an idea, it is often a fun challenge that forces me to think outside of the box when creating design concepts.”
Kara goes on to talk about about her partnership with the Beach House. She explains: “Getting to collaborate with the Marketing team for the ‘Kinship 2018: A Year To Get Consciously Cozy’ project was a lot of fun. It was great being able to see the whole idea take shape. I think it is wonderful that you guys come up with a different theme every year. It is something to get excited about and everything evolves around that particular theme. It makes people gravitate to the hotel – everyone loves a good story. With there being a program of activities that are all tied together, it becomes a must-do. I think last year’s theme ‘Awakening 2017: A Year with Intention’, garnered a tremendous amount of attention and the mural I created for you was, probably one of my most photographed pieces!"
She adds: “This year’s theme of Kinship and cherishing the simple joys in life is really appropriate for me as well because before I got involved with the Marriott on this project, this was what I was reevaluating in my own life. Last year I worked my bum off and I spent more time on my business then I did the years before. It was taxing and there were a lot of sacrifices and hard work. Of course the symptoms of that affected my family and my relationship with my son. I was spending so much of my time working that my family took a back seat. So this year I am dedicating more time for them. So the theme of Kinship was perfect timing as I do need to slow down a bit, embrace the simple pleasures and reevaluate what my priorities are.”
When asked what her current state of mind is, you can see the excitement on Kara’s face. She elaborates: “I am excited because I get to live and be creative where some people only get to vacation. I am also happy with the progression of where I want to be in life and the dreams that I am pursuing and realizing. I worked in the Financial Industry for 17+ years and my art had to take a back seat. So to be able to dive in, head first into my passion and letting that be my career focus is amazing. It was scary – I didn’t have an iron clad business plan. I made the decision to quit my day job four years ago and to describe the experience - I jumped off that "cliff" without a parachute and built a plane on the way down. I am now seeing it all come together despite the initial challenges and I realize that all the sacrifices were not made in vain. So I will continue to grow and aim for the next level. Glass painting is where I got my start – I have been doing it since 1997, but everything else, all the other amazing ventures, just seemed to evolve from there. Happy accidents occur as they they are meant to. Where one door closed, another opened. In fact, I had to learn to accept that there are always going to be other opportunities. If something or an idea didn't materialize, it does not necessarily mean that is the end of the road. You have to be open to embracing other opportunities...have an open mind, go with the flow, discover another side of you that you never knew existed. This is the case with my chalkboard art and the teaching. Again,these are areas that I was not expecting to ever dabble in, but I'm glad I did. I admittedly, used to obsess about having everything come together the way I had planned and envisioned. Today however, I accept that if it doesn’t happen it wasn’t meant to be...for now. I am at a happy place in life, because I get to do what I love. Sometimes my son asks if I ever get tired of creating and I tell him that I don’t know how else to be. I really don’t!”
When asked who is the greatest love of her life, it is no surprise that it is her son. She gushes: “It is amazing what he teaches me everyday as we navigate life and all of it's challenges and amazing experiences together. Parenthood is a difficult and yet very rewarding roll, in which I learn something new everyday. My son is 12 years old, and I've watched with both frustration and fascination as his personality continues to develop; with his likes and dislikes changing from month to month. As he grows into the person he is meant to be (hopefully a creative like his mom), I have learned to cherish the growth process. I realize just how much we impart on these young and impressionable minds. In fact, I am starting to see a little bit of myself in him with the way he handles certain situations or how he uses critical thinking. He is certainly the love of my life and my greatest accomplishment!”
Finally, when asked what Kara’s idea of happiness is, it just makes perfect sense that it involves spending more time with her family. She concludes: “I would like to take more time off and step back from work and all the demands of life. Just take some quality family time to reconnect; doing the things that we haven’t done before. Regardless of what we do, the important focus is to enjoy the experience and our time together. Life is not guaranteed – tomorrow is not guaranteed. So it is just being in the moment with the people that matter. To me, that is perfect happiness; to just be.”
We love watching Kara shine at our Beach House. For her, the sky’s the limit to where she will find inspiration!