How 100 days helped change a local graphic designer to a full-time artist

“That’s what I encourage other people to do, too, when they’re like, ‘I don’t know where to start,’” Meeks said. “Just start with something — it can be really small — but then it will snowball for you.”

by Chelsea Brasted
July 4, 2019

When Juliet Meeks looked to create her new studio on Canal Avenue, with its high ceilings and sweeping sense of clarity and calm, she wanted to make sure it offered her a comfortable space in which to create.

But she got there by making herself get outside her comfort zone.

“I feel like it may seem like it comes easy, but I’m always trying to push myself because I know, in the back of my mind, one day I’m going to tackle that fear,” the New Orleans artist said. “Maybe it’s not today, but it’s going to happen, so I take small steps to get there.”

Meeks, an artist whose work often includes cozy, colorful botanicals and cheerful patterns, has carved out a business for herself that relies on three things: Art-making, licensing her designs for various products and educating others. Her hustle has led to partnerships with brands like Anthropologie and Birchbox.

“I just didn’t grow up thinking you can make a living as a full-time artist, so it just took me years to get to that mindset,” Meeks said.

Meeks got her start as a graphic designer, working in-house with the team behind Gambit, and though she always thought she might want to run her own business one day, it wasn’t until she turned 25 that she realized how quickly she’d reach for that goal.

“There was something about turning 25 that felt like a really big deal,” she laughed. “I felt like, OK, I need to start seriously pursuing my passions.”

Meeks took a business plan class at Delgado Community College, which, along with some time spent dabbling in logo and brand development, steered her toward envisioning what her own project could look like.

“I got over (logo design) pretty quickly and decided I just needed to do what I really wanted to do, and that was making patterns and making artwork,” she said.

Meeks used Instagram to push herself to get there. By tackling her own 100 Day Project, which is an endeavor in which artists commit to exploring a certain project for 100 straight days, Meeks ended up with 100 watercolor patterns. That experiment not only gave her the confidence in painting with the medium, but it gave her a body of work with which to make her own products to show clients.

“It helped me find my style,” Meeks said.

It also helped her get noticed. A blogger picked up on what Meeks was creating, and her Instagram was featured on Design Sponge. Today, she has more than 17,000 followers.

Meeks has used other Instagram-focused design challenges to help her push forward, though now she’s formalized that education a bit more with an abstract class at the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts. All of it helps her to stay motivated to find new ways to imagine her work and potential partnerships.

In the coming months, Meeks will unveil new projects, including an astrology fabric line with Paintbrush Studio Fabrics and a series of small paintings on paper for Amanda Louise Interiors’ Campbell Collective as Meeks seeks a space in interior design.

And she got there by first taking those small steps.

“That’s what I encourage other people to do, too, when they’re like, ‘I don’t know where to start,’” Meeks said. “Just start with something — it can be really small — but then it will snowball for you.”

Chelsea Brasted is a New Orleans-born journalist and a West Banker by choice. She most recently served as The Times-Picayune's city columnist. You can follow Chelsea's work on Twitter and Facebook, and you can contact her through her website, ChelseaBrasted.com.

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