We had the good fortune of connecting with Julie Kitzes and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Julie, is there something you believe many others might not?
The biggest conventional advice I hear is the notion that if you just work hard enough and hustle you will be successful. This comes from the idea of the American dream and that equal opportunity is available to anyone with the proper work ethic, but it’s simply not true. Though effort and perseverance are definitely big factors in achieving one’s goals for success, it’s often overlooked how big of an impact things like race, gender, socioeconomic status, and disability have on creating an un-even playing field. Though people can overcome these obstacles and still be successful, it takes a lot more work when you’re starting out with less of an advantage, and whether born with privilege or not, success is often equally hinged on opportunity, timing, social connections, and sheer luck. This is not to say, “give up”, but rather to encourage others to not be so hard on themselves if they’re not yet where they want to be, and to certainly not compare ourselves to other “successful” individuals who have all had completely different circumstances and life experiences.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’ve been told that what sets me apart from others is my attention to detail and the specificity of my work. If I’m illustrating a made-up figure, they’re bound to have unique characteristics and quirks rather than being generic. A big percentage of my work up till now has been pet portraits, and I always try to incorporate as much of the animal’s personality and unique details as I can – whether it be based on a cute story the pet parent has told me about them or a stray whisker that’s out of place in every photo. I’m still not where I want to be professionally, and the road to this point has been bumpy and full of obstacles, but I’m utilizing every resource I can find and exploring many avenues to get there. I’ve lived with a chronic illness for a number of years which makes life in general quite difficult, and finding a sense of balance between creative projects, day to day life, and managing my health and self care has been a continual battle that I’m slowly making progress with.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
There are so many things I love about Colorado, I can’t even think of everything, but here’s a few: First we’d check out Luis Jiménez’s Blue Mustang sculpture (AKA “Blucifer”) at the Denver airport because that thing is bizarre and amazing in so many ways. There would certainly be some hiking and adventuring involved. A few of my favorite spots are the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, Guanella Pass in Georgetown, and Mount Evans where you’re always bound to see some incredible wildlife. Just please admire from a distance and don’t stress or interfere with nature. We’d probably eat at Sam’s No. 3 diner a few times because they’re amazing and with such a huge menu it’s hard to get bored of their food. The Naked French Canadian Swiss Melt is to die for.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many people that have been instrumental in my development as an artist. My husband Peter, my best friend and fellow artist Samantha Pascavis, and my mother in law Marjorie are consistent sources of support, love, and encouragement. All of the clients and individuals who have ever commissioned something from me or bought a piece of my work have given me the confidence and monetary support to keep going. Some of the illustration instructors I had in college – Dave Collins, Hugh Alexander, Cherish Flieder, and Benjamin Hummel – were all enormous sources of guidance and mentorship. And of course my cat Roger for keeping my calm and sane throughout everything.

Website: www.juliekitzes.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/juliekitzes

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