Courtesy of Julia Maa
Learning and mastering even a single medium of art is already impressive on its own, but finding a balance between multiple forms might as well be an otherworldly ability. Yet this is just the everyday reality for illustrator, senior and animator Julia Maa.
Maa has had a great interest in illustration and animation for many years, having first started back when she was in early middle school. From that point on, her passion for her art has drastically grown and matured, to the point where you can probably find her sketching any number of subjects in a notebook in her free time.
“I first became interested in animation in sixth grade, when I was introduced to anime,” Maa said. “But I pursued it for a completely different reason—because a friend of mine seemed to breathe life into her own art.”
Though a variety of different subjects are expressed in her art, Maa particularly enjoys sketching people. Along with this affinity, she finds satisfaction in exploring many genres and aesthetics, such as steampunk.
“I really enjoy drawing people,” Maa said. “Since everyone is so different and unique, there is always something new to explore about a person. I also like the steampunk theme, and I find nineteenth century London and steampunk technology really interesting.”
Even with these established preferences for certain styles, Maa still needs some form of inspiration in order to initiate her creativity. However, WCHS’ unique community is full of diversity, so Maa rarely ever has any difficulty finding new subjects.
“I find inspiration everywhere,” Maa said. “Sometimes, it is an idea I have thought about a lot and sometimes, it is just something that happens in my daily life. I observe people and surroundings better because of art, and I hope to explore as much as I can and improve myself every day.”
Once Maa has found something to inspire her creativity, there is nothing stopping her from pouring her heart into her craft for hours on end. Her feelings and emotions toward her subject are often what truly help her to translate her thoughts into images.
“Every piece I make has a different story behind it,” Maa said. “I once spent hours on one charcoal piece about my feeling towards an argument with my best friend. It expressed my feelings of love for my friend as well as the pain in our friendship.”
With a natural talent for art, it is no surprise that Maa has entered many of her pieces into competitions. Even more impressive, however, is that many of these pieces have been recognized with awards from these competitions.
“I have participated in the Scholastic Art and Writing awards,” Maa said. “I got a Gold Key for an editorial cartoon in 2018, and this year I got a Gold Key for an editorial cartoon, a Silver Key for animation and an honorable mention for digital art. It can be stressful getting everything done and in on time, but in the end it is certainly all worth it.”
While it can be quite difficult for many artists to find the motivation and support to follow their passion for art, this is not the case for Maa. With her family always ready to support her dreams and goals, Maa is constantly looking for new pieces to create with confidence and dedication.
“My family was against it at first,” Maa said. “But they gradually started to support me after they saw how much I like art and how serious I am about it. I hope my family is proud of me for my art.”
Maa’s family members are not the only people that she finds artistic support from. She also has a great group of friends and peers who are always ecstatic to see her next masterpiece come to life.
“The emotions that Julia conveys through her art have always inspired me,” senior Maya Simon said.
“These emotions, whether sadness or joy, really touch the heart of the viewer and make them feel something they will remember.”
Thanks to dedication to honing her skills and artwork and the consistent support from her friends and family, Maa’s talents have continued to improve over the years. This personal growth has helped her to mature into a professional young artist who excels in creating dynamic pieces that are overflowing with depth and meaning.
“Julia has grown an incredible amount as an artist, and it is cool, as a friend, to watch her expand her skills and keep improving over the years,” Simon said. “Watching her grow as both an animator and illustrator has been very inspiring, and I am really proud of where she is today.”
Ultimately, wherever her passion takes her in life, Maa is sure to leave an impact on those around her with her artwork. Perhaps the greatest influence in her life is how it has positively affected her social life and helped her reach out to the WCHS community.
“I think art connects people in unexpected ways,” Maa said. “Through art, I met some really amazing people that I would have never talked to before. I hope my art will inspire others to chase their dreams and break out of their comfort zone.”