There are two sides to Julie Kanapaux’s work. There’s what she calls the “spontaneous, organic, free-form” approach she takes to painting, in which she makes random marks, often inspired by nature, and adds to them in an unconscious, unplanned way. Then there’s her work as a commercial graphic designer—studied, deliberate pieces shaped on the computer and used in advertising or as decor. As she has gotten older, she says, “Those two worlds have slowly started to meld.”
Today, Kanapaux’s practice blends traditional painting techniques with high-tech digital manipulation. Her work can be seen on gallery walls, in public murals and even on tank tops and fanny packs.
To create one of her most recognizable works, a large abstract mural for the library at her alma mater, Ringling College of Art and Design, she designed panels on her computer that were then printed on huge strips of vinyl and attached to the library’s walls with blowtorches. In that piece, and in most others, she uses bright, dynamic colors, and layers together what look like random splotches of paint with more defined, recognizable shapes.
“What I love about art is there’s no end point,” Kanapaux says. “There’s no top of the mountain. What you can make is infinite.” Kanapaux calls herself a “total control freak” and a “type A personality” who has trouble letting go. Art provides an outlet. “That’s what I’ve always been attracted to,” she says. “It’s been this vent where there are no rules.”