Photographer redefines the use of photography

Julia Blaukopf found her passion for jewelry making in the dark room at the Moore College of Art and Design, where she took Saturday classes during her senior year of high school.

After graduating from University of the Arts with a bachelor of arts and science in photography in 2006, Blaukopf is now a professional photographer based out of Philadelphia who uses her artwork as a platform for social art.

Describing her photography as “ethereal art-based,” Blaukopf said she likes that her photos can seem a bit surreal and haunting.

“I love the idea of creating something that can almost be a dream,” Blaukopf said.

Blaukopf said she draws her inspiration for photography from her surroundings and places that have many layers and facades.

“Be it a landscape or a city scene or something that I just lift my head, open my eyes and it just has this feeling of a bit of mystery,” Blaukopf said

Besides creating images that speak to her soul and style, Blaukopf uses her photography to tell peoples’ stories.

“I really love working with social initiatives and providing a voice,” Blaukopf said. “It’s creating a narrative that speaks to the work someone is doing or just a simple story.”

Blaukopf has also taken her photography to a different level. Using her photos to create wallpapers, designs and jewelry, Blaukopf has developed a way to have her photos become a more permanent fixture in people’s lives.

After graduating from college, Blaukopf spent four and a half months in Ghana working with Women in Progress, a women’s empowerment organization. It was after this trip that she began using the photos she documented during those months to experiment with using packaging tape and transfers to use for jewelry.

Blaukopf continued to experiment with different canvases and fabrics to find what would work best to share her photos in the most creative ways.

Blaukopf then did a four-month residency at Oregon College of Art and Craft, focusing on creating photo-based collages and experimenting by hand with tape transfers, maps, newspapers and Japanese papers.

“It all really started in fine arts and wanting to create large scale exhibitions that could fill museums or large warehouse rooms,” Blaukopf said. “Also playing with light and windows that I could print on that would create a very ethereal feel.”

From this vision, Blaukopf decided to create more public art. Taking fine art and putting it in restaurants and other commercial places is a way for Blaukopf to blur the line between fine art and commercial-type art.

During this time Blaukopf received a grant as a visiting artist at Franz Mayer in Munich, a public art and architectural fine arts fabricator that translates art into glass and mosaic. Blaukopf became inspired to experiment with printing on tiles, glass and other ceramics.

This inspiration led Blaukopf to create kitchen tiles in New Jersey. After meeting architects from Metcalfe Architecture & Design, she was given a chance to create photo-based design work for its company, which then led to Blaukopf creating wallpaper for a restaurant.

“That’s been the biggest surprise in doing design work, which I’m now becoming much more versed in,” Blaukopf said. “Design is articulating someone else’s vision and not my own, so that was a great practice.”

Blaukopf also spent time working with Culture Works in Philadelphia this past August and worked for six months to create wallpapers with photos taken in Philadelphia.

Blaukopf has multiple projects lined up that will allow her to continue creating photo-based designs and introducing fine art to places it wouldn’t normally be found.

“As an artist I really wanted to find a way to reinvent the photograph and the way that they were seen,” Blaukopf said.

Caitlin O’Connell can be reached at Caitlin.oconnell@temple.edu.

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