Don’t stop doing what you love: Julie Umerle on being a painter

    With a new exhibition opening in August at Art Bermondsey Project Space, London, Julie Umerle talks to DACS about painting in the digital age and how Payback royalties have supported her practice. 

    What made you decide to become an artist?

    I always enjoyed being creative as a child but never had any intention of becoming an artist. Within a year of leaving school, all that changed. Painting became my first love, and still is. I did not know at that point if I would ever succeed in making a career in the arts, but somehow that didn’t matter. The decision was made.

    What drew you into abstract painting?

    Abstract painting has always been something that I have responded to visually, almost as a visceral response, beyond words. I can’t imagine any other way of working that would have kept my interest over such a long period of time.

    How have digital technologies impacted your practice?

    One of the values of digital technology is that it enables artists to reach a much wider audience online than was ever possible before. Painting in the digital age makes the act of painting more special - it tends to highlight the uniqueness of painting to an even greater extent. A painting is handmade; it’s a physical object and exists on a physical plane.

    You’ve been claiming Payback royalties through DACS for a few years. What made you sign up?

    I was at a friend’s open studio five years ago when she told me about DACS, which I hadn’t heard of before, and suggested I claim Payback royalties. When I started to collate the information for my claim, I was surprised by the number of places where my work had been published.
    Each year, I put the royalties I receive towards studio rent, my biggest overhead expense. Essential and appreciated, they help me continue with my practice.

    Why is DACS important to artists?

    Often, as artists, we get caught up in trying to do everything ourselves, which is of course impossible. It’s reassuring and increasingly valuable to be able to entrust DACS with something as essential as collecting fees on our behalf.

    What are you working on at the moment?

    From 30 July – 15 October 2016, my work can be seen in a group show ‘Contemporary British Painting’ at Quay Arts, Isle of Wight. From 31 August to 10 September 2016, I have a solo exhibition of my paintings, ‘Rewind’ at Art Bermondsey Project Space in London.

    Do you have any tips for emerging artists?

    Art is a difficult career path to pursue. It always has been. Persistence usually pays off. Essentially, don’t stop doing what you love. Finding a way to sustain your practice financially is often the biggest problem, as well as finding the time to make artwork when there are so many other demands on your time.

    ‘Julie Umerle: Rewind’ is showing at Art Bermondsey Project Space, London from 31 August until 10 September 2016. Find out more.

    Learn more about Payback
    Browse Julie Umerle’s work on Artimage


    Image: DACS member Julie Umerle in her studio. Photo © Brian Benson,

    Posted on 08/08/2016 by Laura Ward-Ure