Juliette Hamilton on how to become a successful full-time artist

Juliette Hamilton on how to become a successful full-time artist

Manchester-based sculptor Juliette Hamilton is the tirelessly industrious human you’d dearly like to be. I’d be surprised if she has ever uttered the word ‘procrastination’ in her life. As I interview her, she doggedly irons clothes ready for her holiday to New York tomorrow, but still finds time to fill me in on her incredibly inspiring life as an artist and how she accidentally got there.

Juliette makes a living creating realistic animal sculptures out of willow and other mediums for clients ranging from green-fingered locals to Hollyoaks, the BBC, and Bollywood films. Her creations stand proudly in museums, heritage centers, halls, gardens, farms, galleries and festivals all across the UK and beyond. As well as doing commissions, she also coordinates three weaving workshops a week and sells her wares at fairs and events throughout the year.

You may ask how does can she possibly get so much done? The secret is her lifestyle. And two pints of tea every morning.

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Juliette wakes at 5:30am everyday like a songbird, and gets straight to work creating sculptures from her studio at the bottom of her garden. Powered by a questionable amount of caffeine, she weaves for a minimum of ten hours a day, six days a week. It’s no wonder she has an strict no-work-on-holiday policy, though she insists that her routine and the process of creating is very enjoyable. “I don’t feel like I’m working at all, it never feels like a chore. Many people who go to my workshops comment “time just disappears” – and it’s true! It’s often a very therapeutic process.”

Despite being very happy with her lifestyle as a sculptor, Juliette remarks that becoming a full time artist was purely accidental.

After being cajoled into joining a weaving workshop by a persuasive friend, Juliette discovered a knack for the craft that soon attracted the attention of local art buyers. Everything snowballed from there. She says: “to be honest I had no intention to do this for a living but it crept up on me […] It took a few years to realize that that’s what I was doing for a living now – that creating sculptures was now my full time job.”

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Currently Juliette is creating stock for the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair and working on a shire horse commissioned by the Manchester council – one of her most challenging projects to date.

The horse, which will stand proudly next to the canal in an effort to rejuvenate the walkway, is reinforced by a metal skeleton – unlike the wood that Juliette usually uses to fortify her sculptures. She says this is so that the horse can be remade when the willow eventually biodegrades, with the added benefit of being able to withstand the weight of a human incase any cheeky visitor fancies a horse ride.

After half an hour discussing the perils of ironing and the joys of a creative life with Juliette, it’s difficult not to feel more motivated by her. Perhaps not wake-up-at-5am motivated. But I’m definitely game for drinking 2 pints of tea before noon. How about you?

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See more sculptures from Juliette on her website here

This article is part of my artist feature series, showcasing the work of professional UK-based artists I admire. Let us know what you think below!

– Karis

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