The work of artist, painter and surface designer Juliet Meeks is unmistakably vibrant and cheerful, often ranging in richly hued, exuberant florals that would surely liven up the dullest of spaces. So when she took on the task of transforming a studio space in New Orleans, LA that was anything but vibrant and cheerful — and had indoor smokers as previous tenants — she was a bit doubtful. Luckily, Juliet rents the space from family, which allowed her to do all the necessary renovations to clean out the smoke smell, remove carpet, paint, and other updates to freshen up the 850-square-foot studio.
“The space needed a good bit of work to become the studio of my dreams,” Juliet begins. “I wanted it to feel bright and open with lots of natural light, but the tan walls and carpet and tile made everything feel a lot darker. I was hoping there would be original hardwood floors underneath the carpet, but unfortunately they were not all there and the ones that were, were too damaged. I thought about a few options and decided to put down sheets of plywood and paint them white. The plywood was a cost-effective way to get nice and bright white floors, and combined with the white walls, really makes the colors in my artwork pop. Yes, the white floors get a little dirty but it is an art studio after all, so I try not to worry about it and I go ahead and get paint on the floor!”
It’s been nine months since Juliet moved into her shotgun-style unit — on the first floor of a double gallery house with Greek revival columns with four total units — in the Mid-City neighborhood of New Orleans. The community is one that fills Juliet’s cup: she’s often found walking her dog Roxy around the block and chatting with neighbors and building new relationships. Her partner Michael is a musician who runs his recording studio, Record Office Records, on the same block down the street. It’s a friendly, collaborative area for Juliet in a city that always has and continues to inform her life and work. “I grew up in New Orleans and I’ve remained in the city even through Hurricane Katrina (which hit when I was in high school) – it’s a place that inspires me with all of its colorful architecture, plants, and costumes. I’m often very work-driven, so the relaxed lifestyle of the city helps me to unwind,” she says.
With all of the updates behind her, Juliet is happily able to carry on her work designing textiles and patterns for companies like Cloud9 Fabrics, Anthropologie and Birchbox. In a way, the transformation of the studio mirrors a transformation in Juliet’s practice — it’s enabled her to dream bigger and truly envision and pursue the full potential of her work.
“It feels amazing to walk into a place where I get to paint and share my artwork with others,” Juliet begins. “Before, my studio was a small office space not really suitable for having anyone over, so to be able to have customers and friends come by in person is a dream. I am also able to paint larger paintings than I ever have, so walking into this space feels like endless possibility when it comes to making my art. In fact, painting larger paintings and working more like a ‘traditional’ artist — by painting original work in collections — is one of the main reasons I wanted to move my studio into a more practical space.” Scroll down to take in the whole transformation and see more of Juliet’s stunning work. —Kelli
Image above: “I wanted to make sure that my studio felt inviting not only to others but to myself — inspiring for me to paint in. I wanted a blank canvas for my artwork to pop and without so many visuals that I get distracted or overly influenced while painting. I kept the larger gallery room open in the center so that when I have workshops I can easily move the tables around to accommodate.”