Life Over Lattes: Creating Everyday Moments of Zen With Julia Sievert
There is no doubt that people come into our lives for a reason, and I could not be more thankful to have crossed paths with Julia so early on after moving to San Francisco. After having just a few conversations, it didn’t take long for me to realize there was something so special and unique about this lovely lady.
See, Julia is the breath of fresh air needed for this ‘society of busy’ we find ourselves often trapped in. Her serene spirit is the reminder we all desperately need in order to slow down, escape the everyday rat race, and enjoy this precious life we’ve been given. By leaning into her creativity, Julia has found true happiness — and most importantly — balance through art.
I cannot help but find Julia’s story so incredibly inspiring, and I am thrilled to share it with you. Her calm and tranquil soul makes me aim to become a better person — even when I’m not around her — so I hope you will find inspiration through her words, too.
Let’s get started, shall we!?
Name: Julia Sievert
Location: San Francisco, California
Before we dive deeper, let’s take a step back to rewind. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am Julia. I moved to Oakland, California 5 years ago. I grew up in Berlin, Germany, a multicultural, vibrant city with a stunning art and music scene.
Art, nature, and traveling have always played a very significant role in my life. Ever since I was a little girl I had a very strong internal longing to explore different cultures and far away countries. I have learned more about myself than anyone could have taught me. I love to express myself creatively and find happiness and balance in it. This passion of mine helped shape me to be the person I am today.
I strongly believe life is about experiences, true passion, trust, love, and believing in yourself and others. Being the best person you can be and believing in yourself isn’t always easy, but it is essential in getting where you want to be.
You studied Color Theory and Geography while in college. How do you think this educational background has shaped you as an artist? What is it about these two fields of study you find most fascinating?
This is an interesting question, as education has a very different meaning to me than, I think, it has to a lot of people. I think education contributes to the societal idea of making your passion a success. For me, education often is a by-product of making sure that you, as an individual, are being accepted as a professional in the field you would like to start a career in.
Studying color theory and geography was something I thought I needed to do in order to fit into society. While I strongly believe education is essential, and is something that should be easily accessible to everyone, my personal educational background per se hasn’t shaped me as an ‘artist.’ Instead, it has helped me understand what I don’t want out of my life, and on the other hand, what is important to me. As I said, life is all about experiences, as they can teach you more than a thousand books could.
Originally from Berlin, Germany, you moved to the States in 2013 and have since lived in San Francisco, specifically in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Oakland. What is your favorite part about living in this art infused community?
Oakland is a very special place when it comes to diversity and community. It has a strong art and music scene, just like Berlin, and people here aren’t afraid to be different. Fitting in isn’t a priority.
Oakland welcomes differences rather than trying to standardize and streamline. I have met a lot of fascinating and influential people that thrive within their community, and that is something I haven’t found anywhere else besides Oakland and my hometown.
I highly recommend taking part in the Oakland Art Murmur that happens once a month. This is an event that brings together people from all different kinds of backgrounds and cultures to enjoy art and music, eat and drink.
How do you find ways to incorporate creativity in your everyday life?
I have never felt content working with only one type of medium. I love to experiment and use different materials, and trying to make a sense of how they could – or could not – work together.
I enjoy photography, working with leather, clay, porcelain, watercolor, oil, canvas, and many more. I would like to get more into working with wood and metals. It’s fascinating to me how every medium has its very own character and you must learn how to treat and work with it.
Making art doesn’t come easy to me all the time. I have to be in the mood. I have to be inspired. I mostly spend time creating after work. Creating art is a very powerful outlet for me and often has a meditative aspect to it.
As an artist, you have dabbled in so many diverse pools of art. From painting and sketching to designing jewelry and macrame wall hangings, all the way to creating leather goods and working with clay to make ceramics — Did I miss anything!? — oh yeah, and you love to bake!
What do you find most enjoyable about creating?
Ha! Yes, I recently started to find joy in baking and cooking. I think the most enjoyable part of the baking process is the decorating aspect of it.
Creating and working with my hands helps me to shut off my brain and focus on what is in front of me. It steers me away from what was and could be. It helps me to focus on the present moment. Patience is a virtue I don’t have, so I often find it difficult to stop until a project is finished. I often catch myself starting to work on something after work, and suddenly it’s 2am. I lose my sense of time when I create.
It truly is the most powerful outlet for me.
Can you tell us more about your creative process? What are some of your favorite sources for inspiration?
Good question! I am unsure if I even know about my own creative process. I don’t think there is one, but I think that might be the beauty of it. It comes and goes. It’s like ebb and flow. I can’t really pinpoint which moments tickle my right side of my brain and make me want to create. It just happens.
I wouldn’t think of myself as the type of person who finds most inspiration online. I do enjoy browsing and looking at inspirational photos but going to museums or galleries and looking at art is probably one of my favorite sources of finding inspiration. It’s a very intimate experience to stand in front of a giant painting, imagining how and where the artist painted it. In his studio made out of brick stones with a beautiful big skylight with ivy covering the side windows? Or, in her backyard surrounded by lush forests and wild flowers?
I often find inspiration through people. My partner Peter has been playing an important role in inspiring me, encouraging me to create and the most important part, believing in me. What would we do without those people in our lives who give us a sense of belonging and connection?
Your website, Vale to Peak, where you share stories and photos of your recent travels is absolute stunning. What is it about exploring new places and immersing yourself in diverse cultures that intrigues you so much? Do you think it’s important for people to incorporate travel into their lives?
Thank you! It is difficult for me to describe in words what nature and traveling gives me. Today, we live in such a busy world, it is easy to lose that feeling of connection. Stepping onto a crowded train watching people on their phone, almost forgetting the ability to connect to people is sometimes unbearable for me.
Connection is such a big part of who I am and the life I want to live. Being in nature, surrounded by trees, the wind, birds, mountains and rivers feels so natural and easy to me.
I believe my openness to differences and diversity partially originates from being exposed to a lot of different cultures and people while growing up. I traveled a lot by myself, which was a very important experience on its own. In our society, we live a very disconnected life in our own bubble, which keeps us from seeing that our lives are much more than what we know.
Get out and explore! It will make you a better you.
Today, it can be so easy to fall down the slippery slope of comparison, especially with the internet and social media. As an artist, how do you overcome the trap of comparison anxiety?
I like that you call me an artist. What a compliment! I struggle considering myself an artist, and have always wondered at what point people define themselves as artists.
I think that comparing ourselves – or our art – to others is a harmful thing to do in the first place. Unfortunately, it’s something we all encounter every single day and it’s a difficult thing to shut down, as we’re exposed to triggers of all sorts every single day. I often see it as fighting with your fear, not letting it take over.
Understanding that we as humans and our creations are all unique in their very own ways helps to relieve the fear of failing. Life is not a competition. It’s about you and what you want to make out of your own life.
Lastly, what does creativity mean to you?
It doesn’t define me but it makes me a better me.
Thank you so much, Julia!
*all photos provided by Julia Sievert