Candace Arroyo

MEET Juli Bolaños-Durman

Candace Arroyo
MEET Juli Bolaños-Durman

Emerging Costa Rican Artist & Designer based in Scotland with a background in Graphic Design, mixed media and recent immersion into the glass material. This specific set of experiences give Juli a fresh and versatile vision when approaching research and the creative process by repurposing found objects and transforming them into precious artifacts that tell a story.

Juli creates raw pieces that are put together intuitively through the joyfulness of play, explore the different ideas to provoke the boundaries of what is art and its meaning and invite the viewer to become part of the journey.


Mini CV: Winner of Jerwood Makers Open 2017, the ELLE DECORATION British Design Awards 2015- ECO DESIGN CategoryAwarded Exceptional Talent (Promise) Visa endorsed by the Arts Council UK, Inches Carr Scottish Craft Award 2017, and her work is included in the collection of Museum of Contemporary Design and Applied Arts (MUDAC) Collection. Lausanne, CH. & Chancellor’s Fellowship Award Commission, UK.


1.      What was your first introduction to art/design; a family member, something you saw or read?

I can distinctly remember having a really hard time going from pre-kinder to first grade because the focus drastically shifted from playing and drawing all day to officially spending most of the school hours learning how to read and write. From that moment on I realized that I have an affinity for expressing myself visually and instantly, art classes became my favorite subject.

I felt the need to understand my surroundings by interacting of the materials around me. As a kid, I would spend many hours playing in the garden with all of my cousins. This is where we came up with new interpretations based on wonder and directed by curiosity.



2.     I think that consciously or sub-consciously it helps shape what path we ultimately take in the future, so after your first introduction to art were you aware that this was something you wanted to do as a profession?

I always knew I wanted to be an artist. Not quite sure how much I grasped about it as a career path, but for me, being an artist was more about pursing this instinctual drive to express and create with my hands. At the time, I knew this was part of my identity and now know its the only way how I understand the world around me.


3.     How did discarded glass objects become the inspiration for your artwork?

When doing research for my project ‘The Made-Up Museum of Artefacts', I came across the fact that the Maori Civilization believed objects had a soul, just like us. This validated my need to attribute human characteristics to inanimate objects and it pushed me further into fostering an imaginary conversation with the found pieces. I am drawn to objects that look a bit lost and that are looking to reinvent themselves; and I have been chosen by them to facilitate this transformation to fulfill their potential.

I see myself as a translator between the found items and their new identity. I ask them what they want to be when they grow up, and I flow in the process to transform them into their most authentic self and invite the viewer to pursue theirs as well.

I am particularly drawn to the materiality of glass because I love that you can fix the material and transform it into something new. If its scratched or broken by using various cold working processes, it can be cut in different ways and integrate it with another one to create a new interpretation.


4.     Since you work with “imperfect” discarded glass, how do you decide when your work is completed, “perfect”?

In my opinion, the concept of ‘perfect’ cannot coexist when we are talking about creativity, it is too much of a daunting concept that ends up hindering potential and most importantly, authenticity. But I can say that when a piece has reached its best version of itself, it is like magic- it just works. I personally pay attention that the color combination and that the proportions are balanced. When these are in check, that gut reaction tells me its ready and then I take a step back to fully appreciate.

I love this brilliant Edmund de Waal excerpt from his book The Hare with Amber Eyes- ‘Be careful, he would say, of the unwarranted gesture: less is more…’For me this quote not only applies to when developing work, I think is is sound advice when tackling any aspect of life.


5.     Do you have an idea of what you want to create before your search for the right glass vessels, or do you wait to see what your glass findings make you feel?

I usually collect found glass that I am drawn to, it can either be because of their shape, color or texture and keep them sometimes for years. When I have enough pieces, I start to interact directly with them in the studio and flow in the process. Having the chance to react to this moment and be present, that is when the magic happens. For me this is the most exciting time, because by leaning into the discomfort of not knowing what is going to happen, I only have faith that the process will lead me to where I need to be in this particular moment in time.


6.     I think your work is very specific and unique, do you design mainly for yourself or do you have an audience in mind?

When it comes to my artistic practice, my gut instinct, visual archives, travels, inspiring conversations/ people, books, etc. are the ones that mold the outcome. I think that the process has to be instinctual, vulnerable and spontaneous for the work to be genuine. And if I am successful, this means that I have connected to this universal human experience that many people can relate to.

When I do design collaborations with companies, I start by doing research according to the brief requirements, research their core values as a brand and see which similarities and distinctive facts arise. From there on, I let myself be guided by the key words to design for the client and develop the project to create something unique and fresh.


7.      Do you ever think of producing a collection for consumers that has more of a commercial/ mainstream appeal?

Yes. I have identified that the ways in which I want to push my Portfolio Practice without sacrificing my core values, so I have started to sell some of the my expressive mixed-media drawings made in my studio as part of my visual exploration. With this series, I want to invite the younger collector to be able to start participating and fostering a relationship over time.


8.     As a creative I’m sure you get mental blocks about what you should do next, how do you get “unstuck” creatively?

I let myself interact with the materials I have in front of me even if it is for 5 minutes, this could be sketch with pen and paper or smudge colorful acrylic and make textures to name a few. But it needs to be something that gives me joy, and this will be different for everybody. For me lately, I’ve been drawn to create patterns using line repetition with a particular pen which slides when it touches the paper and it is the best feeling. For you might be writing Haikus, putting together an excel document or categorizing your closet by colors.

I call these ‘Quick Projects’ and these are characterized by composing without any restrictions and by letting creativity flow without sabotaging one’s intuition. By allowing the mind to access the creative process judgment-free, the pressure is off and this is when play provokes the creation of new ideas. Throughout this process, observation aids a better understanding of the work proposed and promotes the discovery of an unlimited and continuous source of new ideas. Consequently, these are the starting points for my work.

Recently I have started to push this as a workshop called ‘Creative Play: Unlimited Source of New Ideas’. As we grow older, sometimes the disconnection to your childlike playful side gets a bit lost and it is important to allow ourselves to take the time to play and connect to that joyful instinct to foster this relaxing feeling. Its like when you are on the phone and start doodling. This is the creative muscle talking through you in its most authentic way because there aren’t any judgments. So we need to exercise this often to cultivate ideas and be refreshed by connecting to this source of joy.


9.     What is something that you want the person reading this to know about you, that they otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to know or see, just from viewing your pieces?

I am a visual storyteller. With my work, I want to invite the viewer to be immersed into this imaginary world where everything is possible. But most importantly, I want to make an emphasis that we are on an ever changing journey much like my practice. The final objects are not just ‘pretty’ things that are aesthetically pleasing. These are the visual culminations of a creative process and they all tell a story with a bit more flavor- like we say back home in Costa Rica.


10.   Finally, your website states that it’s supported by the National Lottery of Scotland, how did you get involved with the organization?

When I applied for a grant from Creative Scotland to develop a new body of work in 2015, my proposal was accepted and I was awarded £5,000 to develop ‘The Made-Up Museum of Artefacts’ Collection.

Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits here. They enable organizations and artists like me to work in and experience the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland by helping others to develop great ideas and bring them to life. They are the ones responsible to distribute funding from the Scottish Government and The National Lottery.