A Conversation with Julie Smetana
Senior Account Executive
JULIE SMETANA just joined our team as Senior Graphic Designer. We’re already in love with her creative energy and inspired by her adventurous attitude. Allow us to introduce you!
Tell us about yourself.
Julie: I grew up on a farm in North Dakota. I ended up in Spokane somewhat randomly after getting a recruiting letter from Gonzaga. I had never heard of Gonzaga or Spokane, but the name stuck in my mind and it didn’t take me long to decide that it would be the perfect place for a fresh start. Initially, I was on the pre-med track, but after my first year, I switched to a fine arts major—best decision I ever made. I was made to be creative. After Gonzaga, I moved to Tennessee to get my Master of Fine Arts, then returned to Spokane because a) it’s an awesome city and b) I had some community here.
Tell us about your master’s program.
Julie: Graduate school was all about embracing discomfort, exploring new ideas, and developing new methods. For me, that meant putting my pencils, paints, and inks away for a while and entering into (in my opinion) the weirdest, most uncomfortable, and seemingly futile medium of them all—performance art. I ended up climbing up and down a set of stairs for 24 straight hours, chopping up two giant pieces of Mississippi River Driftwood into tiny chips with a dull ax, running 500 miles over the course of a semester on a tiny wooden track I built in my studio, and some other crazy things. My final thesis was on art and futility, which at first sounds pretty negative. But it was about exploring art as more than an end product—as an experience. And it was definitely an experience…
As a designer, what kinds of projects do you like?
Julie: Most of my experience is in web, software and user-experience design, so generally that’s where I like to be. Work in this realm involves so much more than just aesthetics. I love the challenge making something that is beautiful and easy to use.
What brought you to DH?
Julie: I wasn’t looking for a new job. A friend actually emailed my portfolio in for me. I ended up meeting with Christine and Leah for lunch. They swept me off my feet, and the rest is history
What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
Julie: Oh boy, I dabble in a lot of random things. Spokane is a great place for outdoor adventure. There are a ton of amazing places to run, bike, hike, swim, camp, and ski. I’m usually training for some kind of race—I just completed my fifth Ironman this summer. I teach some fitness classes at the YMCA and a drawing class at Gonzaga. But I also try my best to make time to be in my studio, producing a little bit of art here and there.
Now for some fun questions. If you could visit any country in the world, where would you go?
Julie: The Czech Republic. It’s where my ancestors are from. And apparently my last name Smetana is like royalty over there. My sister spent some time there, and when they found out she was a Smetana she got the red carpet treatment. Plus, Prague is a hidden mecca for art. .
What gets your creative juices flowing?
Julie: Google. Mochas. Stories. Road trips. Being outside.
What would you do if you won the lottery?
Julie: Open a MakerSpace. I’ve had this dream for a while—and winning the lottery would undoubtedly help get it off the ground. Spokane needs a place where any individual or group could rent and share space, tools and equipment, insights, and ideas. Membership or use of this place would most definitely not require a portfolio submission, a degree, experience, or a fancy title. All of those ideas you’ve had forever—the ones that you’ve never had the space, tools, or support for? That is what this space would be for.
What’s something that really makes you mad?
Julie: I’ll name two things: drop shadows and beveled edges. So 2002.