A bit of inspiration

Julia Condos

PHOTO BY Rachel Bush

During a brief stint at Solano Junior College, Chico native Julia Condos found herself more focused on sketching in her notebook than listening to the child development lectures in front of her. “I liked school, but I loved art more,” the 23-year-old says. With that realization in mind, Condos redirected her energy to Bits and Pieces, an art endeavor that features bottles and canvases hand-crafted with her colorful paper mosaic designs. After receiving an opportunity to show roughly 60 of her pieces alongside other artists last summer at a Green Valley art show near Fairfield, Condos continued her craft here in Chico. With many local works on display for sale at Cabana Café inside In Motion Fitness, she also takes custom orders when she’s not working her other job at T. Tea Bar & Fusion Café.

Where did you get the idea for these projects?

As a little girl, I’d stay up late cutting pictures and I’d experiment with paper and shapes … it was an anxiety healer and turned into something I really enjoyed doing. And when I came up with the name Bits and Pieces, I called my mom and she said, “Jules! I used to say that to you all the time—bits and pieces, bits and pieces”—because I had projects and things scattered everywhere as a kid. It’s organized chaos, and that’s what my art is.

Can you explain the process?

Part of it is cutting paper into confetti-sized pieces. I take each piece and put it onto the bottle, one by one. It’s very detail-oriented and takes several hours. I rarely draw designs ahead of time, I just go. The supplies don’t cost me much—the cost is in the time.

Tell me about your first art show experience.

I was working at a winery in Green Valley and a customer—who’s an incredible artist—offered [for me] to share a booth with her at the Glasshoff Ranch art show. I had the opportunity to be amongst real artists, which was pretty neat—scary, but awesome. I sold pretty much everything. My most expensive piece was a $200 canvas.

What inspires your designs?

It depends on my mood. I love trees; there are so many kinds, especially here in Chico. When I was in Italy this last summer, I was inspired by the mosaics that were everywhere. That was an amazing trip. I honestly didn’t have a plan to work on my art when I got home, but after being there I realized I couldn’t escape it. And it was the money I made from that first art show that got me to Europe in the first place.

How much do you sell your pieces for?

[I charge] $25-$45 for bottles, and my canvases vary.

How do you advertise?

It’s mostly word of mouth right now, but I also work on pieces in public places so people can view my works in progress, like T. Bar and coffee shops.

Any advice for other young potential entrepreneurs?

I always encourage those who have a lot on their mind to do art because you can focus on something you can create yourself. My life has changed because of art; I can zone out, channel my thoughts, and work on something that’s mine. Originally I was just making them for fun, but I realized I was putting a lot of time and effort into something I could potentially sell.