We had the good fortune of connecting with Julie Ray and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Julie, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
Prior to starting my design business, I did fundraising, communications and program management for two education non-profits. Opening Julie Ray Creative allowed me to combine my two passions – social impact and art and design. The majority of our clients are non-profit organizations working in fields ranging from arts and culture and human rights. Two clients, Kino Border Initiative and Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, support the rights and well being of migrants seeking asylum in the United States. Last year, we designed materials for Kino Border Initiative’s capital campaign to build a migrant outreach center in Nogales, Mexico. After the center was built, I attended the opening ceremony; it was so rewarding to see the beautiful and important space that our designs had supported. In February 2020, I co-founded a new business, Create Protest, an online marketplace for protest merchandise designed by artists. In this critical election year, Create Protest leverages the power of the arts to help us speak out, speak up, demonstrate, and campaign, and to share values of inclusivity, respect, equal representation, fairness, and shared prosperity.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
We are known for our focus on non-profit organizations and arts and culture. With my background in non-profits and fundraising (over 10 years), it was natural to focus on this industry. We love to work closely and collaboratively with our clients, helping them in all aspects of their design and marketing. We have done everything from managing social media and advertising campaigns to developing a complete brand to creating all of the digital and print collateral. I am most proud of the long-term relationships we have with our clients. Our largest clients have been with us for 7-10 years. We also have a niche in working with artists – writers, photographers, visual artists, for example. One of our clients, Peter J. Harris, is a poet, writer and cultural organizer in Los Angeles. We’ve developed a logo for his company, Inspiration House; and websites for three of his projects including a play he wrote and produced. Most recently, I collaborated with Peter to produce one of his Inspiration House Retreats for my clients in Tucson. We invited individuals to a three-hour “strategic respite” to reflect and renew. This was a great experience to more deeply collaborate with Peter and provide a new offering to my clients. In addition to fulfilling client projects, we have also produced our own content. We created a series of characters, the Pueblo Pals, to teach kids about edible desert plants. The first booklet has been “tested” by teachers in the Tucson area and we are currently looking for an education or non-profit partner to help produce the full series. We have an outstanding team of designers, developers and writers that support the work of Julie Ray Creative. They are located in Tucson, Phoenix, Austin, and Seattle!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m most interested in arts districts and unique neighborhoods. In my city, Chandler, I recommend the Vision Gallery in Chandler City Hall which features exhibits by local and regional artists and even has an Art-O-Mat machine (former cigarette vending machine repurposed to sell art)! The downtown has a rich collection of public art. Earlier this year, I collaborated with two Chandler residents – Rebecca Masterson and Zoe Richmond – to create a self-guided art “seek and find” map in downtown Chandler. The map is available online https://www.visiongallery.org/vision-kids/
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Shoutout to the community studies department at UC Santa Cruz, where I got my B.A. Founded in 1969, community studies was a national pioneer in the field of experiential education. Students learn about social change through classroom studies and hands-on internships in social impact organizations throughout the world. I interned at an alternative high school in Santa Cruz and at a civic education organization, Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF), in Los Angeles. Community studies taught me that change is a complex process and that it must start within the communities themselves, not from outsiders. I have carried this belief into my design agency; I honor and respect the organizations I serve and see them as collaborators. At CRF I was mentored by many exceptional women including Donna Parker, Susan Philips, Katie Moore, Kathleen Kirby, and Tina Esposito. I’m grateful for their leadership and friendship.
Other: Links for my other business: https://createprotest.com/ https://www.instagram.com/createprotestmerch/
See You campaign graphics: Historical photos, Julie Ray, designer Tucson Meet Yourself 2020: Julie Ray Creative, designer: Gaby Fleming Creating Our Next LA logo: Julie Ray Creative, designer: Gaby Fleming Create Protest graphics: Create Protest brand by Teresa Villegas, graphics by Julie Ray ArtSpot: Julie Ray, designer BorderLore Live: Julie Ray Creative, designer: Gaby Fleming