We had the good fortune of connecting with Julia Fisher and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Julia, maybe we can start at the very start – the idea – how did you come up with the idea for your business?
The inspiration to start an art therapy business that provided group art therapy specifically created for mothers (artists and non artists alike) began from my own personal journey of becoming a mother. Before having my children (I have three), I worked as an art therapist and psychotherapist for individuals and groups from a variety of backgrounds. I always loved the way art would allow people to use symbolic and visual language when words were not enough to describe what they were going through. When I became a mom I realized how useful this sort of symbolic language could be in describing and processing such an abstract experience. Motherhood, and parenting in general, can be both exhilarating and exhausting, overwhelming and incredibly lonely, full of love and also full of heartbreak, a loss of our sense of selves and also an invitation to dig deeper into what we value and articulate our identities. I also have had two of my babies right after moving to new States each time and being in a position of wanting community. I always appreciated the various mothers groups I would visit but sometimes noticed that this spaces could quickly become one big venting session, which can be very helpful but also overwhelming. I wanted to create a space with my skillset that allowed for mothers in all their various backgrounds and interests to come together in a way that changed up this pattern, but still allowed for openness and sharing. Once I led my first art therapy group specifically designed for mothers about four years ago, I found that this allowed mothers to connect in a valuable way that I had not seen or experienced before. Creating a space where mothers could come together to process their unique motherhood experience in a creative way (without any previous art experience required) allowed them to share their hearts in a new way and to spend time together creating, chatting, and processing at a pace that was natural and allowed people to either create in a safe place alongside others without the pressure of chatting if they did not feel comfortable, or a space where conversation could easily flow as they created alongside other mothers. It was amazing to see how creativity so easily connected to vulnerability and intimacy amongst members. These groups have been a powerful way too for mothers to come together despite their differences and find common ground in walking this journey together– reminding us that no matter who we are, we are all in this boat together and are stronger when we receive and offer support to our fellow mamas. My personal background of growing up as a minority in Hong Kong also led to this passion of wanting a place that could bring mothers together from diverse backgrounds and learn from one another and connect. From this work, I was led to also continue my individual work as a licensed professional counselor and board certified art therapist- using art therapy in one on one sessions with any gender or individual (parent or non parent) that was looking for a way to give voice to emotions and experiences that are difficult to put into words. I continue to see the inspiration and unique creative solutions that art therapy allows people as they process in this way.
Please tell us more about your art. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
Although I have a fine art background, my art these days is mostly in service of my practice as an art therapist. This is to say I create art as a way to connect with myself and process. Since I am a busy mother of three, running my own business and running art therapy sessions both for individuals and groups (in person and virtual), I find that it is most doable to create art that allows for an easy set up and clean up. I am really enjoying water color paint these days as well as ink. I am most proud of the fact that I am able to create throughout my week– even if it is a quick doodle or visual journaling. I am excited about the fact that I am able to add to my visual language and continue to connect with myself in this way. I also consider the art prompts that I specifically curate for each of the unique needs and goals my individual clients and group sessions as my creative work. This is a way for me to blend my therapeutic education with my skillset as an art therapist and creator. It hasn’t been easy to get to where I am today but it has been well worth it. When I first began running art therapy groups outside of my 9-5 job, it presented a lot of challenges with marketing and finding a way to tell people about art therapy since it is such a unique field. In each new State I lived in, I overcame these challenges by connecting with other therapists as well as health providers to find out ways we could support each other’s work and allow for clients to find us when they needed resources. The midwife I happened to deliver my second child with, Emily Sloan of East Dallas Birth and Wellness, was the one that first connected with me here in Dallas right after I moved. She had recently opened her birth and wellness center and was interested in incorporating a mental health piece specifically for mothers. It is because of her support and generosity that I have been able to host sessions at her beautiful space and branch out into virtual work as well.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I have quickly fallen in love with Dallas over the two years that me and my family have lived here. I have to say that most of this is due to the friendly people I have met and the authentic relationships I have made here, but also the amazing food and culture. I would probably have to divide my favorite Dallas options into the following categories: coffee/cafes, lunch and dinner spots, dessert, cocktails/wine, entertainment and art. Let’s start with coffee: I love La La Land Kind Cafe. They have amazing coffee drinks, the best matcha concoctions I have ever tasted, and a cookie that brings a single tear to my eye. Amazing. I also love their mission of employing youths who are outgrowing the foster care system and providing tools for therapy, school, and housing— such a powerful and needed mission. I also love Houndstooth and Fiction for some quality beans and brews. Next would be cafes/bakeries. Bissou Bissou has been a real life-saver with their frozen croissants that are perfect after only 15 minutes in the oven. I have also loved Leila’s Bakery, and Boulangerie by Village Baking Co. for some high quality muffins and kouign-amann. My favorite lunch and dinner spots are all dependent on location. For a fun place to peruse boutique shops and run into other artists and creatives, I enjoy Bishop Arts District. Here I love Boulevardier and Paradiso. My husband and I love fried chicken and tacos and so I have to give a shoutout to two of my favorites both in the ever-lively and fun Deep Ellum district: Ruins and Brick and Bones. My favorite restaurant of all time however, is Niwa for some phenomenal Japanese BBQ. For drinks I go for mezcal based cocktails, and so a mezcaleria such as Las Almas Rotas would be a top pick or picking up a great bottle of natural wine at Bar & Garden Dallas (and you’re always sure to get the best advice from the most, kind and helpful wine enthusiasts staff there). Lastly, I have numerous dessert favorites here: Jeni’s if I am craving amazing ice-cream, Emporium Pies for one of their genius seasonal slices, Sprinkles for the world’s best cupcake, and Picolé for a unique and refreshing popsicle. As for entertainment and arts, my husband and I often see concerts in our free time. We have thoroughly enjoyed The Granada, the Bomb Factory, and the Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory- just to name a few. Of course I have to mention my favorite museums here as well: Nasher Sculpture Center and Meadows Museum. I have on my list to visit Dallas Contemporary and Dallas Museum of Art, which I am very much looking forward to!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to shoutout my husband, first and foremost. My partner and biggest support in doing these things that are so dear to me: raising our children and doing this work. He has been there since day one and has cheered me on in every way. Thank you. I also want to shoutout my parents who have demonstrated what it looks like to be a loving, gracious and accepting parent. Along with them I have to shoutout my three older sisters who have all loved me so well and been apart of my journey into becoming the woman I am today. I also want to shoutout Emily Sloan, founder and midwife of East Dallas Birth and Wellness. She was the one with whom I first connected when I moved to Dallas. Her belief in this mental health work for mothers, and her generosity and support has allowed me opportunities to host art therapy sessions here in Dallas and provide this safe and creative space in her beautiful venue at EDBW. Last but definitely not least, I want to shoutout my children who have made me a mother and been a large part of this inner journey of coming into who I am and articulating what I value. In loving them and having to sacrifice to parent them, I have gained more than I could have ever imagined. Not always easy, but always deeply worth it.
Other: Email me to attend a group session or book an individual or private group session, or ask any questions at: email@example.com. I would love to connect with you!
Photo with infant in front of Mark Rothko painting by Michelle Mosqueda