Friday, April 13, 2007

Red Otter ... Minnesota, USA

Artist: Julia Goozen
Business: Red Otter
Location: Duluth, Minnesota
Web site:

What do you create?
I create journals! I cover the books in different kinds of paper and then bind them together using waxed linen thread. I also create greeting cards using collage techniques.

Where and when do you do your creative work?
I typically pull out all of my art supplies and spread them all over my living room floor or my kitchen table. I have “horizontal surface disorder.” By the time I’ve finished one of the book covers I usually have glue all over my hands and paper all over the floor.

Do you have another "day job"?
I’m a graphic designer by trade. I design educational children’s books. I have the pleasure of working from home!

Where and what did you study?
I went to the University of Minnesota Duluth for my undergraduate in Graphic Design. I minored in art and nearly minored in art history.

What inspires you and what motivates you?
I’ve always been fascinated with books and different kinds of paper. The books that I read as a child have impacted my tastes greatly. I read Anne of Green Gables and wanted to be a writer. I read Little Women and wanted to write with a dip pen. I read Girl of the Limberlost and wanted to make paper with butterfly wings. I find now that going to little specialty shops inspire my creativity. I’m fascinated with silk ribbon and different kinds of antique buttons. I love Amy Butler fabrics and hobo bags. I love Victorian filigree and the beauty of monochromatic designs. I’m motivated by the desire to keep the tradition of journal writing alive, for myself and for others. I find myself inspired to journal beautiful things when the book is beautiful as well.

When did you start doing this?
About three years ago I was living in a small bedroom in a lovely house, living paycheck to paycheck when I came to last page in my journal. Seeing as I would’ve much rather spent my money on tea and oranges, I decided to make myself a journal. I used paper given to my by an art professor and fishing line from one of my roommates. After that adventure, I slowly developed the techniques and processes of book making.

Do you remember getting into art as a kid?
I think I was always taking an art class of some kind. Watercolor, pastels, drawing, they were all apart of my education. I remember watercolors being a favorite medium of mine. I loved how vivid I could make the colors.

When and why did you decide to start your own business?
My full time job, though highly creative, wasn’t really affording me the opportunity to use my book making craft. I wanted an outlet to create books. Having other people buy them was sort of a great side benefit.

How did you choose the name for your business?
I designed my own wedding invitations this past winter. My fiancĂ© and created a family crest, combining different elements of our own personality and experiences into the crest. My fiancĂ© picked an owl to represent himself and I picked an otter. Otters are supposed to symbolize those who are passionate about life. I thought it very fitting. The “red” part came from my love of the color.

What do you love most about your work?
I love the delight of finishing off my last stitch and holding the book in my hands. I love to open it up and hear the pages move together. There’s something extremely satisfying about creating something both beautiful and useful!

What's the most fascinating place you've been?
I’m going to define fascinating in the sense that I would go back to this place in an instant. That place would have to be the highlands in Scotland. North of Edinburgh, south of Inverness, along the western coast, somewhere in there, that’s where I would go!

A book you love:
The Drowning Tree by Carol Goodman! I love this book!

What is the most interesting thing about you?
My love of water! I seem to find myself instantly at home when I’m around a body of water, or a river. There’s something familiar about the way water can gently move around and under and through different spaces. I love swimming in it. I love playing in it. I love going skinny dipping and feeling it all around me!

What achievement are you most proud of?
Interestingly, I’m incredibly proud of Red Otter. I went on a limb, by myself, and created a small shop. I put my artwork out there for everyone to see. It’s a vulnerable, and yet intoxicating feeling.

What advice would you give women starting their own business?
Be patient with your self. Be patient with the undulation of business.

What's the biggest challenge you face in your work?
Right now, it’s getting my products made and into my shop!

What do you love to do in your free time?
I love to go for long, long walks through the woods near my home. I love to see the way the seasons are showcased in nature!

What are you working on right now?
I have a small army of journals waiting to be stitched together. I just have to buy more waxed linen thread! These journals will be my spring edition!

What do you hope to achieve next?
I want to get my master’s in book arts. Interestingly enough there are a few courses out there. I would love to learn more techniques and be able to conquer more mediums.


  1. Thanks for the interview about Julia. She is a lovely, lovely woman, and I enjoyed finding more about her through this article.

  2. Julia is a warm, friendly, supportive and in essence, a wonderful person! I'm so happy that she's the featured artist here ... she's truly an inspiration to all!

    All the best for your wedding, Jewels! I'm sure it'll be a beautiful one!

    ~ Marsha