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Julia Marshall – Alhambra artist and illustrator

  • Maido Stationary and Gifts Shop employee and local artist, Julia Marshall.

  • All photos courtesy of Julia Marshall.


Alhambra , CA United States

Jeu Foon interviews a promising local artist, Julia Marshall, about her anime and Archie Comics-inspired drawings.

Q. Julia, you work here at Maido. What does Maido mean and what does this store sell?

A. “Maido” is from the Japanese language. In the Kansai dialect, it can mean “hello”, “thank you”, or “every time.” I help with sales. We sell many unique Japanese stationeries, gifts, craft items, cards and artist supplies.  Our customers are mostly teenage girls, families with small kids, artists, and many young couples on dates.

Q. Young couples on dates?
A. Yes, they’ll visit our store before or after seeing a movie across the street at the Edwards Regal theater. Because there are so many unique items in the store, they have something different and fun to talk about. It’s sort of an ice-breaker for date conversation, as they browse through the aisles.

Q. Have you worked elsewhere?
A. Yes, I was a gallery attendant at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena for two years. I was one of the staff enforcing the visitor rules like no liquids or backpacks in the galleries.

Q. What is your training as an illustrator, as you refer to yourself.
A. Like most illustrators, I carry a sketch book and draw someone or whatever I see interesting at that moment. At Gabrielino High, I was a member of the Anime Club there. Anime refers to animated stories usually drawn in the Japanese Manga Style. I started my formal art training with a figure drawing class at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. We drew pictures of live nude models to learn the human body as artists.

Q. Did you find drawing an actual nude person weird or embarrassing?
A. Honestly, it didn’t feel weird at all drawing a live nude model because I knew what to expect. But I think some of my classmates were embarrassed at first. I could hear them giggling.

Q. Other training?
A. I also attended art classes at Pasadena City College along with classes in Japanese language and general education classes.

Q. How would you describe your own artwork?
A. My style is influenced by a mixture of the Max Fleischer cartoons from the 1930’s, 70’s/80’s/90’s manga and anime, punk rock, Archie comics, and 90’s cartoons and video games.

Q. In your art protfolio, there are three drawings that stand out because they appear to be cover artwork for music CDs that illustrate a cowboy show, one with a Beatles vibe, and a third one that confuses us. What are those all about?
A. My father is Evan Marshall, a well-known mandolin musician. When he and his friend, Brian Oberlin, decided to make a cd of their music, they asked me to do the cover art. The title of that album is “Twin Mandolin Slingers”. The artwork shows a duel at a cowboy show with mandolins representing Brian and my Dad shooting music notes at each other from pistols.

Q. Another one looks a bit like the Beatle’s Magical Mystery Tour album. Is that what you were going for?

A. Yes, that CD includes six Beatles covers on mandolin, so of course the title and artwork reflect that. It’s called Mandolin Mystery Tour.

Q. Your third CD cover looks like a farm, but it has a sign saying “Beethoven County” and a flying banner saying “Estudiantina de San Gabriel”. I’m confused, please explain.
A. That is the cover artwork for a single song. The song itself is a Beethoven classical piece performed by my father playing all six parts. The setting is a farm because mandolins are often used in country music. The very first mandolin orchestras were made up of Spanish college students known as estudiantinas. The first Italian mandolin orchestras kept the Spanish term. They had names like Estudiatina di Napoli for example. My Dad wanted a unique name for his one-man virtual mandolin orchestra and chose Estudiantina de San Gabriel.

Q. Your more recent drawings remind us of the old Archie and Veronica comics. Were you influenced by those old comic strips and books?
A. Yes, so much so that I’m working on a series of stories in a comic strip format I’m calling Born Too Late. It’s drawn in a style similar to the Archie and Veronica artistry. The series is about three eighteen year olds who start a band. Their goal is to save enough money from performing to travel to Japan. Some of the scenes are set in Alhambra at Rick’s Burger’s, the patio outside the Edwards Theater, and other Main Street locations.

One story within the series is called “Music Hell” – a place where people go if they commit too many music-related sins. At one point, a female Music Devil emerges to tell the main character, Ronda, that she is going to Music Hell for allowing someone to take undeserved credit for her songs.

Q. Interesting! When will we get to see it?
A. I’m trying to get it done before I move to Portland.

Q. Why are you going to Portland?
A. I’m going to Portland because I got accepted into the Pacific Northwest College of Art. I’ll be getting a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration. It is a dream come true for me.

Q. What will you do with that degree?
A. I hope to become an illustrator at an animation company like Disney or be a concept artist who takes a theme and designs the artwork for video games.

Alhambra Source: Thank you for this interview, Julia. We look forward to seeing more of your artwork in the future! We’ll close Julia’s story with the photo gallery above and a video interview produced by Alhambra Source photographer and videographer Cameron LeeWong.


Cameron LeeWong is a cinematographer/editor currently enrolled at Emerson College in Boston.

Jeu Foon is a writer, singer, guitarist, ukulele accompanist, taiko drummer, former stockbroker and retired engineering supervisor. He is the founder and host of Rick’s Open Mic on Wednesday nights in downtown Alhambra. He loves writing about the real people of Alhambra.


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