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Meet Julie Ray

Today we’d like to introduce you to Julie Ray.

Julie, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’ve always had a passion for arts and activism. After receiving my Community Studies degree at UC Santa Cruz, I worked for an education non-profit, then moved into fundraising and communications for an arts education organization in Los Angeles, artworxLA. While at artworxLA, I worked with freelance graphic designers and realized I wanted to pursue design. I started taking evening classes at UCLA extension and Otis College of Art and doing pro-bono projects for family and friends. After moving to Tucson in 2004, I studied at Pima Community College and decided to take on clients. At the same time, I was still doing freelance grant writing for organizations in LA and Tucson. I officially launched Julie Ray Creative in 2008 and was fortunate to secure several non-profit clients whose work I admired – Tucson Meet Yourself, a long-running folklife festival, and Kino Border Initiative, a binational organization that promotes just, workable migration between the U.S. and Mexico. Over the years, I’ve gathered a team of subcontractors to offer graphic and web design, PR and marketing services to organizations, businesses and individuals throughout the country.

Has it been a smooth road?
While I’ve been fortunate to have excellent long-term clients, I’ve had my share of challenging situations with clients and team members. I’ve found that is important to find the right fit with both; just because someone offers you money doesn’t mean it will be a beneficial working arrangement. Communication and clear expectations are key.

We’d love to hear more about your organization.
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!

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I love the arts and culture venues such as the Mesa Arts Center, Phoenix Art Museum, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art as well as smaller spaces like K’é Main Street Learning Lab in Mesa and the Vision Gallery in Chandler. We have a strong coworking community with venues including Thrive Coworking in Gilbert (where I run my business), Mac6 in Tempe, Co+Hoots, etc. I serve on the board of AIGA Arizona, the professional association for design, and am proud of the work we are doing to advocate for design and support creatives. We host the annual Phoenix Design Week which includes a two-day conference in downtown Phoenix for 500 creatives featuring local and national speakers.

What I dislike is the sprawl and disconnection among the various cities. As a recent transplant from Tucson, it has been challenging to feel connected to the greater Phoenix region.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Julie Ray Creative design team – Jessica Castillo, Gabriela Fleming, Jenni Pagano, Julie Ray and Eleonore Rowe for clients: Peter J. Harris, Richard May, Southwest Folklife Alliance, Tucson Meet Yourself, Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center, and Alexander | Carrillo Consulting

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