Julie Rustad

“Remember that kid from school who knew she was going to grow up to be an artist? That was me.”

From drawing scenes on the back of placemats, to painting a mural in my middle school, I couldn’t help myself. So it surprised no one when I ended up studying graphic design at Drexel University in Philadelphia. I worked as in-house graphic designer after college, and from there I moved to Tucson where I went back to school (to study business) and set up my own award-winning graphic design studio.

“I was itching to start painting again.”

Graphic design is computer-based, and I missed creating art with paints and canvas. When my son Syver came along and I took time off to be a mom, I grabbed the opportunity to get back to painting. While Syver napped, I painted. Soon, the idea for my  Desert Dwellers flash cards was born, and a collection of acrylic paintings inspired by the Sonoran desert.

Desert Dwellers Flash Cards by Julie Rustad won ADDY Award by American Advertising Federation Tucson
Desert Dwellers Flash Cards by Julie Rustad won ADDY Award by American Advertising Federation Tucson

“I’m bringing together everything I’m passionate about.”

With Desert Dwellers flash cards, all of my loves – painting, graphic design,  and of course my little boy – come together. My parents are both retired teachers and I have taught visual communications at a local university. I love nothing more than seeing my flash cards in action – in a game, or a classroom. That’s why I included activities in the flash card sets too. Want me to present to your school?

“No batteries required – just how I like it.”

As a parent and a business owner, my life can get crazy. And even though I make my living through computers and new technology, sometimes I love for my family to just get back to basics – creating art, playing Legos and making music with our band The Nap Skippers. I hope my flash cards fit right in with that mindset: a slower pace, quality time, and definitely no batteries!

Artist Statement

In my paintings I capture the energy of the moment, while adding more color and texture than might actually appear. I love painting desert animals and have an affinity for spotting them when I am outside my Tucson home.

I’ve developed my technique over the years. Starting out as drawing cartoons and creating greeting cards as a kid, to taking formal art classes. Over the years I switched from oils to acrylics and I am sure I will continue to experiment with other mediums in the future. 

Awards / Recognition

  • Silver ADDY Award for Desert Dwellers Flash Cards
  • LUMIES Emerging Artist Nominee
  • Inside Tucson Business Up & Comers Semi-Finalist
  • Featured Drexel Alumni
  • ADDY Award - LM&O Stationery Package
  • ADDY Award Winning!

    Desert Dwellers Flash Cards

  • The Nap Skippers

    Julie, Syver & Jon Rustad - Family Band

  • Julie & Syver using Desert Dwellers Flash Cards

    Kids enjoy learning about desert animals and the alphabet!