The double jay collective PRESENTs:

The Creatives

The following interview is the first of many to come in the Creatives series. The series is an alternative take on the traditional photo essay, and seeks to share the stories of individual creatives as they explore their art, industry, and passion. 

They are passionate. They are talented. They are driven. They are the Creatives. 

This is Giulia's (pronounced Julia) story.

She's a designer, make-up artist, and writer with a passion for fashion. 

 
 
 
 
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Like a Jewel

“Jenny, I’m nervous. What if I say something wrong?”

“You won’t. I promise.” I know how passionate she is, which is why I’m excited to have her on board. 

Shifting in my seat, I’m ready to get started. I place my recorder on the table between us — I want to make sure everything is done correctly. “Alright. First things first. For the record: what’s your name?”

“Giulia Giuseppina Tatangelo.”

She says her name with a voice dripping with her Italian heritage. It rolls off her tongue much smoother than it does on mine, and I enjoy this. She leans back on the rolling chair and puts her feet up on the table, and sends me a wide grin, clearly comfortable. I can’t help beam right back — her aura is infectious, but I muster myself together and ask the first question.  

“So, what do you do?”

“What do you mean what do I do? Girl, you gotta be more specific than that!” Giulia gestures in the air with her hands and I hold back a chuckle.

“Okay, okay. Creatively — what do you do?”

“I tap into what I like. I love makeup, I love accessorizing, I love a way to enhance someone’s beauty and I don’t think it’s a bad thing,” Giulia says. “I explore creative outlets that I enjoy, and I always try to do something different.”

The first time I met Giulia, I was positive she had just stepped out of The Devil Wears Prada. Not because she had an air of superiority, but because you could just tell she belonged in fashion, and she loved every part of it. She was a staff writer for the Fashion Forward segment at The Western Gazette, and I had been assigned to photograph the fashionistas she chose to feature for the newspaper. Walking around campus with her, while intimidating, became one of my favourite parts of the week. Her passion was contagious; her talent obvious.

Throughout the year, I witnessed her perform a multitude of skills in the industry, and do it well. In the past year itself she was acknowledged for her major contributions for makeup for fashion magazine, Volta, was a makeup artist for the fashion shows themselves, and learned the art of fashion photography — all in addition to the writing she was doing for both an online magazine, as well as for the campus newspaper.

It’s sad. You want to explore this kind of look but you know no matter what, it will not look the same on you as it does on a model or someone else.
— GIULIA TATANGELO
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“So what’s the goal?"

“My Dad would always say to me, ‘when you grow up and do something, you have to do something that helps people’. I love making people laugh, I love making people’s day, I love making people smile, and that’s something that’s selfishly selfless.”

See, that’s the thing about Giulia — she radiates light into peoples lives. I haven’t known her for long — but she is already one of my favourite individuals to run into. Passionate and carefree, and so obviously full of life and love. People like her are few and far between. 

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“Okay so, explain it to me. You’re such a positive person. What keeps it up?”

“Okay so now we’re going to get kinda deep here,” she says.

“Of course.”

“I think we look at a lot of comedians and how they’re so funny, and so positive, but they always seem to be the most depressed people. I think honestly what keeps me going is that exact same thing.”

My heart sinks. It’s a tired story, only because it’s both real and prevalent, but it still makes me wish otherwise. 

“I’m not very content with things in my life. I had a hard time getting along with my parents — as great as they were — I haven’t had the best relationship with my father,” she trails off, pausing to form her words. “I think that’s what keeps me going — because I never, ever, want to emit the negativity that I have received in my life. So whatever I’ve been going through, that’s what makes up for it. Like I said — selfishly selfless.”

 
 
 
 
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I wonder if this is forever the plight of the creative. There is the unspoken understanding that the work of an artist is a reflection of heartaches and traumas. I don’t like the notion, and yet, something about it rings true.

I think of Picasso’s blue period. 

“So would you consider yourself a sad person?” I ask.

I worry this may be too invasive. I rephrase.

“Are you just a content person who’s been through sad things?”

“I’m a coping sad person. I feel like I’m not content, but nor am I still in that place, but I’m coping. I’m not out of it, but I’m not entirely in it — I’m not sunk in it — it’s just my way of coping.”

Giulia shifts. Her feet are no longer on the table, and she looks pensive. The flicker of her ever-present smile is slightly hidden.

“It’s a very healthy way of coping,” I say.

“I think so.”

I shift gears. I want to see her face light up again. 

“So does fashion play into that?”

She doesn't disappoint — her spark is back. 

“So story time. My mom asked me once when I was a kid if I was a follower. I said no. So she asked, are you a leader? I said no. So she was like, well what are you? And I just said, well I’m my own person. I think I was four at the time.” She says this all matter-of-factly, as if any rational four-year-old would have come to that conclusion. “I think I’ve always been that kind of rebellious since I was a kid. Anytime my parents would say no, I would do it, ten times more — and I’ve always been like that. So I think with fashion, it allows me to rebel against everything and just be different.”

“Isn’t it intimidating?” I ask.

“It’s definitely a shark tank, but I’m ready to tackle it.” She sits up a little straighter as she answers this. Confidence comes naturally.

“What is one of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome in your creative world?”

“Honestly, I would have to say, my weight,” she says, quietly.

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Of all the possible answers, I didn’t expect this one. Perhaps being intimidated by an oversaturated industry — sure. But from the tall Italian girl with the curvy hips and small waist, her looks were the last thing to be worried about. 

“So a little background story,” she continues.

"Mhm."

“I was sick when I was going into high school — I had appendicitis, and of course, Italian parents, they never believe you… so it got really bad. It perforated and I almost died. Long story short, I spent two months in the summer in the hospital, and I was really, really sick, so I lost weight. I think I was 110 lbs. going in, and I was 80 lbs. coming out.”

I try to picture that in my head. I can’t. 

“So from then, I didn’t know what portion control was. I didn’t know what willpower was. I just ate. Because everyone, especially in an Italian family, would tell me to eat, and keep eating, and you’re too skinny, so eat. Even if I was full, I would still finish my plate.”

An image of her family surrounding her at the dinner table drifts into my head. I picture her grandmother bringing her second and third servings, and her sister’s concerned looks towards her size. 

“I grew to have this aversion to food,” she continues. “I had a bad relationship with it and I didn’t know how to gauge myself. My sister is also really skinny, and looking at her fashion and how so many things look on her and fit her, versus me? Oh my god. Hideous. Because it just doesn’t work for my body type. All throughout high school I wouldn’t wear jeans even.”

I think about the idea of coping again. We all cope in different ways. I have begun to realize that my way of coping is by storytelling. In a strange, and almost poetic way, telling her story does wonders for my heart — for my spirit. 

Giulia continues. “I didn’t like feeling restricted. I wouldn’t buy my size. So finally when I went to university, I bought a size six pair. I’ve come to realize that I think it’s the biggest thing I’ve had to overcome in the fashion industry, because it’s sad. You want to explore this kind of look but you know no matter what, it will not look the same on you as it does on a model or someone else. As someone who is not a size two or a size four, it’s hard.”

She pauses again, and we look at each other. 

“I think that’s all of my questions,” I say quietly. 

I love making people laugh, I love making people’s day, I love making people smile, and that’s something that’s selfishly selfless.
— GIULIA TATANGELO
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The silence hangs in the air for a moment, and we sit in it. Giulia is the one to break it. “Now you know everything,” she jokes.

I smile.

“Anything you want to add? Anything that is inherently Giulia? Life motto?”

“Everything happens for a reason. Honestly.”

I catch myself nodding. This, I relate to.

“I swear. I would tattoo it on my head, because I believe in it so greatly. I had to move elementary schools in grade eight, for engaging in a fight. Do I look like a fighter??? No!”

A laugh actually escapes me this time. She really doesn’t.

“So what happened?” 

“I did it — I moved to a new school. And you know what? I met the most amazing people in the world — my best friend, who I’m still friends with to this day — at that new school. I was voted for valedictorian and I was only there for half of a year. I met a boyfriend at the time, and everything just fell into place.”

I’m impressed.

She continues. “With my appendix, I was supposed to be on a plane that day at 7 pm. I went into surgery… at 7 o’clock. So everything happens for a reason, and whatever happens to me that’s bad, I’m just like — well there’s a plan, and everything is going to work out in the end. Because I know it always does! It always does!”

There is a truth to it that makes me believe in it — that everything really does happen for a reason. With Giulia, I am realizing that I’m only starting to understand what that is. I still don’t know everything about her, but right now, I know I smile more around her. I am learning that she’s a gem — a Giule in fact.

I sit across the table from her and turn the recorder off.

“Thank you.”

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Photos and article by Jenny Jay

To see more of Giulia's work, you can follow her makeup account on Instagram.

 
 
 
 
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