Julie Dawson has been an artist, designer, photographer, author, illustrator, and speaker since 1973. Her beloved characters made their debut in 2002 when “The Sillybillies” was first published. Her joyful characters came to be thanks to Julie’s amazing experiences, travels, artistic endeavors, and desire to bring cheer to Becca who was undergoing radiation.
Julie was raised by two very bright and creative parents who filled their house with adventure, fun, and imagination for their four children. Summers in the northern Wisconsin woods featured exploring with delightful additions of writing, acting, singing, and art. With her parents serving as Presidents of the Boy and Girl Scout councils in suburban Chicago, the outdoors, friendships, and Scouting values were central to the entire family. At 17, Julie was selected to represent the USA at an International Girl Scout seminar in Switzerland, which launched her passions for travel and working for peace. For nearly 8 decades, her local and international contributions to Scouting have focused on teaching leadership skills and changing perceptions from “Hate to Appreciate to Celebrate.”
Graduating from DePauw University, Julie worked in administrative jobs for 15 years before professionally pursuing the arts in 1973. Color and texture attracted Julie to the excitement of watercolor. Soon, she was selling reproductions as well as her paintings, followed by a career of writing books, making products featuring her art, creating designs for fabrics, wallpapers, and accessories, and making mini videos, along with speaking tours and many one women exhibits of her watercolors.
Shortly after moving to Michigan in 1963 for a job with the Girl Scouts, there was a blind date with a wonderful man that led to marriage and journeys to jungles, deserts, icebergs, cities, and savannahs in more than 100 countries. Armed with her camera, journal, and a huge heart she was seeking answers to what made the world “tick.” She felt the depth and permanence of other people’s joys and difficulties. Enriching friendships bloomed for her in every corner of the world.
As a result of those experiences, her life exploded with the vast landscape of the arts. Ever-expanding with ideas, Julie has become prolific in her various gifts. In her words:
“How could I have known that my life would be filled with love, adventure, discovery, and creating? That I would develop an undying passion for cutting snowflakes, searching for bells, and yes, being silly! I recognize with extreme gratitude, the magnificent life I have lived. My hope is that through my art and writing I can bring joy and beauty and a touch of humor to others.”
That goal continues to expand as an exciting focus of her life. She uses her art and writing to bring happiness and joy to others in hospitals and many non-profits nationally, as well as private and corporate collections around the world.
Over time, The Sillybillies have become an ever-growing adventure! In writing and illustrating her series of Sillybillies books, Julie encourages children to be creative, try new things, make new friends, and help others through her love of whimsical poetry and fun illustrations. She has also painted murals in hospitals, and written a special Sillybillies book for the children at a child advocacy center.
The Sillybillies Find Stripes and Spots theme took over the Emergency Floor of Children’s Hospital in Detroit. Decorating the entire department, Julie started with the waiting room where the entire book is reproduced on a wall for kids and their parents to read, bringing a touch of happiness along with its hopeful message. Further brightening the hospital, Julie continued the fanciful theme creating spirit-boosting art for hallways and 22 exam rooms, as well as a special 29-foot mural.
In 2022, Julie won the Next Generation Indie Book Award for her illustrations in, The Sillybillies Find Stripes and Spots. In it, she combined her Sillybillies watercolors with her computer creations of African animals and scenery to create truly magical illustrations. This honor has resulted in extra attention to the book’s theme: helping children find joy in knowing others who are different from them. A children’s book for all ages, it is being used as a spark for conversations in a variety of groups, adults as well as kids.
The Sillybillies Find Confidence, Julie's newest book, tells a story of how 6 Sillybillies from around the world discover their abilities as they work together to restore a tree.
Confidence, a concern of many kids today, affects all parts of life. The Sillybillies Find Confidence and The Sillybillies Find Stripes and Spots are being used as part of leadership training programs. They deal with primary skills in being a successful leader. All of the Sillybillies books are books of encouragement.
Making all the fun Sillybillies products for kids shown on this—as well as her other website was a natural. She offers designs for wallpaper, bedding, clothing, and more!
For those interested in possible partnerships with the Sillybillies for future projects, contact Julie directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you enjoy The Sillybillies, you may want to journey further into Julie’s work and world at JulieDawsonArtist.com. More wonderful things await.