never not drawing
Perhaps as you read this Juliet Sulejmani is in a coffee shop. And, perhaps as you read this she’s having a latte, her default drink. And, just possibly her tale of entering coffee may sound familiar, as it did to me, we both entered coffee haphazardly and not by intention.
Sulejmani, is an illustrator based in Melbourne. A regular of Coffee Supreme, she visited nearly every day when she worked nest door to one of its café. Soon, she had an empty sketchbook in her hand from one of the staff and filled it with her illustrations only to gift it back. Little did I know of this backstory when I saw her words pop up on Supreme’s Instagram feed? The culture talks with her about this symbiotic relationship – art and coffee – and it’s a fish eye view into how the culture is creating new artistic capital.
The Coffeetographer: May we begin with what was for coffee today?
Juliet Sulejmani: Today I had a long black8 from Brother Baba Budan.
c: Do you have a default coffee drink?
j.s.: Yes, I always have a latte, however, I’ve been trying to swap it with long blacks. It’s hard to do because I actually find the milk in the coffee quite comforting.
c: Oh I know; I’m by default an espresso and milk girl. How does coffee usually enter into your life?
j.s.: Café culture is a big part of Melbourne life. We are so lucky that we have so many here. I spend a lot of time in a cafés either on my own, while I’m working or catching p with friends.
c: Can you call your first memorable memory with coffee?
j.s.: Haha, yes I was about 15 and I went to our elderly neighbors house with my mother. I was asked if I’d like coffee or tea. I’d never had coffee before and felt rude to tell her, so I just drank it and have been drinking it ever since.
c.: My start was almost similar. I needed to stay awake for an assignment in college and tried my hand with my dad’s Folgers. Needless to say, disaster.
j.s. Haha, disaster! So funny, I’d actually forgotten about that story until your question.
c.: Total recall, lol.
c.: When do you like to letter and illustrate?
j.s.: Usually via social interaction, which always includes coffee. I take a lot of my inspiration from the world around me and it helps me if I’m out and about.
c.: Ah, yes. Being about and about is like a mobile lifeline for the artist. When do you know the thought you want to achieve is finished?
j.s.: Because I often start with a quote, it’s the drawing that completes it. Once I have a quote in mind, its just a matter of finding the right image or idea for a drawing to go with it. I do so many that I don’t really think about it too much.
c.: How did you begin the collaboration with Supreme?
j.s.: I used to work right next door to one of their cafes and I would be in there everyday. One of the staff members knew I was an illustrator and gave me a few notebooks that they had made up. And so I filled one of them with illustrations related to the café and gifted it to them. Since then, I’ve formed a great relationship with the staff and the brand so it just progressed organically.
c.: It seems like coffee and illustration is such a natural fit, and one of he tropes in coffee culture currently. Why do you think this is so? And, which do you think is influencing the other more?
j.s.: Coffee and illustration are both so relevant and relatable. Anyone who drinks coffee, loves it and can relate and appreciate the illustrations. Coffee is kind of like a positive symbol, it goes hand in hand with relaxing and having a break or meeting up with your friend And illustration has its way of connecting people and ideas, so the two together just make people fell happy . I think they’re each influencing the other equally.
c: What can you share with our readers about the culture of coffee in your homeland?
j.s.: Melbourne is definitely where it’s at? There are so many specialty coffee cafes in this city, its just so amazing. I’ve tried to visit all the cafes but its just impossible.
c.: Oh! I can imagine!
j.s.: New ones keep opening up all the time. We really take our coffee seriously and have high expectations for quality.
c.: So, I’ve heard. And, hopefully sooner than later I’ll see. I’m a little curious where would you like to see your coffee illustrations appear?
j.s.: It would be a dream to have them in a book or even in a magazine.
I do believe in dreams coming true.
*a long black is a double-shot of espresso or ristretto over hot water