Julian Watts


My work uses traditional wood carving and furniture making techniques to explore the space between sculptural form and functional object. This process originated through the use of everyday utilitarian objects like wooden utensils as a point of departure, following their formal, functional, and cultural threads to their most extreme and surreal endpoints. Recently, these explorations of utilitarian objects have evolved into pure sculptural abstraction. I deconstruct the formal language of the designed world around us: vessels, handles, holes, rims, curves, and draw out the ways that they interact with and reflect the human body. By working at the intersection of art, craft, and design, I am able to further interrogate these relationships to the human body, creating experimental furniture that subverts functionality, or sculptural work that solicits interaction with the human body. This dynamic establishes a playful and unsettling intimacy in the work, one that is exemplified by the hand-carved approach to form and texture, accentuating the inherently organic and irregular qualities of the natural materials. Abstract drawing plays an essential role in translating these ideas into physical form, and much of my carving references hand-drawn lines and India ink painting, juxtaposing delicate, ephemeral gestures with the strength and rigidity of wood or stone. The ultimate goal of this intimate abstraction through traditional craft is to create an ecosystem of both sculptural and functional works that challenge the viewer to reconsider their preconceptions about the objects that make up the world around us.


Julian Watts is an artist and woodworker based in Alpine, Oregon. Born and raised in San Francisco, he spent his youth in his father's sculpture studio, eventually leaving to study installation art at the University of Oregon where he received a BFA in sculpture and a certificate in folklore studies. After graduating, he returned to San Francisco where he worked under several fine furniture makers, learning traditional woodworking techniques. This combination of contemporary art and traditional woodworking influences laid the foundation for his art practice, beginning with experimental hand carved spoons and bowls, and currently encompassing wooden sculpture, furniture making, drawing, painting, music, and stone carving. He is represented by Patrick Parrish and BDDW in New York, and shows with Jack Fischer Gallery and Heath Ceramics in San Francisco and Los Angeles. His work has been shown at Fog Fair, Design Miami, the London Design Festival, and Salone del Mobile Milan. He has been featured in publications such as Architectural Digest, American Craft Magazine, The New Yorker, as well as numerous others. His work has been included at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art and The London Design Museum, where he was recently honored as a finalist for the Loewe Craft Prize. Outside of his studio practice, Watts has taught at Anderson Ranch Arts Center and was recently named Wornick Distinguished Visiting Professor of Wood Arts at California College of the Arts.


University of Oregon, BFA in Sculpture, Certificate in Folklore Studies, Magna Cum Laude, 2012


  • 2018 Particles, Jack Fischer Gallery, San Francisco, Ca
  • 2018 The Ashtray Show, Fisher Parrish, Brooklyn, NY
  • 2018 Loewe Craft Prize 2018 Exhibition, The Design Museum, London, UK
  • 2018 Fog Fair, Patrick Parrish Gallery, San Francisco, Ca
  • 2017 Design Miami/Basel, Patrick Parrish Gallery, Miami, Fl
  • 2017 London Design Festival, Cold Press Gallery, London, England
  • 2017 Detritus, San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, San Jose, CA
  • 2017 The Glorious Object, Curated by Roger Stevens, Patrick Parrish, New York, NY
  • 2017 Objection, Curated by Joseph Ian Henrikson of Anonymous Gallery, Crossing Collective, New York, NY
  • 2017 Feelers, Patrick Parrish, New York, NY
  • 2017 The Paperweight Show, Fisher Parrish, Brooklyn, NY
  • 2016 Steinbeisser Experimental Gastronomy, in collaboration with chefs David Kinch, Corey Lee, Daniel
  • Patterson, Montalvo, Saratoga, CA
  • 2016 Design Miami/Basel, Patrick Parrish Gallery, Miami, Fl
  • 2016 London Design Festival, Cold Press Gallery, London, England
  • 2016 Selected Work, Heath Ceramics, Los Angeles, CA
  • 2016 Perfect Imperfect, Nishi Gallery, Canberra, Australia
  • 2016 Selected New Work, Boiler Room Gallery at Heath Ceramics, San Francisco, CA
  • 2016 Salone del Mobile, BDDW, Milan, Italy
  • 2015 London Design Festival, Cold Press Gallery, London, England
  • 2015 Utensil Collections, Installation commission for Etsy Headquarters, San Francisco, CA
  • 2015 Building Blocks, Campfire Gallery, San Francisco, CA
  • 2012-2015 Land of Songs, Producer & director of photography for documentary film about the Lithuanian folk singing tradition, San Francisco, CA / Vilnius, Lithuania
  • 2014 Kindling, Campfire Gallery, San Francisco, CA
  • 2013 Story of the Creative, See | Exhibition Space, New York, NY
  • 2013 Psycho-Pomp, Ship in the Woods, Del Mar, CA
  • 2012 Our Streets, public art project funded by the city of Eugene, OR
  • 2012 PINKELLIPSE, Laverne Krause Gallery, Eugene, OR
  • 2012 In Progress, Washburn Gallery, Eugene, OR
  • 2012 Skins, Laverne Krause Gallery, Eugene, OR
  • 2012 Bridges, Downtown Initiative for the Visual Arts, Eugene, OR
  • 2012 ENT MOOT, Stonehenge, Eugene, OR


  • 2018 California College of the Arts, Visiting Professor
  • 2018 Anderson Ranch, Instructor
  • 2017 AZ West
  • 2015 Penland School Of Crafts
  • 2015 Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Technical Assistant
  • 2013 Vermont Studio Center


  • 2018 Wornick Distinguished Visiting Professor at California College of the Arts
  • 2018 Loewe Craft Prize Finalist
  • 2015 West Coast Craft Scholarship
  • 2015 Michael Pierschalla Scholarship, Penland School of Crafts
  • 2015 Technical Assistant Grant, Stuart Kestenbaum Scholarship Fund, Haystack Mountain school of Crafts
  • 2013 Vermont Studio Center Artist’s Grant
  • 2012 Jan Zach Memorial Award in Sculpture
  • 2011 A&AA Scholarship Fund Award
  • 2011 David McCosh Memorial Scholarship


  • 2017 Architectural Digest, November 2017. The New York City Town House Julianne Moore Calls Home
  • 2017 Artsy, October 2017. 6 Artists Who Are Pushing the Limits of Wood
  • 2017 New Yorker, June 2017. An Experimental Feast, Plated by Artists to Amuse and Confound
  • 2017 San Francisco Magazine, March 2017. The Looker
  • 2017 San Francisco Cottages and Gardens, March 2017. Shape Shifter
  • 2017 American Craft Magazine, December / January 2017. Julian Watts
  • 2016 C Magazine, November 2016. Carving a Niche
  • 2016 Define Magazine, June 2016. Julian Watts
  • 2016 Habitat, Spring 2016. Sacred Vessels
  • 2016 Elle Decoration UK, April 2016. Details
  • 2015 House and Garden UK, October 2015. Insider Notebook