"I'm not satisfied to develop only one style of art. I like to try my hand at many genres, ...and experiment with new techniques," says Choolee. "I scroll through the work of fellow artists every day. They inspire me to continually push the boundaries of my craft... Bright colours, rough textures, ...and nerdy sci-fi. That's what gets me pumped to create."
In her spare time, Choolee is a retro enthusiast, self-proclaimed grammar nerd, Mandarin speaker, & dilettante Hep Cat hopper (swing dancing in suspenders!) She's also a big fan of running, indie folk-rock, jw.org, TNG, and The Sound of Music.
"We are all 'multi-potentialites,'" says Choolee. "So step outside your comfort zone & try something new with me!"
Choolee applies her artistic talents to client requests and creates one-of-a-kind pieces. She has had opportunity to collaborate with local personalities in creating logos, profile art for album covers, and graphics for websites, including singer/songwriter Kaleigh Mason, stunt man Todd Shroeder, marketing expert Navin Chand, and game programmer/prof, Jason Eckert.
Restrepo also sells prints of her personal creations, such as the well-liked Can't Buy Me Love, a painting which features a juicy pair of lips depicted by a red barcode.
Once a month, Choolee enthusiastically joins dozens of artists in The Waterloo Region Art Hunt, which promises free art to the public. Just follow the scavenger clues posted on Instagram and Twitter. (#arthuntwr)
You can find other local gems regularly on the Art Murmur blog, where Choolee reports on points of interest and a variety of Arts & Culture news.
Choolee's early work (2000-2003) was featured in two shows at the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery and also in Kitchener City Hall's Rotunda Gallery. Secondary school Art & Photography teachers referenced her work in their curriculum as a model in art theory and creative interpretation of project outline.
Most recently, drivers entering Kitchener-Waterloo via Bridgeport Rd catch a glimpse of her 1,000-sq-ft outdoor mural "Connect, Communicate, Innovate," a 2017 illustrative work in red, black, and white that highlights unspoken forms of communication.
Her parents were the first to sound acclaims when their little squinty-eyed blonde held up her crayon doodles. But since those kindergarten journal entries- which boasted elaborate drawings and very few words- Julie Restrepo (formerly Diener) has come a long way artistically.
A job in the arts was not part of Choolee's initial career plan. Out of high school, she chose Dental Assisting as a way to support herself as she participated in community volunteer work teaching Bible topics.
But when chronic health issues robbed her of time and energy, she decided on a change. "I started drawing again. I couldn't believe how rusty I'd gotten after 10 years. It just goes to show: if you don't use it, you lose it. ...I also began updating my art skills, and acquiring new ones. So I branched into fields like illustration and digital art."
Eclectic Multi-Media Artist
"After a friend's homemade high school comic strip featured me as a one-dimensional stick figure named 'Choolee', the name stuck.
So I adopted it as my pseudonym. It reminds me not to take myself too seriously."