A Conversation with Julianna

We chat about the evolution of her passions for writing and unexpectedly, art — how she grew as an artist in Primer after disliking it in school, her ongoing projects with Primer friends, the book she’s working on, and more...

Connie Lin


Julianna is from Ireland and has been part of the Primer community since October 2020. The artwork featured in this post are all created by Julianna.

What have been your favorite parts of the Primer experience? 

I think it’s really cool how there are other kids who have the same interests as you and can give you feedback. On Primer, you can have conversations and interact with them about subjects you’re all passionate about. I think it’s super fun to be in this kind of environment! Now I can have a good conversation with around eight kids. It’s really fun to be able to make friends with people who live really far away from me and to be able to discuss our passions. 

How has Primer shaped your passions? 

I’m very very active in the Artist Club—probably more than anything else because I think it’s so cool to see people’s work there and it’s really easy to keep up with what they’re doing.

Seeing other people’s work now really motivates me to keep drawing. Seeing them post their work gives me a bit of a kick like “I can do this as well” and that I can enjoy art and make art like they do.

I used to be much more interested in writing and reading and thought that I was not good at art. I actually used to admit that “Art is my least favorite subject in school.” When I realized there was an Artist’s Club in Primer, I thought it looked cool so I joined. Seeing other people’s work now really motivates me to keep drawing. Seeing them post their work gives me a bit of a kick like “I can do this as well” and that I can enjoy art and make art like they do. It really motivates me when there’s people that I look up to. When I started practicing and constantly putting effort into it, I started seeing a lot of improvement which also motivates me to continue.

How have you found friends on Primer? 

It’s different on Primer where you approach people about their hobbies and bond over things you both put time into. It’s not like that in school for me. On Primer, I can tell when a person is immersed in this project and really cares about it a lot like I do and I think it's a lot easier this way to reach out to people and work on things with them. 

I’m generally not great at making friends straight away. With Primer Rooms I think it’s easier because we already start off on a good note when we’re working on something together and can give each other compliments on our work. That gives a really good start to a possible friendship. In real life it feels a bit different—I have friends at school and have good conversations with other kids in real life, but sometimes I can struggle with making friends. In school there’s people with different interests, and we don’t bond over hobbies as much. It’s different on Primer where you approach people about their hobbies and bond over things you both put time into. It’s not like that in school for me. On Primer, I can tell when a person is immersed in this project and really cares about it a lot like I do and I think it's a lot easier this way to reach out to people and work on things with them. 

What has your experience been like being in Kid-Hosted Rooms? 

One of the first Kid-Hosted Rooms I went to was a book discussion room. It's really cool when someone brings up a book and you find others who like it and get geeky about it. When we do a poll of books that are our favorite there might be some books in there I’ve never heard of. It’s really inspiring and keeps me really motivated to read. There are just so many books out there to read!

I’ve really enjoyed going to Pen’s “Really Cool People Person’s Club” drawing Room. I think it’s really amazing to interact with other kids and do different art challenges. It’s like Primer on a whole new level for me. 


What has your experience been like as a Kid Host? 

The Rooms that I’ve been to before that were hosted by other kids were really fun, so I wanted to start something of my own. I wanted to come up with a project that we could work on together. I find it hard when I’m writing a story to stick with it—I need some sort of motivation, but when I’m doing it with other people they’re often asking me questions and telling me I could do this or that and it really motivates me. I’ve been working on a story with people on Primer. It’s usually the same people but every now and then some other people would join and we’d sort of discuss what we want our story to be about. We practice activities like asking questions to each other and answering them in the way our characters would. We’d write and give each other tips and advice about our characters. We write in different perspectives, read out what we have, and give each other compliments and feedback. Hopefully it’ll become a digital book we can share with people on Primer!

What’s your preparation process when hosting a Room?

It’s always easier to come up with ideas when you’re with other people because you can bounce ideas off of each other and then form something new.

I would write guiding questions in my notebook like how many main characters there should be and questions that really shape the story. When we’re done, we’d discuss the ideas we would have and write them down because it’s really cool when people work together and come up with ideas. When there are instances where there are no ideas, I kind of have to motivate them and feed them inspiration. It’s always easier to come up with ideas when you’re with other people because you can bounce ideas off of each other and then form something new. I remember one time when someone was in a Room and couldn’t come up with anything, I gave them a prompt and asked them a bunch of questions like maybe this happens or what if they come across this. Being able to make someone feel inspired feels very good because you’re sort of helping spark an idea. 

Why do you enjoy writing? 

I’ve always had a passion for writing and it’s super exciting to start writing a story and create a world. I’ve met the author of Wonder, R.J Palacio and Kate DiCamillo and I got to ask them questions. Being able to talk to someone who’s so creative and has literally created worlds that you’re really interested in is super cool. I think that really pushed my passion for writing a lot more. I was thinking about that experience a lot when I was hosting the Rooms for writing meetings. 

What’s the book about?

We’re working on a story with 4 different characters. Each kid writes from their own character’s perspective in first person...and at some point it all comes together. They visit this mysterious house and find a book which turns out to be the work of spirits of children who are playing tricks on the kids. The characters are separate and their narratives intertwine and then they actually meet each other and work on solving the mystery together. We’ve done many outlines of the story and this is the one we’ve come to. 

How did you guys come up with this idea? 

It’s been on my mind for a while. If we write in third person we’d have different kinds of writing and it’d be all over the place. We decided each person represents a character in our own perspective. I’d write my story in first-person from the perspective of my character then another person would come in with their perspective so we wouldn’t all have to try to write in the same way as each other. We’re also making illustrations in each character’s style! 

Were you inspired by other stories?

We all like mystery and we all love adventure. I read a book about a house like that with puzzles and thought “that’s interesting we might be able to have our own spin on it but make it very different.” We were pulling inspiration from a bunch of different things and people. I think the way we were planning on writing the story with different perspectives is kind of like Wonder where there are different chapters where each character tells their story from their perspective. 

What is your writing process like?

I try to imagine myself in a scenario the character would be in. Say if I'm walking in a field, if I was a certain character how would I be thinking about this? what feelings would be going through my head? I’d try to go into the mind of the characters. It’s what makes writing in the first person so fun because you can really become somebody else like acting. 

I try to combine characters that I knew of that I really liked and sometimes I see somebody and think that’d make a good character and think about: “how do I make that character more interesting and how do I make the character seem good or bad? How do I turn them into someone who’s really interesting? And I think it’s just really fun. 


What appeals to you about creating alternative worlds through writing or art? 

There’s infinite possibilities. It’s so cool how you can express yourself or tell stories or bring people back into the past or the future and make them feel certain ways. I think it's cool how a story or a drawing can provoke emotions in others or just to make you happy because you feel proud of your work.  

Can you see yourself launching more longer form group projects?

I can definitely see myself do it. I think it’s an easier way to bond with people. I often think about starting projects with people on Primer “I wonder if I can just work on a project with a few people” not even having a clear idea of what that might be—sometimes I just have an urge to work on something with somebody and I can definitely see myself doing it.  

What else do you want the world to know?

Primer has really inspired me to become a better artist and storyteller and creator in general.

I want people to know that Primer is a really fun place to express your creativity and let it shine. I'm really excited to make more projects in the future. I want to put it out there that Primer is sort of like the ultimate perfection of what a children’s community could be. It's super encouraging and fun and allows children to be their best selves. Primer has really inspired me to become a better artist and storyteller and creator in general. I didn’t really think my drawings were that good at the beginning, but when I started posting on Primer and saw that people really liked them, it was really encouraging for me. It boosted my self-confidence while still helping me find out what I can improve on. Every time I log in to see someone working on a project even if it's not relevant to me—it just brings a smile to my face. 

P.S. We're also hiring! If you want to help shape kids' learning journeys check out our open roles.



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