Artist Spotlight: The Urban Atelier

By Kristen Fields, DVI Intern

We caught up with Tracie Thornton, owner of The Urban Atelier, and got a glimpse into her life as an artist and the future of her business.

tracie @ artwalk
Tracie and her mother, Rosemary Thornton, at Art Walk.

Q: What first brought you to participate in the First Wednesday Art Walk? How long have you been a vendor?

I actually was invited to participate in one of the first Art Walks by Tony Allegretti when he was with Downtown Vision. I moved away for a while and when I returned, decided to get involved again. So consistently for almost 3 years.

Q: What is your favorite thing about participating in Art Walk?

The people! As well as the other artists and the community that supports Art Walk coming out each month. I love the fact that people come and bring visitors or those new to Jax with them because they know it will be a great time.

Q: How / when did you first become interested in making recycled art? 

It started out as a simple appreciation of design. Since college I’ve been a collage artist and have always collected packaging I thought was interesting and used it in my printmaking and graphic design work. Altoid tins, beer and wine labels, bottle caps, corks and more. In recent years, I extended that aesthetic to the books and jewelry I make, as well. You name it I’ve probably collected it at some point. My desire to recycle has since morphed into an understanding that I am giving things with a past a second opportunity to tell their story; another life or ‘reincarnating’ them as I often say.

Q: What is your favorite medium? Why?

It changes. Plus, I love them all! It would be hard to choose. I will say right now I’m working on a collage project. The media I work on is on a rotational basis: collage, printmaking, bookbinding, jewelry, sculpture and graphic design. I’ll work in one medium for months and then switch up when things feel stale. The one thing I have to do all of the time is design since I do all of the graphic design work for The Urban Atelier.

Q: What things inspire you to create your work?Urban A

Experiences. Life. History. Music and books are definitely at the top of the list! I love collecting quotes. I often get them from poetry and lyrics; writing in general. Experiences are also important. I have to get out and do things so that I have stories to tell. That’s what my art is about: life from my perspective.

Q: What are your other hobbies?

I love concerts. Love, love, love music. I also love to volunteer. I just recently began working with Art In Public Places (Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville). I’m truly interested in bringing public art to those parts of Jacksonville that don’t really have much of it.


Q: What plans do you have for the future of The Urban Atelier?

I have three goals for The Atelier. First, I want to do more gallery shows this upcoming year. Second, I’d like to focus on introducing my jewelry to museum stores especially since much of it is inspired by history. Third, I’d like to continue to work on making Art Guardian, an Atelier project that focuses on preservation of the indigenous arts, a reality. Overall, I’d like to continue to grow and contribute to the world that is art.

Q: Do you have any good advice for emerging artists?unnamed

These are rules I do my best to live and create by:

1. Keep going. Even when you think there’s no hope. There’s always hope.

2. Always do your best, regardless of whether you’re presenting your work at a small festival or a world-renown gallery.

3. Don’t compare yourself to others. Your success may not look exactly like someone else’s.

4. Give yourself credit for any progress you’ve made toward your goals.

5. You are your best cheerleader. Don’t ever be afraid to promote your work. If you don’t who else will.

6. Always treat your supporters with kindness and respect.


Interested in checking out what The Urban Atelier has to offer? Be sure to check out her display at the First Wednesday Art Walk on February 3 from 5-9 p.m. This month’s theme is “Dance your HeART out.” For full Art Walk details, visit