Wild abandon SHOP Featured Contributor


Our shop has launched! Thank you everyone who has been patiently waiting!

This is just the beginning, my dears!  Soon to come: more art, original works, collaborations made specifically for the Wild Abandon Design shop, and one-of-a-kind restored vintage furniture and decor. We're so excited to show you what we have up our sleeves.  So keep visiting and visit our shop here on the regs!  To begin, we are proud to be offering works by Elsbeth Mumm, as well as work from our first few contributing artists.  

We couldn't think of a better artist to debut with!  Travel photographer Julia Gustafson's print 'Sunken Roots', pictured below, is available now!  A seriously badass babe, with a serious brain, and a serious talent with a camera.


We had the chance to catch up with Julia and ask her a few questions about her travels and work. She spoke with us from a cafe in New Zealand, taking a break from her tour of the South Island. Herself and her husband have been living in NZ since January, have completed the rounds, and are looking forward to their return to the States this December. Julia is 26 and hails from New England, is an avid reader, die-hard Lord of the Rings fan, and is low-key obsessed with magic.

How long have you been traveling for?

I've been in New Zealand since January of this year, but I guess I could say I've been traveling since I was younger. My first international trip was when I was 16 in high school. I went to 4 different countries, and since then I've been to, maybe, 17 countries. 

Why did you choose to live in New Zealand for a year?

Probably the accessibility of it, they have the working holiday program, so you can work and save up money for a year. Otherwise it would be difficult. I've also always been a fan of Lord of the Rings and amazing landscapes, so that was a draw for me to come here versus Australia, which offers the same program.

What made you want to live abroad for a year?

I had some friends who were doing this when I worked with them at a summer camp, which I always thought was really cool, and it seemed like a great experience. It's something I wanted to do before I settled down, so I guess it was now or never. The age limit for the working holiday program is age 30 so I had to do it now.

What do you like about traveling?

I like seeing new places, meeting new people, getting to know different cultures, trying new food... I don't know, I just think it's really interesting coming from where I grew up, going to see different places and seeing what's good about it, what's better about it, and also thinking about if I could, you know, if I would ever see myself living in a certain place. So far, I haven't found a place I like better than the States. It's interesting to see. Maybe France, somewhere in Europe. I don't think I could live in New Zealand. I miss the food back home, and it's too far away. The older I get, the more I appreciate being closer to my family and friends. New Zealand is about as far away as you can get. 

What do you like about photography, and travel photography?

I like to take pictures of the places I see. I guess, the thing about it is you just need to see the beauty in everything. You can be in a tiny little village and there's always going to be something to capture, some kind of beauty there. So when I'm traveling, I just try to find what makes each place special and try to capture that in my pictures.

So your aesthetic is pretty natural, it doesn't look like you do much editing. 

Yeah, I think the places I've seen are so beautiful, they don't need much editing. If I do any, it's just reducing a shadow, adding more light - but I try to keep it as close to what I'm actually seeing with my own eyes.


Tell us a little bit about your piece Sunken Roots and the Wanaka Tree.

So the Wanaka Tree - it's probably one of the most famous trees in New Zealand, and Wanaka is a tiny little town in the Queenstown Lakes District, in the South Island. It's got this beautiful, crystal-clear glacier lake that's surrounded by the Southern Alps mountain range. And it's just this picturesque little town, and in one corner of it, there's this tree that used to be just this fence post. There's a lot of agriculture, farming, around here, so it was basically just this grid-line for a sheep farmer. He had been using a new sapling as a fence post, and after 70 years, it's survived and turned into this tree. It's really beautiful when the sun is setting because the lake is so clear and reflective. It's just become this iconic tree that changes throughout the seasons. Any time you go there, there's people there trying to take a photo of it.

Actually, when I took this photo, I was waiting for my husband to get out of work, and I locked my keys in the car. After I took the photo I realized and had to call a mechanic. But at least I walked away with this photo. 


Where are you planning on traveling next?

Back to Maine, so we're heading back at the end of December. Christmas here in Wanaka, then back to Maine, and then hopefully after that, I'll do a little trip out to California. 

Last words?

I'm so excited to have my work in the Wild Abandon Shop! I can't wait to see all the other artists' work and collaborations you are working on. 

Thank you Julia! Check her out on Instagram, @chasingjulia, to follow her adventures. 


Wild Abandon Design Team