Cartesian Graphics was started by Julia Roshkow in 2003 as a home business designing and producing handmade greeting cards. Making these cards involved gluing crystals and fabric swatches onto pre-printed grids, a rather precise and extremely labor intensive process. The business grew steadily over the next decade with hundreds of customers all over the world and a Best New Product Award win at the National Stationery Show. Julia also created custom designs for such New York City institutions as The American Museum of Natural History, The Hayden Planetarium, and The New York Botanical Garden, and was featured in The New York Times Holiday Gift Guide. By this time, the business was no longer home based, and had relocated to a studio in Long Island City, Queens, a formerly industrial area of New York City.
In 2016, after making many thousands of greeting cards individually by hand, Julia felt the need to move on. This new incarnation of Cartesian Graphics, which was two years in the making, began with Julia’s need to create wall art for her own home. Much, however, remains the same. Julia still works in an extremely precise and excruciatingly labor intensive fashion. She still glues crystals onto pre-printed grids. And she still works in the same Long Island City studio, a space she now shares with photographer David Gonsier.
In case you were wondering (and we’re pretty sure you weren’t but we’ll tell you anyway), the term Cartesian refers to René Descartes, the French mathematician and philosopher who, in 1637, introduced the idea of specifying the location of a point on a surface by using two intersecting lines, the x and y axes, as measuring guides.
Julia was born in New York City in 1955, and grew up in Inwood, a hilly community with beautiful parks at the northern tip of Manhattan. As an independent city kid, she developed an early appreciation for grids, using the grid pattern of much of Manhattan’s streetscape to find her way back home from various urban adventures.
She attended public schools, first in Inwood and then in Westchester, before going to Harvard, from which she graduated cum laude in 1977 with a degree in Fine Arts. A Fine Arts degree from Harvard in the 1970s was just another name for a degree in Art History, so Julia has never had any formal design training and, for better or for worse, is completely self-taught.
Prior to starting Cartesian Graphics, Julia worked as a physician. She received her medical degree from the New York University School of Medicine in 1984, and is Board Certified in Diagnostic Radiology with a specialty in Ultrasound. To this day, she retains an active license to practice medicine in the State of New York, although she hasn’t done so since 1996.
After leaving medicine, Julia designed flower girls dresses for Miss Pym, a company she started with Lisa Hall. Their dresses were frequently featured in Martha Stewart Weddings and the other major bridal magazines, and Julia was interviewed for Town & Country Elegant Weddings, a book written by Stacy Okun in 2001.
Fast forward to the present day. Julia both lives and works in Long Island City. She shares a loft in an old factory building with her husband and two cats. Their daughter used to live with them but she ran away to join the circus (yes, really).
Julia is interested in animal rescue, science fiction, and chocolate. She collects cat art, mid-century German pottery, book covers designed by Alvin Lustig, and ceramic fruit. She doesn’t have a Facebook page and doesn’t tweet, but she does answer all emails the same day whenever possible.
David is a self-taught photographer with a passion for visual arts stemming from a 10+ year career in modern/contemporary dance. He has lived in New York City his entire life. In his dance career he has performed across the United States and internationally, though most often recently at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
The studio that is home to Cartesian Graphics and David Gonsier Photography is located in the Court Square section of Long Island City, and is easily accessible from both Manhattan and Brooklyn. Our studio functions as both a work space and an art gallery. Studio visits can be arranged, and are by appointment only. To schedule a studio visit for Cartesian Graphics contact Julia at email@example.com.