Meet the artist behind the Grace Coffee Co. art

If you've ever walked into a Grace Coffee Co. location, you've seen and admired Julie Vornholt's artwork.
Julie Vornholt sitting on a riser in one of the Grace Coffee Co. locations in front of floral murals
Courtesy of Julie Vornholt
Julie Vornholt working on the murals at the Park Street location of Grace Coffee Co.

If you’ve ever walked into a Grace Coffee Co. location — and chances are you have considering the business has grown from one location to six in the past two and a half years — you’ve seen and admired Julie Vornholt’s artwork.

Throughout all of the locations, Vornholt has painted floral motifs on the walls, vines in the bathrooms or the signature butterfly wings.

Vornholt, an Indiana native who studied at the Herron School of Art + Design, is a full-time artist. She moved to Madison in 2017 and since then has been busy doing murals, along with other art projects, including her favorite — portraits of people on canvas.

“I like to zone out and be alone and be able to paint,” Vornholt says. “I like to paint really, really big which is great for murals because they’re big compared to canvas. I just like to paint. That’s all I want to do.”

 

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Vornholt started working with Grace Coffee Co. when they opened their second location on East Washington Avenue in fall 2019. In the spaces, she takes owner Carlos Falcon’s ideas and creates her own spin. She says Falcon likes mandalas, flowers and wings photo-ops so she tried to bring those concepts together for the first mural and all the murals thereafter.

Since Grace is a coffee shop, she also integrated her own interpretation of the vines from a coffee plant. Before creating the Grace murals, Vornholt says she wasn’t someone who painted flowers, but the more she creates murals with flowers, the more she looks around and gets inspiration from the plants around her.

From the first murals at East Washington Avenue, she went back to the first State Street location. Since then, she’s also created the art for the Middleton, Sun Prairie, the newest Park Street and soon-to-open Verona locations of Grace.

 

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Vornholt does everything freehand. “I know where my path’s going to go and I just start with a longer structure and then I put flowers in and I fill it in and just make it up so it’s sort of at the top of my head,” Vornholt says.

While she may have a design in mind, as she’s working on pieces, she lets the art guide her, especially since. After working on six Grace Coffee Co. locations, it’s hard for Vornholt to choose a favorite. “They all have a special place in my heart,” she says. Though she says East Washington was one of the most fun to paint because of the bathrooms where she painted everything, including the ceiling.

Many people have seen her designs at Grace and want a similar style of art in their own business. Vornholt found herself busy throughout the pandemic doing a couple residential murals and small business murals, including Itty Bitty Bookstore in Stoughton. She also works with Cedar & Spice to paint installations at Hilldale Shopping Center.

“A lot of small business owners were telling me they want something kind of like a little treat for their employees when they get back or their customers,” Vornholt says. “It was a good time to work because all businesses were closed so I could get in by myself and work by myself … People are really excited about art.”

Vornholt is currently working on her sixth Grace Coffee Co. location, the largest location yet at 5,000-square-feet, which is set to open soon. “Grace lets me paint cool,” she says. “They let me do these wild things.”

 

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Vornholt loves seeing her art living in the world. If you ever see her pieces or take a photo in front of it, tag her on Instagram @julie.vornholt.art.

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