Home > 6 Questions > The 6 Questions with Julie Reis, Optima Graphics

The 6 Questions with Julie Reis, Optima Graphics

AuthorNext week my eldest daughter Nina turns 18 and will soon be graduating from high school. Julie Reis joined Optima the year Nina was born and truth be told, I think I’ve spent more time with Julie than my own daughter.

As with many of us at Optima here and gone, we are like a big strange family. Julie and I have always worked well together and eventually she became a very important part of the Optima Creative team. Her ability to read my mind is, well – kind of creepy. She understands the design demands for both grand format and traditional offset print. Much much more important, she understands the client. Her role is not always as up front with customers, as for example, someone in sales would be, but make no mistake, she has had a very big influence on our industry and has helped me grow each and every year.  I’ll add that her bravery in the face of some grim setbacks would give pause to anyone that complains! 

1. Tradeshow industry lore is that we all just fell into tradeshow and once you’re in you never leave. For many people that is certainly true. For others, they leave but a part of them remains.  How did you get into the business?

 – Oh this is more than just lore, its life! – In more ways than one. After I graduated with a degree in graphic design I was working at a chain copy/print shop and hating every moment of it. An opportunity for a job at Optima came up and I jumped at it. I had only planned on staying for a few years to gain experience and then move on to my next adventure. Nineteen years later here I am, still at Optima!

And who inspired you to grow into your Tradeshow career?
JR – I would have to say Mr. Camarato. And this isn’t just because he’s my boss. But he gave me a chance to work in the design department and helped me hone my design skills. I was able to get to know some of our customers really well and work directly with them to create something amazing. It was worth all the headaches just to hear someone say that their graphics were the hit of the show.


Author2. What would you be if you were not in Tradeshow?

JR – A professional Sharpie tester, I have a thing for sharpies! Truthfully I’m not sure what I would be, it would probably still be something in the arts.

3. Without considering the customers you visit, focusing only on the location, what is your favorite city to hang out in for business travel and why?

JR – Oh this has to be a trick question! One cannot pick just a single city. But if I must, I would have to say London. I’ve been to London too many times to count and I always finding something new to get myself into. The city is so easy to navigate and the locals are always eager to help. Whether to give you directions suggest a good pub or to tell you a great tale. I feel at home when I’m in London!

Author4. What experience do you recall as a nightmare when it happened but can sit back and laugh about it now?

JR – Well, last August I had a pretty good scare… In 2010 I broke my ankle on vacation, thank you Muir Woods! Over the next few years I had to have my ankle fused and my foot rebuilt. I went through a lot of pain and life lessons. Fast forward to August of 2014, one of the screws started backing out of my heel. Within days of seeing my doctor about having the screw removed my foot went septic and I ended up in the ICU for twelve days and the hospital for two months. They weren’t able to save my foot. But I now have a new shiny foot that is way better than what I could ask for. Thinking back on the two months I spent in the hospital I had some pretty exciting adventures that I really do laugh about now. I’ve been told I should write a book about it. I’m not sure what section of the bookstore it would go in, comedy, drama, horror or lifestyles…


Author5. Do you have any hobbies? How does your hobby influence your industry work and vice versa?

JR – I do have a few hobbies I enjoy. One of my more recent hobbies I’ve taken up is woodturning. There is nothing more relaxing then taking a blank of wood and turning it into something unique. To see a piece emerge right in front of you is awesome. It really helps to get the creative juices flowing when I have the proverbial “Creative Block”. I have made so many candle holders that I’m running out of room to store them. I love to travel, there is nothing better than seeing the world around you. Where you have been and what you have learned will always be with you. I always bring my experiences with me whether it is in my designs or how I interact with others. Photography is one of my greatest passions. I have had a camera in my hands since I was a youngster. It is a great way to take a little piece of the places you’ve been to.

Author6. If you could send a message to yourself day one of your tradeshow career what advice would you give yourself?

JR – Enjoy the ride! Sure there will be rough times but the good ones definitely make it worth it…

Thanks for sharing your story and pics Julie! (especially of your pet RATS!)

Thank you for sharing your story and pic Julie!
(especially of your pet RATS!)

Have someone that you would like me to ask “The 6 Questions” ?
I thought so, just send me an email at gcamarato@optimagfx.com

What is The 6 Questions?

A clever friend of mine, we’ll call him Harold Mintz, just to use a name, once hipped me to a trick. Harold explained that whenever he is at a party and the conversation is slow he loosens things up with a question. “What did you go to school for and what are you doing now.” Everybody has a story – Brilliant!

Piggybacking on big H’s idea, I’m running a new blog series titled The 6 Questions. I have some of the icons of our industry, folks you all know, lined up and ready to reveal the how, why and whatever. Our tradeshow industry is packed full of some of the most interesting people. They each have a unique story to share. Thanks for reading!   ~ g

About our Author
Gary Camarato is the Vice President of Marketing & Creative Development at Optima™ and has been in the Trade Show industry since 1992.

  1. November 6, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this!!! This is very relatable, although thankfully not as intense medically. A Graphic designer since the 80’s, I had back surgery due to a fall while on vacation leaving me with 6 screws, lots of pain and many stories! And i also have a love for sharpies LOL!! Thanks for sharing your story Julie!

    • Julie
      November 6, 2015 at 2:08 pm


      Thanks for the comment. Maybe we need to start a Sharpie support group haha!


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