Born in Chicago and raised mostly on the East coast, Speed dropped out of art school early. After a period of travel and intermittent employment (house-painter, horse-trainer, waitress, stock boy, farm worker, etc) she landed in Austin in 1978. Since then she has devoted herself full time to working in her studio and teaching herself to paint. In her words, “I keep hours just like a real job, only longer, and in my spare time I read books, drink tequila, garden, and drive around West Texas.”
In 2004 the University of Texas Press published a large book of her work, “JULIE SPEED – Paintings, Constructions, and Works on Paper” with essays by art historians Elizabeth Ferrer and Edmund P. Pillsbury.