LR Loves: Camilla Engstrom

We love Camilla Engstrom's statement paintings + illustrations, and recently took a closer look at the imaginative process behind her one-of-a-kind pieces during a trip to her Gowanus studio. Below, Camilla introduces us to her illustrated counterpart, Husa, and reveals the inspiration behind her artistic focus.

You were born in Sweden, worked in Shanghai and currently live in Brooklyn. How has your cultural journey shaped your artistic mindset?

I think my work is influenced by all the places I visited and lived in. It’s hard to separate myself from my practice. My work also is influenced by the places I travel to.

Where do you most often look for inspiration to create?

I love to travel, but if I don’t have the opportunity to do so I like to go on YouTube and watch documentaries. I like ones about female artists and recently have been watching a lot footage of Georgia O’Keeffe. I also like to visit museums and art exhibitions. Meditation is great for inspiration as well. It helps me discover rooms inside myself I’ve never visited before.

Husa, the female character who appears in many of your illustrations, has an innocently charming appeal. How has she evolved as you’ve grown as an artist?

I used to include Husa in everything that I drew or painted, but now I think I have become more comfortable depicting scenes that happen around her or in her world. I’m happy just knowing she exists and even though she’s driving the work, it’s often from behind the scenes. She is a rollercoaster of emotions often stemming from my own personal mood or feelings- but these days she has been very zen.

Many of your drawings direct attention to the natural body and self–how do you find that your personal background + lifestyle reflects your artistic focus?

I grew up with my brother and my dad. We never had a full body mirror at home and I didn’t think much about the way I looked. It wasn’t until I got older I realized men found me attractive. Suddenly I was a human being that men sexually desired. It made me feel gross and uncomfortable in my own body. I was so confused. No one had prepared me for that feeling. My body is just a body like anyone else’s. Everyday I focus on making the female body less sexualized through my work.

LR products are designed for the creative + modern woman. How do you find that your art and our designs complement each other?

I think LR designs are happy and colorful just like I feel on the inside. The same way I paint happy things when I’m happy: I like to dress colorful when I feel celebratory or confident.

You were born in Sweden, worked in Shanghai and currently live in Brooklyn. How has your cultural journey shaped your artistic mindset?

I think my work is influenced by all the places I visited and lived in. It’s hard to separate myself from my practice. My work also is influenced by the places I travel to.

What is an important lesson you’ve learned or a mindset you’ve developed that any woman can benefit from? 

Work with and support other women. Stop comparing and competing.

Earlier in your career you decided to leave the fashion industry and pursue your passion for art. What advice can you offer to women who find themselves at a similar crossroads in deciding their future?

First, you need to determine what drives you to pursue a new passion—whether it is your heart or your ego. If you feel joy and happiness when thinking of doing what you want to do every day then you’re on the right path. You’ve got to be passionate and you have to have patience because it will take time no matter how hard you work. You also need to see failures as a tool to refine your work.

You can see Camilla’s work at her solo exhibit “Flora,” on display at the Cooler Gallery until April 22.

LR

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