Camilla Engstrom is many things. We first met her when she modeled for one of our optical campaigns and later began spotting her whimsical embroidery or illustrations on apparel, totes, and objects from collaborations with brands like Kara, Opening Ceremony, and The Gap. She’s now one of the internet’s favorite artists with a huge instagram following; her account full of sneak peeks at her pieces and projects.
Engstrom is perhaps best known for a recurring character, named Husa, who appears in many of her pieces often caught in mini struggles with big issues like identity, sexuality, relationships, and psyche - depicted in a playful, sweet, and accessible way. We met with Camilla in her Sunset Park studio, over croissants and the new Solange album, to talk about her many talents and what she’s currently working on. We can’t wait for her show on November 11th, at Deli Gallery in New York.
Why do you create?
I create because it makes me happy.
What is your favorite medium to work with?
I switch between watercolors, acrylics, and ink.
Before you began illustrating and painting yourself, were there particular artists that inspired you?
Did you find that new artists began to inspire you later in life, as you got deeper into the practice or further developed your personal style?
I’m always looking at a variety of artists new and old; it hasn’t really changed for me.
Tell us a little bit about the path that led you to where you are today, which may have contributed to the birth of your recurring character, Husa.
I started off working in fashion and got tired of the typical fashion figure, so I started to draw a chubby little figure that became Husa.
Can you remember the first time Husa popped up or became clear to you?
Probably about 1.5 years ago. I wanted to give her a name and my friend helped me name her.
Did it come about organically or had you been actively trying to find a character to embody what you wanted to express?
Not at all. It just happened.
What does Husa mean to you today?
She's my alter ego/best friend.
Are there any other recurring themes, colors, and/or motifs in your work?
A lot of nudity and a lot of pinks. Lately, though, I've started to give my figures clothing.
Do you have any before and/or after rituals involved in creating and your creative process?
I like to meditate or do something relaxing, like drink tea, beforehand.
Do you listen to anything (music, podcast, e-book) while you work?
I like when it's quiet but, if there are people around, I need music or a podcast.
Describe your studio or ideal workspace in three words.
Bright, spacious, quiet.
Photos by: Heather Sten