When most people think about the process of building empires, they often consider them to be built "from the ground up," where you start from the bottom with nothing and spend time turning it into everything you've imagined. This will always be an inspiring way to turn dreams into reality, however, I've noticed that many of us big dreamers and abstract thinkers envision our buildings to grow from the opposite end. With our heads often stuck in the clouds, we see the process of building as starting "from the sky down." The majority of our inspiration comes from the sky, so our ideas are sparked from gazing at the clouds and the stars and then we start to build them down to the real world. There is a 22 year old dreamer who looks up to the sky for her inspiration, and it shows through every beautifully captivating piece of artwork she creates... Meet Camille Lauren, a visual artist from the Caribbean who now resides in Toronto. Camille is currently studying Illustration at OCAD University and is on the journey of expressing her passions and sharing them with the world through color. She has established her own brand, art of Ciel, through which she creates pieces at live painting events and for commission. This past week we had the opportunity to link up with Camille to learn more about what inspires her as an artist and what makes her, her.
Darla Magazine: Tell us a little bit about yourself — your background, interests, hobbies, etc... Anything you want us to know!
Camille Lauren: Hey DARLA readers! My name is Camille Lauren, and I’m an Artrepreneur (Artist/Entrepreneur). I’m a Creative soul. I express my creativity through paint, design, modeling as a muse, fashion, and I’m quite the music enthusiast. One of my favourite things to do is ride around the city with my friend, a producer who goes by the name of The Desperadough, listening to new music. I love to scan the Toronto skyline and envision one day meeting the musicians, singers and rappers I’m listening to, who inspire much of the artwork that I create. On the weekends you might find me painting live at events where there is poetry and music, bringing their words and sounds to life in a vividly imaginative way. Or I could be trekking to thrift shops or fabric stores on the hunt for the perfect threads for an upcoming photo shoot.
DM: What inspired you to start painting and what is the meaning behind your brand name, art of Ciel?
CL:I believe that artists are born. As early as 4 [years old], I remember my mom transforming a regular boiled egg into a wild bird creation. She used a piece of carrot for the beak, and rested the peeled egg on a bed of pasta as the bird’s nest. She used to do little creative projects with me, and over the years I found myself gravitating more and more towards everything bright and expressive. One of my favourite things to do was melt different colours of plasticine on the space heater in the living room. Was it messy? Sure, but with wondrous results.
Art of Ciel means, "art of sky" in French. Actually, the reference to the sky along with the colour blue was inspired by a few things that influenced me in my childhood. The first was the book called “The Bluest Eye”, written by Toni Morrison. The novel centered around a young woman whose life was burdened by many difficulties, and her only solace were her trips to the candy store. One of her favourite sweets featured a girl with blue eyes on the wrapper, and to her this was the ultimate form of beauty. She would imagine herself in better circumstances, possessing these coveted blue eyes, and found ways to escape from her dire circumstances through the power of thought. When I read this book at 14, I found that gift extremely impressive, although I wished that she could have accepted herself as she was naturally.
The second experience took place at the age of 11. There was a girl who attended my Public School at the time who was of mixed ethnicity; she had these beautiful blue eyes, long curly dirty blond hair, and her name happened to be Sky. I admired her unique features through the window of the yellow school bus whenever I saw her.
The sky holds a lot of promise for me, always did. I used to look up when I walked home, and imagined my future in the clouds. Naming my business Art of Ciel was a way of capturing that expansive potential.
DM: What is the art scene like in Canada? What are some recent events/opportunities you've been able to experience?
CL: The art scene in Toronto is very lively. Throughout the week, there’s always something happening — whether it’s an exhibit opening, a music showcase, concert, business seminar, book launch, pop up shop... The list really goes on and on. Of course, it’s helpful to know the right people, to give you the access to the more exclusive events, but I believe that there is something for everybody here in the city.
Recently, there was powerful event entitled, ‘This Is Your World Too, 2015' Youth Leadership Career Symposium. I had a mentorship role connecting with youth who were interested in pursuing a career in the Visual Arts. My mentor Sharon Wickham created this event to inspire youth, and guide them in their formative years towards a lucrative and passion-fuelled career, and every time I am involved I leave renewed with new reasons as to why I chose this creative field.
I’ve also had the pleasure of showcasing at a show called S I X T Y M I N U T E S. It was organized by an extremely talented Artist in Toronto, Shi Wisdom, and hosted by the equally dope artist, Spek Won.
S I X T Y M I N U T E S is a monthly art installation, highlighting artists from Toronto & beyond. Each artist has sixty minutes in which to create a unique experience for their audience, exhibiting their art, whatever it may be. The space will figuratively be a blank canvas, on which each artist will create his or her own environment/experience. As a sign of gratitude or appreciation, it is encouraged that the audience tip the artists, via the designated tip jars around the space. The more compelling the performance/exhibit, the more compelled the guests will feel to tip their artists; certainly a challenge on both ends of the spectrum. It was an amazing experience, one that I hope to take part in again!
I do have a few art exhibits and live painting features coming up- I usually do a good job of keeping the "shows" section of my website updated with the details (when, where, etc.) But as of right now, I’ll be showcasing art at an Awards Show celebrating Young and Gifted Individuals, as well as painting live at a Celebrity Chef Men Who Cook event.
DM: What do you hope to achieve through your artwork? What do you hope to bring to the world with it?
CL: I hope to spread joy, love and wonder with my colours. I just want to tell stories that aren’t shared often. Gritty stories, polished stories; tales of the urban Goldie Lox outsmarting the wolves and navigating the concrete Jungle. I hope that my art eventually creates a space for people to celebrate themselves more.
At the “When Women Rule The Night” show, in celebration of international women’s day, I live painted and set up an exhibit of my “NaturalistaGLAM” series of artwork. I remember a lady remarking that my work had a very strong aura — that [my pieces] emanated energy on a high level. That’s one of the best things I can hear as an artist. I want my work to move you. To come to life, in your own eyes. Even when I live paint, I usually try to encourage audience members to take part if they can with a brush and some colour. It creates a stronger connection, and a livelier piece.
DM: I bet that taking charge of your career and venturing into such a creative field such as visual art can be super scary at first! What is some advice you'd give to a younger version of yourself in need of inspiration to get started?
CL: You’re right about that. The biggest thing is learning how to handle disappointment, and also managing your confidence level as you are networking. It can be easy to become intimidated by people who have been practicing their craft for much longer than you. That’s when you remember that it takes time to build up a skill level, and also to gain the access and exposure that you need in order for people’s familiarity with your work to grow.
I also wish that I knew how beneficial my mentors would be, and knew where to meet them sooner. I’m extremely blessed to have the mentorship of the business powerhouse and international best selling author/motivational speaker, Pauleanna Reid, while I’m in her New Girls on the Block program and beyond. I’ve gained friendships and close creative bonds with other amazing individuals including Sharon Wickham of Hylton House Fashion, and A.T.A.P Productions, along with Hans Poppe, an incredible Fine Artist who I met through Toronto’s REMIX Project. Hans’ techniques and insights have positively influenced the way that I use acrylics and glazing to create my work.
Check out more of Camille's amazing work by visiting her site (http://artofciel.ca) today. You can also contact her via email at Camille@artofciel.ca + follow her on Instagram @camillellauren! #ArtofCiel.
[these things take time.] the poetry book available on amazon.com.