For this Pink October Kickstory and Altai teamed up to help raise awareness about the importance of early prevention and diagnostic of breast cancer.
We invited two amazing illustrators for a chat, to talk about their work, their influences, and why women are always the main theme of their art.
So #wearpink with us and understand a bit more about the matter.
For our first interview, we talked to Camila Rosa, an illustrator from Santa Catarina, who now lives in São Paulo. Not only are her illustrations visually amazing, but Camila also uses her art to express her opinions on contemporary issues, using her work to expand her voice and get the message across to more people. From her hometown of Joinville to Curitiba, New York, and São Paulo, she told us her path to get to where she is now, and how realized she can make political art and still live doing what you love.
“I’m Camila Rosa, I’m 29 years old, I’m an illustrator, graduated in product design and today I work as a freelancer. I’ve worked in design agencies and in industries as a product designer. I’m from Joinville, Santa Catarina but I’ve lived, in this order – São Paulo, Curitiba, New York and then I came back to São Paulo, with the idea of staying here this time. I work with a brand and for myself, in fact, working with brands was only possible because I did stuff for myself – my personal projects brought me the big projects. I really like to work with women as my theme, not only women but I also approach many other political matters.”
It's very clear that women and feminism are common topics in your illustrations. Why are they so relevant to you?
camilaThis whole feminism thing has been with me for a long time now, it goes back till when I was 13 because it was a very debated topic in the Punk Hardcore movement that I was a part of. I was very young, I listened to some feminist songs and I’ve considered myself feminist since then, but I only started to illustrate many years later, with like 25. This was in 2010, the same year a started the Coletivo Chá (Tea Collective) with four other friends in Joinville, where we started doing Wall prints because we also wanted to draw and put our stuff on the streets. These prints had no themes, at the time I used to draw a lot about animal, and I had this relationship with veganism, but I didn’t yet have that political side, which was something that I was constantly frustrated about, but I didn’t know how to do it, I think I was lacking some references.
At some point the collective started getting really big, we were called to give lectures, workshops, we even started to travel. in the end, we were able to make a name for ourselves in the city, we won public notices so we could give workshops to the children and everything, it was from that moment on that I began to understand that I wanted to work with illustration. But I still worked for the industries, that when I graduated and decided to move to São Paulo so I could try and make a living out of this. I worked for an illustration studio here, and with this I started getting more in contact with the world, just in my first few months I got a job, which to me was pretty cool, for a sketchbook company, illustrating some covers, illustrating stuff for events, and from there one thing led to another, but I still didn’t have that political theme yet.
In the meantime I started to participate in some fairs, I had my own online shop, I had already released two t-shirt collections, but at the time I still worked as a designer, illustrating only at night and on the weekends as a secondary thing really, which didn’t let it evolve as much as I would like it to, or allow me to call myself an illustrator. But in 2016 I had the opportunity to go live abroad and have the time to illustrate full time, that’s when I told myself “it’s now or never”. I even remember my last day at work at the agency, I told my boss that I was kinda sad that I was leaving and he said to me “go and be an artist”.
After that, I started to draw through the entire day and to post on Instagram and when I see some job I want to do, I’ll go after the person until she notices me. So when I was in New York, I discovered a collective, which is actually only one girl called The Bettys. She participated in independent fairs and sold products made by women when I saw this I thought it might be an opportunity to open other doors. So I kept posting on Instagram, gave some likes, momented on some photos until she called me to work on a zine and this was the first work I got there. After that, I started getting to know people, who did what, and who worked with whom, and these jobs ended up bringing a lot of stuff my way.
What was the most relevant work you did?
camilaThe work I did that changed my career was for Refinery29, a really big fashion portal – they have a lot of followers and that made me get all my others jobs in New York. That’s when I started to put feminism in my work, when I realized that there were artists that above all, lived out of art, something that until then I thought it was impossible – people lived out of selling in independent fairs, some products in shops, doing some work for brands, always a bunch of different things. Besides that, I noticed that a lot of artists worked the human form without actually rally how to draw a human figure, and I had that thing where I wanted to draw everything perfectly. When I realized that people did all kinds of characters, it really opened my mind – I thought to myself, I really want to draw girls, something that I always wanted to draw with the themes that I want to work with, from that point my career to a turn. Of course, a bunch of other things also helped me at the same time, like Trump winning the elections and feminism becoming very popular really helped me to take this big turn. Trump’s election made the sales of political work rise a lot, I didn’t see as much political work before.
I really found myself, I feel very comfortable doing what I do, saying the things I say, it’s exactly that same cliche of working with what you like. but of course, you have to work to get here, a lot, always. (laughs)
When I came back to Brazil, I had the feeling that I achieved what I wanted to do in New York, but I hadn’t done almost anything here yet. I got here last November, and I made up my mind that I needed to start phase 2, which was selling my stuff in the market here. But I didn’t have to do a lot of that because living abroad really helped me and by February I already started to get a lot of work.
Your Style of Illustration is very unique. When and how did you develop this style?
camilaActually, this is a constant such, because it’s actually always changing according to your references you have in the different moments of your life. It took a long time for me to get to a certain eye that I liked, but in the agency, I learned that life is made of references. A lot of practice of course, after I stopped and started drawing always I was able to really develop my work because you have more time to test things out, change and evolve.
If you look at my drawing from a year ago compared to now, they’re totally different. To change or not to change is something that I always ask myself, it gives you a certain insecurity, but if you take a look, all artists go through phases. In the end, it’s all a process, it will never end, there’s no way that I’ll do what I used to do five years ago, and I’m still doing what I did a year, but in a different way.
I get agonized when I always do the same thing, even with color. If you look at my Instagram, there’s the purple phase, the pink phase, and now I’m in a red and green phase, and I don’t know why it’s very natural.
What does Illustration mean to you?
camilaToday means everything, it’s who I am, it’s what I do with my life. I don’t see myself working in an agency anymore, I don’t see myself doing anything else. After I was able to find myself, I just want it to go up from here, I just want to do more stuff, that’s where I feel happier – but I don’t want to work only to make money, I want to always have a reason. The other day I posted an illustration against Bolsonaro, I didn’t even have the time to illustrate, but I was so agonized that I stopped everything I was doing because I need to speak, and the way I speak is through my drawings. For example, I can’t use my Instagram as an influencer speaking or taking pictures, I’m not like that, I’d rather be in the background and put my illustrations as my way of expression.
I use my drawings as a form of enhancing my voice and being a bit more relaxed with myself. If not, I think I’m not doing anything, that I’m not changing anything. I might not have any direct result, but it might have a little since I’ve gotten a lot of messages from girls saying that my work helped them in some way.
Now talking about sneakers, what's your relationship with sneakers in general?
camilaI don’t know how to explain, but I like them a lot! I only wear sneakers and it’s what I spend the most on, like with clothing and stuff, if I had a lot of money I would buy a lot of sneakers (laughs). I try not to consume too much overall, but I really like going to the stores and looking at the colors and I have some friends that are way more fans than me. I’ve been going through a basic phase, wearing a lot of black and white ones, years back I had more colorful ones – now I have a pink one (laughs).
Converse is a very classic brand and has been a part of many peoples lives. What's your history with the brand?
camilaWhen I was a teenager and I was a bit more boyish than I am now, wearing big shorts, during more of a skate phase of my life. I would wear black Converses and I loved this sneaker, then I had a white one, and I only stopped using them because my I changed my tastes a little bit, but I think they’re beautiful.
This interview is part of a collaboration between Kickstory and Altai, with partnership with Converse for Pink October, to bring awareness to the cause. What made you want to participate in this campaign with us?
camilaBecause it’s for a bigger cause, this was the main engine that fueled me to participate. I am very fortunate to have a lot of work at the moment and be able to choose what I want to be a part of, and when I saw the presentation, I thought it was awesome to see my name up there, alongside so many other illustrators, it was awesome, really. Not to mention the motivation behind the campaign itself, because to me it’s really important to put myself next to things like this, what’s important is that we put this whole idea forward.