art people

Art for the Community/Camille Walala

Hitting the Wall

By Kelly Beswick

You’ve probably found yourself staring up in wonder at her pastel graffiti on Brick Lane or her graphic murals around Stoke Newington, but as artists and designer Camille Walala reveals, it took her quite some time to find her artistic voice, but she got there in the end and we’re so glad she did

Tell us a bit about yourself Camille?
I’m originally from the South of France and came to England to work. I did a variety of different jobs, working in restaurants, bars and even selling cheese, before deciding to return to studying, taking a degree in Textile Design at the University of Brighton.

How did you end up in the East End?
I’d always been drawn to the area. I love its individualism and vibrancy plus the fact it has such a strong, artistic community, so when I finished studying it just seemed natural to head back East. It’s my home and I’ve been living here so many years now I know practically everyone.

Your work is so incredibly distinctive, was it a style you hit on straight away?
No, not at all. For several years I struggled to find where I was going with my art. I kept doing it because I was driven to create, but I didn’t think the work I was producing was good enough. But slowly, over time, I became happy with the designs. Although I still make some crap ones now and then!

What are some of the inspirations behind you work?
I love the patterns of African tribes for their colours and graphics, as well as optical art in general and the Memphis Group of the 80s in particular.

How did you end up painting on walls?
I don’t just paint on walls, I paint patterns on every surface I can (indeed her recent commissions include shop fronts, pop up restaurants, interiors and clothing). I do love the vast expanse of a large wall though, and the sense of satisfaction when it’s completed.

Do you now make a living from your art?
Yes I do, but it hasn’t been easy. It’s taken me 10 years of hard work, jumping on any opportunity – bars to decorate, doors to paint – most of the time for free. But now, to finally be paid for what you love doing makes everything that’s gone before worthwhile.

What one piece of advice would you give an up and coming artist/designer?
Don’t give up. Just keep going at it and providing you’re truly passionate, you’ll get there in the end.

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