Nichole Camarillo is an artist I have known for a few years now, having a mutual friend and being familiar with her body of work. At first you’ll be struck by her beauty, then you’ll come to see the beauty of her art. Conceptually, Camarillo’s intense imagery often explores themes of hedonism and nostalgia. For nearly a decade now, Camarillo has presented us with beautifully tormented observations of herself and the world around her. I chop it up with Miss Camarillo as we talk shop about her famous Bruce Lee print, Asian films, and working as a female artist.
We’ve been acquainted for a while now, for those that don’t know you, tell my readers a bit about you and your work.
Yikes. I’m having flashbacks of grade school, having to stand up and tell everyone my name and favorite color. *sigh* My name is Nichole Camarillo and my favorite color is gold. Haha. Well, I’ve had a relationship with art my entire life, and have been painting for about ten years. For the most part, I paint on canvas. My style of painting is a bit difficult for me to place. Mainly, because I’m always learning. So my style is always changing and growing. As far as subject matter, I guess you could say I hang out on the dark end of the spectrum. I really don’t mean to. I would absolutely love if I could paint rainbows and bunnies and feel satisfied. But… I don’t. I paint sadness, death, desire… things I can relate to. Things that I know. Letting those things go on canvas, that’s what makes me happy.
You seem to be a Jill of All Trades; photography, writing, painting, modeling, etc. What other challenges are you looking to tackle?
I never think about how much I actually do until someone lists it off for me. Ha… I guess I do have my hands in a lot. I don’t necessarily think I seek out new fields to play in, though. It just sort of happens. Necessity breeds invention. Something needs to get done, so I figure out how to do it. I’m never really thinking about what I want to do next, rather what I need to do now. For example, I might say, okay, I need a brick. And it’s not until I take a step back from gathering bricks that I realize, hey, look at that, I’ve built a mansion. I like to stay focused on painting, but that often results in building other skills. I think I’m open to everything, so long as I’m always getting better.
You have one of the most diverse shops on the web. From calendars, ornaments, to ties and skateboards, along with dozens of other apparel, I know from my own part time entrepreneurship experience that doing multiple jobs in the same time requires excellent focus and time management. So how do they all work together? What’s the biggest challenge?
Nichole: It absolutely does require excellent focus and time management. But all of the tedious, calculated, well-organized tasks that most people would get annoyed or bored with- I jump at them. I love those things. They’re exciting and interesting to me. I don’t know where that comes from, but it’s always been in me. I love to manage and organize. I love to focus and practice discipline. It just works well for me. The biggest challenges happen when I have to rely on others. There’s a lot of waiting, falling behind, things not getting done, work building up. I feel like I’m moving in slow motion and it makes me want to scream. Those things are in complete opposition of what I want and stand for. But step by step I’m getting to the place where relying on others will be as close to non-existent as possible. That’s when I’ll just be getting started.
Master of Self is one of the most expressive portraits of Bruce Lee I have seen. Explain how this whole project came about.
Nichole: I was hired by a company to paint a portrait of Marilyn Monroe. It’s really important to me to feel connected to what I’m painting. Paid work is no exception. So I ventured out into my own research. I dug through ridiculous amounts of photos, articles, bios, etc. Until I really felt who she was and I got this crystal clear image of the finished portrait. The painting itself was also a learning process. I had no idea how to execute the portrait the way I had envisioned. It was like nothing I had ever done before. I really planned it out and really took my time with her. Amazingly enough, I was able to match it perfectly. I loved the end product. Her strong sexual demeanor was presented so delicately. Then there were these deep crimson splats surrounding her, reminiscent of blood. Morbidly erotic undertones masked with such a sweet and heavenly exterior… It was perfect. And I wanted to do more. I kept the painting for myself and immediately started working on the project. They were all very different, but they had to be an artist, in their own respect, who was deceased. I hadn’t thought to include Bruce Lee because I had never felt connected to him before. Because it was strongly suggested that I consider him, I moved forward in researching him. Needless to say, during my research, I wholeheartedly decided that I must paint him.
There are many things about each artist’s life and work that I loved. But there always seemed to be one specific thing that really allowed me to connect in such a way that I could carryout their portrait. With Marilyn, it was her sexuality. With Bruce, it was his discipline. Such extraordinary discipline. For me, discipline was firmly planted in me at a very young age. I learned it’s importance and it was always something I could pride myself on. As an adult, there have been many times where I’ve thrown my hands up and just said fuck it. And I’ll have to fight with myself to kick back into gear. But every time I do, I’m amazed at what happens. And I wonder why I ever strayed. Especially when someone has a natural ability or talent. To have discipline as well… could you imagine? What kind of mastery you can achieve? It’s mind-blowing. And I really seen that going through Bruce Lee’s life. I really seen what could happen if you always chose to stay disciplined. To never step away from it. Bruce Lee was able to achieve an incredible mastery through his discipline. Which is why I felt the only title appropriate for his portrait was “Master of Self”.
Aside from Bruce Lee, who are some of your other favorite actors/asian flicks?
Nichole: Uh oh.. I’m not the greatest at remembering names. There are probably some movie titles that stand out, though. Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, The Happiness of the Katakuris, Oldboy, Uzumaki, Audition, A Tale of Two Sisters… I’ve watched so many different films. Asian cinema has some of the most twisted, creative, horrifying and entertaining movies I’ve ever seen. Equally intriguing and appalling. Ha. They’re absolutely fascinating to me.
What type of feedback are you getting from your Art Never Dies projects(s)?
Nichole: I’ve had such an overwhelming response to this project. It’s been so wonderful. Everyone seems to really enjoy it. I’ve been able to connect with audiences that I never have before. People seem to be coming out of nowhere. And they all have such great things to say. It’s crazy. I’m really grateful and really encouraged to do more in this series. I’m already deciding on which new portraits to start.
Do you think the artist’s gender makes a difference in the art world?
Nichole: I’ve never thought about that. I’ve never thought gender to make a difference in anything, actually. Probably even less in the art world, where your art can easily take the lead over you. Personally, I think it’s you, not your gender, or any other factor of that sort. If a strong, talented, positive, influential person was standing before you, selling you on what they have, with the passion they have for it… I think you’d be sold whether they were a man or woman. Believing in yourself, or not believing in yourself- that makes the difference.
Any upcoming galleries or events where we can check you out?
Nichole: Not right now. I more recently moved and JUST recently got my studio set up. That’s been a big focus. I’m getting back to business now and there will definitely be shows to look forward to this coming year. I’ll have to keep you posted.
Interested in keeping tabs on Nichole? Swing by her site and check out her shop and buy a few things! Her internet cookie crumb trail is below: