What inspires me…

Who has had a major influence on your work? Flow asks illustrators about the designs or artworks that continue to inspire them. Illustrator and designer Valesca van Waveren kicks off this new series.

“The Canadian magazine Uppercase published a book in 2009 that features the work of artist Camilla Engman. I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it at the bookstore in Amsterdam. I had graduated from the HKU University of the Arts Utrecht two years prior to that, and most of my work was creating serious illustrations for magazines. I was looking for a way to make things that were ‘sweeter’. I really wanted to do that, but there wasn’t much opportunity for that at the magazines I was illustrating for at the time.”

In love with her work
“In Camilla Engman’s work, I saw that it can all be done side by side. She had created funny little creatures, but also very energetic, sometimes grim, paintings. And it all came together in her editorial work. But there’s also so much more to her work: the natural colors that she uses, the love for what is imperfect, the vulnerability, the attention to nature and all that emotion. It spoke to me and I fell in love with her work.”

Different focus
“Apart from all the different styles that she uses, this book also showed me that there is much more to do besides illustrations for magazines. Camilla also illustrates designs for cups and sneakers, and she makes paintings too. Naturally, at the art academy I had been aware of that, but I had become too focused on my work for magazines. Ceramics gave me an outlet to make some cuter things. And by showing that side of my craft a bit more, I received more assignments—like the coloring pages I once made for the Flow Book for Paper Lovers, for instance—which gave that part of my work room to grow.”

“If I become too sensible when working on an assignment now, I turn to this book to bring me back to a certain mood—one where I am able to work from a gut feeling, where I feel true to myself. Ultimately, I want to make something that touches you or that makes you want to reach out and touch it. That’s kind of the ‘Camilla gauge’ for me.”

Illustrator and designer Valesca van Waveren lives in Amsterdam with her husband and son. She draws, paints and makes ceramics.