Meet the Artist: Camilla Teodoro

Meet the Artist

In this series, we get to know the Artists behind the work with ten questions about their practice, their space, and their ideas. These are their Stories.

Camilla Teodoro’s Shop

Camilla Teodoro is a Filipina-born illustrator based in Toronto, Ontario. Her art is often based on observations and little delights found in her environment—which is a central theme of her illustrations as they often include playful characters who interact with their surroundings. Her aim when creating these characters is to transport viewers to a place that captures the joy and sometimes the mischievous parts of childhood. She finds inspiration in everything from old children’s toys, odd knick-knacks found in thrift stores, and the natural world.

When did you develop an interest in art? 
Back in grade school, my eldest sister who is three years older than me took an art class as an elective during her first year of high school. I remember her showing me drawings and projects that she completed in her class. Ever since that moment, I began drawing on printer paper with any drawing utensil that I was able to find. I drew a lot of plants, faces, and objects around my house. I would also look at drawings on the internet and try to imitate their technique. My interest in art developed more once I entered high school. When my teachers outside of art class started to notice my dedication and love for art, they began to encourage me to make more art and even bought some prints and original artwork from me. Looking back, I’ve always made illustrations, I just didn’t know the word for it until the last year of high school. 

Tell us about your process when creating an artwork. 
My process begins with writing in my sketchbook. In my sketchbook, I would write down the image that I want to create as well as the colours that I want to use for the illustration. For instance, my idea for ‘The Dolls Are Alive At Midnight’ began with the idea of creepy dolls on a shelf. From that idea, I wrote down words that describe the feelings or essence of the image—words like: unsettling, creepy and playful. Once I have a solid idea going, I move on to the best part of the process which is the research. For that piece, in particular, I looked at the I Spy Little Toys edition, I went to thrift stores, and antique stores and looked on the internet for 19th-century dolls. Once I gathered this research, the most tedious part of the process came from drawing. On average, I think it takes about 10 rough drafts for me to get the final one. Despite this process being the longest, it is also a crucial part of my practice because it gives me a lot of room for play. Once I get the final drawing, I transfer that onto watercolour paper (I use the cold-press Arches watercolour paper) and I paint everything by hand! I realized from making personal work that my process is very time-consuming and requires a lot of care and planning. While that can get a bit frustrating at times, once I am in the groove, the whole experience becomes very meditative and tiring in the best way! 

Can you tell us about the characters you depict in your work and what they represent to you? 
My characters are inspired by the way children often depict figures in their drawings. To me, these characters represent the playful, rambunctious, and sometimes mischievous parts of childhood which I think are also themes present in a lot of children’s drawings. I really like how these characters are always happily roaming in an environment where everything is possible!

Is there a character you find yourself drawn to the most? 
There are no particular characters that I am drawn to the most, I think it changes every time I make an illustration. Right now, I am obsessed with drawing butterflies! 

‘The Parade’, gouache on illustration board, 8.3″ x 20″

How has your work evolved throughout the years? 
Ever since my first year of university, I always knew that I wanted to make illustrations that were playful and colourful but didn’t really know how to do it. There was a lot of trial, error, and exploration that happened in five years that were important to my practice. I think that my work now has finally matched the vision that I had back in my first year. I remember feeling uneasy whenever I made illustrations for school, but now that I have gotten more practice I would say that I feel more confident in my skills which I think is a good indication that I have evolved both as a person and as an artist! Equally as important, I noticed that my technique definitely got better. My paintings are more refined and I feel like my design choices are more deliberate. I honestly look forward to how my work will evolve one or two years from now, I love welcoming new inspirations in my work! 

If given the opportunity, what is your dream project?
I would love love love to illustrate a children’s book about toys—specifically, the history of each plaything! I feel like that could be really fun. 

What are you working on at the moment that you can share with us?
One of my goals for 2022 is to branch outside of painting and drawing. This year I decided to try out screen printing for the first time! Currently, I am in the middle of planning a bunch of prints for August and September. I have been enjoying the whole process quite a lot, so I can’t wait to show everyone what I have been working on. 

How does your immediate environment influence the type of art you make? 
I seek a lot of my inspiration from the outside world which is why it is important for me to constantly be outside of the studio. I enjoy cycling, walking around my neighborhood—and when I get the chance, hiking. Dedicating time outdoors is just as important as dedicating time to sketching because it allows me to find new inspirations. Whenever I am surrounded by nature, I am immediately inspired by everything I see! I would take a lot of photos of various plants, mushrooms, and animals that I encounter on my little hikes. The city can get really overwhelming and overstimulating for me hence why I can’t really come up with good ideas while I am out and about. I love spending time in libraries, small coffee shops, and trails. This gives me time to think and find beauty in mundane things. 

The playfulness of childhood and children’s toys are major themes in your work. Do you have any favourite toys from childhood you look to for inspiration and if so what are they?
Oh, this is a good one! I used to follow a lot of Tumblr accounts that posted photos of weird and wacky objects that are found in thrift stores. Interestingly, I used to work at a thrift store during my uni days, so I would also find toys that were well-loved. My favourite items from thrift stores were dolls with very dishevelled hair—a bonus if they can open their eyes when you pick them up! There is something so fun yet creepy about these toys! I especially really like drawing dolls because I can play around with their clothing and also with their facial features too. 

What’s 1 thing people would be surprised to learn about you? 
I wear a lot of black/neutral clothes for someone who uses a lot of bright colours in their work! 

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