Puerto Rican Women Killing It in the Independent Art Scene: Camille Reck

With the internet being so easy to access, it has become easier for independent artists to find an audience and let their work be known. As a result, a variety of movements, collectives, and scenes have found a way to pave their path. The independent art scene in Puerto Rico is no different. Recently, many artists from a variety of disciplines have found platforms that have made it easier for them to share their work. In addition, small businesses such as Electroshock in Santurce and Rio Piedras, bars like Off The Wall in Mayaguez, book stores like La Casita Books and Gifts in Aguadilla, Libros AC in Santurce and Libros 787 online, and independent festivals like Feria de Libros Independientes y Alternativos and Tintero: Festival de Cómics y Arte Independiente de Puerto Rico have provided up-and-coming artists a space to display their talents. “Puerto Rican Women Killing It in the Independent Art Scene” is a series of  interviews that provides a glimpse at some of the women who have recently gained recognition in the art scene. Though the artists are asked similar questions, some are asked queries surrounding their work, specifically.

What’s your name and what do you do in the arts?

My name is Camille Reck. I studied animation and I’m especially interested in visual development for animation. I adore painting and illustration and how to use colors, lighting and design to evoke emotions and story.

What got you into the visual arts?

I grew up reading a lot and watching my favorite movies in VHS over and over. I was always surrounded by stories and was captivated by how you can represent them visually. I collected illustrated books (still do!) and was always able to visualize the stories in my head, so it was natural for me to try to draw them. When I discovered animated movies were actually drawn by people, I was hooked! It seemed to me that making a drawing move in an animation was like making magic. It was this discovery that brought me to formally study art.

How did you develop your style?

I believe artists never develop a definite style, it's something that is constantly evolving! It depends a lot on what interests me at the moment. However I think it always has something in common whether it’s the themes represented or the colors etc. I have always been interested in drawing stylized people (mostly women) and using bright colors inspired by the Caribbean tones that surround me. I love fantasy but I especially love how symbolism can be used to represent real life issues.

How has it evolved through the years?

I was always very timid and my art suffered for it. I was the type of kid who always colored inside the lines and took pride in being perfect. Taking art classes challenged my views and pushed me to try new things. Now I am trying my best to bring my own thoughts and experiences into my work, and I’ve been working very hard to not worry about things being perfect and have fun!  

What are some of your influences and inspirations?

I take great inspiration from the people who surround me. Books, movies, and music have always been a very important part of my life and they have helped shape my world views and art style. There are also many, many artists whose work I admire and either consciously or subconsciously I bring in aspects of their work into my own. I started being super inspired by animated movies and illustrated books. Then when I started studying art I took a lot of inspiration from classic artists like Alphonse Mucha, Renoir, Monet, and Van Gogh. But I mostly attribute who I am as an artist to Dutch artist Lois Van Baarle aka Loish! Discovering her work on the internet made me realize there was a whole new art world I never knew existed. Digital painting and illustration of beautiful characters, fantasy and magic! She was also super inspired by Mucha so I immediately connected to her work. Actually, after I discovered her work I bought my first drawing tablet and used a computer drawing program to learn digital painting. She’s been my biggest inspiration since then. Right now, I’m also super inspired by artists I found on Instagram like Devon Bragg, Lana Jay, Doki Rosi, Aveline Stokart, Jackie Droujko, Sibylline Meynet,  just to name a few. I am super excited to find more and more female artists working in a previously male-dominated field!

Is there any other form of art you wish to pursue? If so, what field and why?

I love sculpture. I have always liked modeling things out of clay, so I’d love to take ceramics classes.

What do you think about the current state of the arts in Puerto Rico?

I think art isn’t seen as something very important right now sadly.  I wish it weren’t so, but artists have to make money to live somehow and right now I think there are more opportunities outside of Puerto Rico, especially for animation. But that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing going on, lots of artists are taking it upon themselves to work and be successful despite of the situation on the island.

What do you think about the current state of the independent scene in Puerto Rico?

I grew up very frustrated with the mainstream art in the island. Now I think with social media especially more types of art can be seen and new voices can be heard. I think young emerging artists are not afraid to totally change previous art conceptions. It’s a very exciting time for artists.

If a young girl came up to you and said she wanted to be an artist, what would be your advice for her?

Listen to your heart, only you know deep down what you want. Study the basics, study other artists’ work and what you can learn and apply to your own work, but never compare yourself negatively. Don’t get discouraged if you’re not where you want to be, everybody has to start somewhere. Don’t be afraid to voice your own thoughts and experiences; everything has been done before but not by you. You have a unique way to see the world.

What is your biggest goal right now?

I want to be able to support myself financially by doing what I love.

What do you seek to achieve with work?

I want to be able to tell the stories I wish I had when I was growing up. And hopefully help change people’s views and inspire others to create as well.


All the pictures in this article were provided by Camille Reck