Please introduce yourself. Who are you? Where did you grow up? Where do you live?
Hi, my name is Camille Torres. I'm a native East Bay Girl, but I predominantly grew up in Sonoma County. As an adult, I returned to the Oakland area and now reside in San Pablo.
Tell us more about what you create. What style(s) do you work in, mediums, etc.
I am a metalsmith, who focuses on jewelry and wearable sculpture. I mostly work in sterling silver, oxidized brass, gold fill and 14k gold. I'm really not partial to one metal over another. I love them all. They all have different temperaments, strengths, beauties and frustrations. Much like people. The mediums I choose to work with are mostly informed by color, the way they are worn and how they will react to the wearer. For example, I avoid making brass jewelry that has direct contact with the skin, as it turns skin green. Gold and silver are more friendly in these cases.
Where can we find your art besides at 4th Street?
I'm in 3 locations in San Francisco, Rock and Rapture, Love and Luxe, and I am premiering a bridal line at Atelier de Modistes this Fall. I'm at Sun Studios in Pacific Grove and the Jack London State Park in Glen Ellen. On the East Coast you can also find me at the Heidi Lowe Gallery in Delaware, and Ritual in Philadelphia. I will also be expanding to Oregon and a couple other California locations this winter.
How long have you been creating?
How long have I been breathing? I've always been drawn to the arts, but my first real project was probably when I was 5 and my grandmother taught me to embroider. Textiles were my first love, but metal is my great love!
When you're not making your art, what do you do?
I love to dance. I'm a bit of a Zumba freak. I work in the corporate production world, but even that is a bit creative. I really love to decorate my house. In a way, everything I do is related to art in one way or another. I think the creative process is a state of mind. I believe in beauty and my art is an extension of that, but I find that my expression shows itself in the most mundane ways. The way food is presented at the dinner table, the composition of my sock drawer. Things like that. Maybe I'm just neurotic, but I enjoy organizing my life in such a way where I am constantly visually stimulated and inspired.
Is creativity a luxury or necessity for you? Tell us more about that.
I think both. As I mentioned before, I have organized my life in such a way where everything I do is an act of creativity. But as a person who has had the opportunity to study art and explore my imagination in a way that truly challenges me ... That is a luxury. I am deeply grateful for the opportunities that I have been afforded. Not everyone has the ability to pursue their dreams the way that I have.
What obstacles have you had to overcome to lead a creative life?
I struggle with depression from time to time. At these times it's difficult to push through and motivate, but I always seem to find my way. I've also always tried to navigate away from haters. I don't need to subject myself to people who are unsupportive because I'm already my own biggest critic. I figure that position is already filled so I tend to surround myself by people that inspire me and aid my positive trajectory.
Did someone in your family, a friend or teacher introduce you to your creative side or have they helped you along the way?
Yes. Almost everyone in my family is an artist in one way or another. My Mother and husband are my biggest cheerleaders. I've also always been attracted to creative people. But I will say that the person who inspired me to become a jeweler was Lucia Antonelli. The full story is on my website, but I knew her as a child and her work changed the way I saw jewelry and has deeply informed my creative process.
Where do you find inspiration?
Everywhere. I'm particularly interested in the way human industry and nature collide. The rogue dandelion that will not be thwarted by a sidewalk. The way glass is smoothed by the ocean. Pigeons. I love pigeons!
What’s on the horizon for you and what you do?
I have two basic lines of jewelry: The Imaginal Cell and the Valley of the Moon Collection. They have both reached a level of maturity that I am content with (for the time being) so I think it is time for me to start working on one of a kind pieces again. Designing is my favorite part of making. I have a lot of ideas and I they need to be let out.
If money wasn’t an issue how would your life change with regards to your art?
Gems. Lot's of gems! I would also be more prolific without a day job. I've always has a fantasy about starting an atelier. I would spend more time designing and creating wearable sculpture.
What inspiring advice would you give to other creatives be they established or just starting out?
Learn how to become your own best friend. Whenever I get down on myself about my art or otherwise, I put my best friend in whatever scenario I'm obsessing over and ask myself "How would I feel about it if she were in this situation?" "What advice would I give her?" It sounds silly, but it works. I'm usually harsher on myself thanI am on the people I love.
Also, watch this:
I watch this TED talk at least once a year when I need a boost. It's has helped me with my creative process time and time again. I think all artists should see it at least once.
Who are some artists that inspire you?
Peter Schmid from Zobel Atelier, Jolante Bromke, Martin Bernstein, Wendy Ramshaw, to name a few. I'm also deeply inspired by the Art Nouveau Era. Erte, Mucha and Lalique.
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Recommended Artist Resources
Frames - Cheap Joes
Matboard - REDImat
Paint - Blick Art, Cheap Joes
Plastic bags - Clearbags
Shipping supplies - Uline
Shoe Making - blog
Supplies - ASW Express
Postcards - PS Prints