Meet Emma Gavaldon van Leeuwen Boomkamp - an artist and designer from Amsterdam who currently lives and works in Mexico City. She explores textures, colors, and patterns through her many mediums of craft.
Read our Q&A with Emma below:
Hello! I’m Emma Gavaldon van Leeuwen Boomkamp. I got this long and impractical name from my Mexican dad and Dutch mother.Where is your "home"?
I consider both Mexico and The Netherlands my home. The last few years I have been living in Mexico City. I grew up and studied in The Netherlands.
Tell us a little about you, and what you do!
Currently my work focuses on textiles and glass. I design rugs that are made by weavers in Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca. I work with artisans in Yucatán to create pieces with sisal. The last few years, I have kept my hands happy knotting macramé. I also design handblown glass. I enjoy working with all of these different techniques, the common denominator is craft. What is your preferred medium?
It's always the one I’m working on at the moment! I just started the first prototype for a piece where I try to merge macrame and glass. Fingers crossed, I hope it works out! I hope to be able to work with many different mediums over time. Do you have a favorite type of material you like to work with?
I prefer to use natural materials like jute, sisal, wool and cotton. I strongly believe any worthwhile project starts with good material. Especially when working with textiles the material makes the difference between something ok and something amazing.
Does the place you come from affect your work?
Yes! I believe the visual culture we grow up with is ingrained in us the same way language is. I am sure my own visual language is based on what surrounded me while I grew up. My whole life I have been constantly moving and traveling around with my mom. We’d move around between my grandmothers house filled with antiques and books, a large open spaced office my mom would create a home for a while, a buddhist retreat in the red woods in California and many different Dutch apartments and houses. On top of that I am sure the colors, textures and the earthiness of Mexico have impacted me. This non-stop moving around has taught me that every place has its own character and needs, and it has allowed me to grow a very rich visual vocabulary.
What was your process in becoming an Artist/Designer?
My whole life I have been painting and drawing, and I would as a kid I tell everyone I’d be an artist. But at one point becoming an artist or designer seemed like something unattainable or maybe even unwise. I got a degree in business and when I finished I knew I didn’t want to go in that direction. I decided to move to Mexico to create work and I am happy during these four years I have been here I have slowly but surely created more and more work.What is your design inspiration?
I love studying the work of other artists or walk around in cities and see the beauty that people have created. It is important to understand what has been created before and what is being made as we speak. But this kind of inspiration feels like it's borrowed. My favorite kind of inspiration just arrives like a gift, suddenly and very easily. Sometimes I feel compelled to draw when I’m in the middle of something else, and it turns out to be one of my new designs, and sometimes I just wake up with a very clear vision of what I want to create. Other times I like to earn the inspiration by just loosening up and keep making things until it feels right.What is your favorite knot or technique?
The basic knots are the best (square knot, half knot and clove hitches) because they allow for us to create infinite new combinations. When I do macramé, I love being able to just start and see where the knots take me.
Who is a design icon that you look up to?
What is the last great book/podcast that you read/listened to?
Akimbo a podcast by Seth Godin. I love his work. And I just started listening to Clever, a podcast about design.
Any advice for up and coming artists?
Be kind, nice and generous to yourself and to others. Creativity and inspiration are infinitely available to you. Make to make, it will make you want to make more and this will make your work better. Don’t even try to understand where you or your work are headed, it will spoil the fun of discovering it along the way. Approach creating like it is a privilege, because it is. And, most importantly, enjoy the process!What has been the biggest obstacle for you creatively?
I am always my own biggest creative obstacle. Now that I understand this more and more, I am able to get out of my own way more often.
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