Introducing Camilla Engström

Camilla Engström is a Swedish born, US based self-taught artist whose colorful paintings are inspired by her own emotions. Her art reflects her feelings and since her use of nature and the female form echo Rodebjer's own values, we were inspired to explore her world further and find out how her past and her life today motivate her work.

– What art/artist/person has inspired you the most through your life? 

Probably Hilma Af Klint, Georgia O'Keeffe and Tove Jansson. I'm very intrigued by their art as well as their lifestyle. I love their work as well as independence. Georgia lived in the desert in New Mexico and Tove sometimes on a tiny island that she used her own boat to get to. Hilma never married despite it being such a societal pressure in her time. They all remained in control of their own lives and I'm sure it wasn't easy. I'm grateful for all the women artists who came before me who made it possible for me to live off my work.  

– What inspires you to create? 

It's like an inner urge to move energy out of my body onto a canvas. I feel very unfulfilled when I can't express myself through paintings so I keep doing it. I see so much beauty in nature and I want to share that with people. I hope that whatever I feel, they can feel too by looking at my paintings. Calm, awareness, joy, energy are examples of what I want to translate into painting. 


– Your art references your alter ego Husa, could you let us know a little more about Husa and her role in your work process? 

These days Husa is less depicted in my work however she helped me get my career started. I started drawing cartoons with her because I was tired of drawing fashion illustrations. I couldn't relate to those skinny bodies and it overall made me depressed. Husa was the opposite of that. She was round and fun and full of life. I'll always be grateful to her and she's still around. I'm about to release a sculpture with her soon!  

– How do you incorporate female body standards in your art? 

I don't really do that anymore. I got tired of focusing on the negative. My work is more about celebrating our bodies. I'm more interested in how amazing our bodies are. We can create life as well as sustain it by making food/milk. It's incredible! We're sacred and should be protected at all times. I can't believe all the violence our bodies are put through. It's so unfair and doesn't make any sense.  

– What would you like to change in the art industry? 

I'm tired of the people that flip works for quick profit. I miss the people who are genuinely interested in art and an artist's practice. I also want more diversity. White male artists are still ruling the art world and their work is more valued.  

– Does your past in the fashion industry inspire the work you do today? 

I think so! I think about colors a lot and the way they're used through the seasons. I also think that the way my work almost has a fabric like texture to it is inspired by my work with textiles.  

– Has there been one exhibition that has been the most important to you and why? 

I wish I got a chance to see the Hilma Af Klint exhibition at Guggenheim but unfortunately I didn't have the chance to go. However, the Agnes Martin retrospective they showed a few years ago deeply impacted me. I think that's when I learned that art can affect your mood and the way your body feels witnessing it. 

#womeninrodebjer is our virtual home to all the voices that inspire us and that would like to share their story, any story, with us. Thank you Camilla for telling us your story!

Read more stories

Go back to