In The Artist’s Studio – Klaudia Kampa
August 1, 2011 in In The Artists Studio
From her studio in Hertfordshire, we delve into Klaudia Kampa’s hugely creative life and successful career as an artist. Her early inspiration and creative influences, how and why she chooses to express her ideas in such powerful, colourful and playful works; sometimes permeated by a dark or sinister undertone that reflects elements of her own personality, gender, domesticity, longing and just real life.
Read our full interview with Klaudia Kampa below…
Was there someone or something that motivated you, when you were young, to start creating your own art?
I would say that I have always been self-motivated, there wasn’t really any particular person that I can remember, but I think I did get a lot of inspiration from looking at different things.
When I was young I really liked looking through various magazines and art books. I found the work of Pablo Picasso, and he quickly became one of my favourites, and ultimately an influence on my work.
There is no history or interest of art in my family so I wasn’t often taken to museums or art galleries to get early inspiration. I have more of a musical family so was encouraged to be creative through music rather than art. Almost everybody in my family plays the piano.
How did it make you feel when you first started creating art?
When I was a child it was just like playing because it came so naturally to me. When other children would go out and have fun roller skating I would be in my home creating little comic books, drawings and stories, just the sort of art that you would expect from that age group. I actually used to give away some of my comic books to my friends and family as Christmas presents.
Do you believe that generally people are born with a basic artistic talent that they just have to develop?
I think you do have to have some kind of basic craftsmanship to be able to use specific techniques. For me, whatever the finished project is, the viewer has to be able to look at it and see that it has obviously been created by a professional and not an amateur. If someone was to look at my work and think that a child could have produced it (unless the child has the same talent as Picasso) then I probably wouldn’t bother!
I think that anyone could learn a technical skill if they are determined enough though. Creating art is just like playing the piano, you can learn technique to a certain degree but then you have to be a natural performer so that you can perform in a way that captivates people, rather than just using your skill mechanically. With art you have to be able to turn your inspiration into a finished piece – so you need that natural creativity, a stroke of inspiration, and the learned technique to deliver it as you imagined.
Was there ever a point in which you stopped creating art?
I’ve never stopped creating; I’ve just been through different phases of using various art forms that weren’t of the traditional type. For example, when I was in Frankfurt, I was an art director of an internet forum for architects where I would be creating art on a computer and making little flash movies.
I have always felt compelled to be creative. As an art director I had to work very long hours and so didn’t have much spare time, but I always had a couple of painting commissions that I was able to work on during evenings and weekends.
Have you taken any formal training or education in the arts?
When I was 17, I attended an art school in Luxembourg which specialised in ceramics and pottery. There, I studied for a degree in pottery because I wanted to learn that technique to eventually use it for sculpture. Once I graduated, I went to an art school in Strasberg, France, which was quite a fun experience!
What effect did art school have on your work?
The teachers at the school always pushed students to keep their own individual style. They would never force anyone into a corner and make you produce work that was more commercial or sellable, they would always support your artistic style so you would feel quite sure that the work you produce is great whether anyone else likes it or not.
At the time when I was at school, around twenty years ago, there was really only a handful of students that would follow the conventional route of painting and sculpture. The majority of art students were more interested in photography and computer based art or design, which were very popular then. However, that meant I was very lucky because the teachers could concentrate on me more as they were only small classes.
When did you first realise that you could earn through creating art work?
It happened quite early really. I remember when I was 17 my brother, who is two years younger than me, was given an art project from school. It was a drawing competition for children of that age group in Luxembourg, where they had to design a poster with the theme ‘save the water, save the planet’ for a government run water board. However, my brother can’t draw at all so he asked me if I would do it for him.
I did the drawing without thinking about and it ended up winning first prize, which was a two week five star roundtrip to Canada with a helicopter trip over Toronto. He had to take the trip because the drawing was in his name, but I felt very cheated because all I got out of it was a Walkman!
I didn’t learn my lesson though – there was also another incident a couple of years later in which I made a three-dimensional painting for my younger sister’s art homework. Her art teacher was so impressed that she bought it from her! We split the money though this time, so I didn’t feel too robbed!
How did it make you feel when you sold your first piece of art?
Again when I was 17, and my mum had mentioned to our family GP that I like painting and drawing. So one day when I went for a check-up I showed him some of my paintings, which were just acrylic on board – he ended up buying every single one. So he was the first person that brought my work.
It did feel quite weird though because I had only gone for my chest pain and he was more interested in my art than examining me! But of course it was a really great feeling and it also helped me in deciding to follow my love of art, and later to go to art school rather than go down the conventional route of studying for A-levels.
What has been your main aspiration or goal as a developing artist?
My goal has always been to make good enough art to be able to sell every single piece that I produce. That is not because of material greed, but I’m more motivated by the satisfaction you get from having creating something that other people love to the extent that they actually want to personally own it.
Is your working environment important to you?
No, it’s not really important to me; I’m too messy for that! I do think that having a structured day is far more important than your immediate environment. While I was living in Frankfurt, I had quite a small flat, so no choice but to use my bedroom as a studio and then fall into the bed next to where I had finished work. It wasn’t ideal.
Can you relate to the expression that being an artist is a very solitary sort of profession?
Yes, but in a good way – I find that for me it must be a solitary profession because of the concentration factor. I need to reduce distraction to a minimum when I’m working.
For example, if I am trying out new techniques, which I have been doing a lot recently, to master each one and achieve the desired effect I must focus and work hard. I will keep on experimenting and trying different things over time, because it probably won’t look right straight away. So in cases like that, being able to concentrate is extremely important, and that’s hard when you have other people around.
What do you find most difficult about your work?
What I really can’t stand, is starting a piece of art and then thinking half way through that it’s not going to achieve anything, it’s going to look horrible, or I’m not going to be able to finish it. It’s really frustrating when that happens, but luckily for me, I don’t feel that way very often.