Inspired by nature, we meet illustrator Camille Romano

Meet Camille Romano, a Finland based illustrator and visual designer, drawing inspiration from nature to create an abstract illustrative style that blends subtle textures and bold organic palettes.

I’m Camille Romano. I was born in France, growing up in the east part of the greater suburb of Paris. It was very much countryside: a village, vineyards, fields and forest, even though it was only an hour away from Paris. From a young age, art class was always my favourite. Perhaps because I didn’t have to express myself with words; there was no talking required. I guess I was a good student, but quite subdued by nature, often off in my own world; at least that’s what my teachers would say.

After high school, I went on to study graphic design in Paris for a short time. Though soon after I quit my studies and moved to Finland. That was about 9 years ago now. Right after graduating from my BA in graphic design, I got my first job in an agency as a graphic designer. I did that for a couple years before deciding to take the leap and go freelance during the winter of 2015.

“Portrait”, 2017, Personal paper cut illustration

I currently live in the wild (!) northern part of Helsinki, surrounded by forest, with a river nearby. I work from a shared studio space, alongside four other illustrator friends, in the colourful district of Vallila. We mostly work on our own projects but every year around November-December, we organise a Christmas boutique where we sell our prints, offer drinks, and meet new people.

“Calendar 2018”, 2017, My illustrated calendar for 2018, part of my self-made paper products range for retail.

I mostly use my bicycle to get to the studio (not too much in the winter though!). The trip from my house to my studio is a big part of my daily inspiration. It’s about 12 km one way through forest and open space, which have now become recurring elements in my illustrations. Nature is where I draw my inspiration, always.

I like to work quickly, and be spontaneous with the materials I use, composing quickly and intuitively. I like to be able to adjust and make corrections without too much trouble.

Camille Romano

Over a year ago, I started working with paper, cutting shapes, more or less intuitively, and making compositions out of them. I liked the immediacy. I realised that I had a lot of leftover trimmings, but didn’t not want to just throw them away, so I started to use them as well. It was probably a kind of turning point for my visual style. The scraps pushed the conceptual and imaginative side of my work. They’re shapes that I could never come up with deliberately; I found myself with material, shapes, and colours to give meaning to. A few months ago, I also started including handmade textures in the paper cuts, because I wanted to add a certain depth and dynamism to these flat shapes.

“Hidden Surprise, The Cherries” 2017, Personal paper cut illustration included in my 2018 calendar.

“Black Pearl”, 2016, Textile pattern

My other passion, aside from illustration, is textiles. I guess the two are not that different- it’s still about colour, volumes, shapes, scale, techniques, combining to create a certain style. I knit a lot. Recently, a couple of months ago I started work as a sample knitter for a Berlin-based knitwear designer. I also crochet and just started to learn how to weave. I’m interested in dying techniques, embroidery, handmade garments and the whole “slow-fashion” movement. Handcrafting is a good way to balance the time spent in front of a computer screen.

I like to observe the seasons, colours, shapes and compositions. It’s all simple and complicated at the same time. It feels like the more I look, the more I see.

Camille Romano

I enjoy the simple things, spending time alone and with my boyfriend, visiting exhibitions, and having coffee with friends. Otherwise, I spend a lot of time walking/biking and wandering around in the forest. Observing nature is a great source of joy for me, always inspiring me in my work.

“Sleeping trees”, 2017, Illustration for a group exhibition in Helsinki

If I had unlimited budget and time I’d like to make an ambitious, large scale work, a mural maybe, taking over a space, decorating it all by hand. I’ve always liked the idea and wanted to work on some window décor or an interior, space decor-related project. I’d also love to combine illustration and my passion for textiles, maybe create some kind of large scale weaving project. Oh… and why not a self-initiated magazine!

I tend to rely on paper, scissors, a couple blades, cutting mat, my hands, a scanner, drawing tablet, computer, paint, ink, oily pastels and crayons. A pretty straight-forward tool-kit! In our shared studio, I have two desk for myself. One for my computer, scanner, drawing tablet, empty coffee cups, and the other for my paper-cutting, which constantly looks like a paper cemetery… a pile of precious trimmings, shapes and half cut sheets of paper. I’ve an ever-growing collection of leaves and dried plant-parts too in a couple of notebooks. I look at them once in a while, when I’m in search of some inspiration, organic shapes, shades of green, brown, yellow, and red.

Paper Bee Studio

I mostly borrow books from public libraries, which is a very common thing to do here in Finland, compared to the “bookshelf culture” I grew up with in France. I do own a few books that I’d have a hard time giving away:

1. “I am That” by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

2. “Siddharta” by Hermann Hesse

3. “Kafka on the Shore” by Haruki Murakami

4. “The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka

And if I could include a bonus fifth choice…“Hiroshige, One Hundred Famous Views of Edo”, a special edition by Taschen with traditional Japanese binding and page folding. It was a present to myself a few years ago, when I had a well paying, regular salary!

“Voodoo Jazz Club”, 2017 Set-list poster, logo and visual identity developed for a new jazz club in Helsinki.

I’m currently working on an upcoming group exhibition in Helsinki that will open in December this year, on the theme of darkness. I’m also working on a secret book project and a few new prints and products that I plan to sell during our studio’s Christmas boutique in a couple of weeks.

Over the past couple of years, Helsinki and some other cities in Finland have been booming with murals and massive-scale illustrations on the side of apartment buildings and walls, etc. I love the one that Eero Lampinen, a great Finnish illustrator, made in the city of Oulu. I wish I could create a piece on such a huge scale, so it could become a part of people’s daily lives.



Instagram: @camillejulieromano


Posted on Dec 3rd, 17 by | Twitter: @lisahassell

Founder & director of Inkygoodness, Lisa is a published writer and arts journalist, focusing on creative business, graphic art and illustration and design education. Her words regularly appear in Computer Arts, Creative Bloq, Digital Arts and IdN.

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