ARTIST INTERVIEW: Beatrice Valenzuela
We spoke to Beatrice Valenzuela, designer and EPCF co-founder about her life story and creative journey. Inspired by the light and colors of both her native Mexico and her adopted hometown of Los Angeles, stylist, artist and designer Beatrice Valenzuela creates work that exudes a vibrant, dynamic warmth. Forms are organic, flowing, feminine; shades are vivid and deep and drawn from the natural world – the sun blaze orange of the mango, the flawless blue of California sky.
Encompassing clothing, shoes, jewelry and accessories, Valenzuela’s work is a distinctive reflection of her background, her surroundings, and her family. In 2009, Valenzuela debuted her now iconic shoe line. Handmade and elegantly simple, Valenzuela’s footwear quickly developed a cult following and her unique aesthetic began to extend to not only to accessories and clothing, but to interiors and immersive environments – an Airbnb interior she designed with her partner, the designer Ramsey Conder, as well as the opening of a local boutique and the founding of the Echo Park Craft Fair. Throughout, she has been creating, dreaming up everything from candles to wall hangings and producing a vast range of creations – beautiful bags, intricate jewelry in silver, brass and wood.
Last spring the designer launched her new clothing line, an assortment of thrillingly feminine skirts, dresses and tops – each piece imbued with the artist’s playful but discerning eye. Like all her work, regardless of medium, the pieces mirror both the designer’s past and her present – from her vivid Mexican childhood to a California community in full creative bloom.
Describe the path that led you to the work you do now. Did you take any big risks to get where you are?
I have been in this path my whole life. From the first memory I have, I remember loving fashion and dreaming to one day live a fabulous life. A life that would let me be free to do and make whatever made me feel happy and alive. I grew up modeling as a child and then got into doing hair and makeup professionally. Then into styling and finally into designing. Designing has been a slow process for me. I started designing shoes, then jewelry and just a year ago I launched a clothing line. It has been so empowering to be able to share my point of view.
The first big risk I took to follow my own path was living the nest. My parents weren’t supportive of me going away to work in hair and makeup. I was 18 when I made my decision to leave their grasp. They wanted me to stay and continue to work for them but I was ready to leave their line of work. I did hair in our garage and saved up money to leave. I opened a bank account in California and deposited all of my money there. When I had enough I wrote a note and left.
Where do you see your work going in the next couple of years?
I still have so many more things to make. I would love to add more shoe styles to my collection. I would also love to design a denim collection. I just recently made my first textile design and I would love to continue in that path.
Do you have a daily working routine? What is it like?
I don’t really have a work routine. I am all over the place and all of my days are different from the one before. I eat when I’m hungry, lay down or pause when I can or need to. Sometimes I get to design but truthfully most of my days are spent running around managing production details and errands.
Did you have any mentors or important creative influences?
My most important mentor was Collette Berger-Forestier. My brother and I lived with her in Paris, France for 2 years. She was the first person to present to me that a woman can be multi faceted. Before then I thought being objectified was just part of being a girl. I thought I would just have to move through life using that to get to my goal. She was 50 years older than me and she was the most modern woman I had ever met. She really was ageless. We were such great friends. She talked to me about art, film, psychotherapy, communism and existentialism. She was the most important person in my life while I was coming of age.
What do you do, or where do you go to seek fresh ideas or renewed creative energy?
I like to look for inspiration for example new silhouettes, lines, etc. online and in magazines. The more soulful inspiration – the kind that inspires me in a deeper level – comes from traveling. Leaving the country fulfills me in a very profound way. Looking at textures, color, and eating new food reenergizes me. I really enjoy meeting new people and talking to them about their journey and how they are experiencing life. Those human exchanges are most important in my creativity process. All of these things combined combust something inside of me and then come out in my work in little spurts.
Did you have any artists or creative people in your family? If so, how did they influence you?
My father is very artistic. He and my mother always wanted us to take music and art classes. Both my brother Joe and sister Linda are incredibly creative and inspire me very much. The drive to create and learn new things and methods came from deep within me though. I always sought out fashion and other people with similar interests. When I didn’t find them then I went on my own.
What other artist currently working do you admire?
I am very inspired by the ladies of Dôen. Their clothes and prints are so feminine and comfortable. I feel so elegant when I wear their work. The way they run their company is astonishing. So many women working together and creating awareness to many different causes.
Do you feel like you’re part of a greater community of artists? If so, describe why?
Yes, being a part of our Echo Park Craft Fair makes me a part of a greater creative community. We are all thriving together! We are like a group of manta rays gliding along energizing each other and our community.
How are you inspired by the environment around you, how does home/city/nature you live in, affect your work?
I love having close encounters with wild animals. Ive had very good luck with them. I’ve seen so many in my life. Just yesterday I was standing next to a rattlesnake. She rattled at me but didn’t bite. Maybe she was reminding me to shed my old skin, or “become the magician or enchantress: transmute the energy and accept the power of the fire” (this is from Medicine Cards by Jamie Sams & David Carson). I always feel that these animals bring me some kind of spiritual healing medicine. It takes time for me to meditate on what it really means. It’s always a good reminder to know that we are living on the same frequency and that I’m just another living organism on this huge planet Earth.
What do you hope to share with those who purchase your art and bring it intimately into their lives?
I hope that a little bit of me stays with them. That as they go through their day they can imagine what it was like for me to dream up that moment. It’s such a great feeling when I see I girl I’ve never met before walk down the street wearing my stuff and look hot as fuck!