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5 Questions for: Artist and Designer Valerie Capewell

IT WAS THE COVER OF GRAY’S RECENT JUNE/JULY “GOOD LIFE’ ISSUE, FEATURING A WILDLY COLORFUL LOOK FROM SEATTLE FASHION DESIGNER PALOMA HURTADO, THAT FIRST GOT VALERIE CAPEWELL‘S WHEELS TURNING.  “To me, the cover says so much,” the Nanaimo, BC artist and designer notes. “Beauty. History. Struggle. Color. Culture. Inspiration.” After reading the issue, Capewell tore off the cover and used it as her inspiration to create a series of paintings, 13 of which she’ll feature at next month’s IDS Vancouver.

My design process, which includes problem-solving, illustration, and color schemes all to communicate an idea, has taught me a lot. They have all added to the fabric of my story and my artwork.” -Valerie Capewell

Why choose a career as an artist?

It chose me; it is just who I am. I spent countless hours in the art room in school and was fortunate to have had passionate teachers. I have always needed to create. For years I have divided my time between my art and design studios. The two complement each other. With design, I work within a box, and with art—outside that box. For both, I always push for breakthroughs and am uncomfortable being static. Art matters. It enriches lives. It communicates. It brings people together. It moves. Art transcends language and culture.  

What was it about GRAY’S June/July cover that spurred you to create something?

I began this project with a muse. When that issue of GRAY arrived, I was completely inspired by the cover photo and story. It’s Frida Kahlo-esque, and the fashion designer Paloma Hurtado has a great story. The coverline read, “When you come as an immigrant to the U.S., you develop a thick skin. It drives you to be successful. To do things… even if you don’t feel prepared.” And I can relate to this. I think we all can in some way.

So I tore off the cover, hung it in my little studio and began. Each painting in the series was painted independently to build its own story, but they were all influenced by this one muse. To me, the cover says so much: Beauty. History. Struggle. Color. Culture. Inspiration.

In this process, I reached out to Paloma and we have since made a connection. Thirteen of this series’ works inspired by this connection will be featured in my space at IDS Vancouver in September.

How do you overcome a creative block?

Just start. I have learned that these blocks are necessary to push through to arrive at the end product. Perfection kills creativity.

What can you not live without?

Apart from my caffeine addiction (it’s all about a good medium roast), my children trump all. They love, inspire, teach, and are my harshest critics.

If there was a movie about your life, who would play you and why?

Jodie Foster. I think she is tough, sensitive and real. She doesn’t seek publicity, she just works at her craft. She seems very authentic. She also worked hard for a long time at her craft and valued the journey.


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