Interview With An Artist: Lorena Garoiu About Art On T-shirts, Fashion & Inspiration

I LOVE the human face, those incredibly interesting features that tell me stories, that have a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’. I adore those. I get inspired by that type of beauty. There’s nothing more magnetic than a face that tells a story. And I cherish it, and the connection that’s born between me as an artist and my model is the most powerful and humbling thing in the world. I give in to that.  – Lorena Garoiu

It was probably the warmest and sunniest winter day that Saturday, when my photographer and I pulled up to Lorena’s house a month ago, on a street that looks exactly like those you read about in a book. There she was, smiling her big warm smile, a little bit nervous, greeting us as beautiful as ever, looking very sexy-powerful in her racy new latex pants from Atsuko Kudo and one of her T-shirts from her collection Art On T-shirts – depicting whores and sex, and that intriguing different kind of beauty. She has a knock out body I’ll give you that. She had her bold red lips on, new hair-do that she was still growing into, and you could tell she was as nervous as she was excited about having her photos taken in her house atelier.

Her home is exactly as I’d expected it, packed with bits and pieces of art and inspiration from all walks of life, excerpts of beauty and racy innuendos, and graffiti on her kitchen wall, and used dry paint brushes sitting next to expensive perfumes – it really translated to the most beautiful bohemian vibe. You can tell a lot about a person though details, and Lorena has no intention of hiding anything that makes up her world. I thought it took great strength to allow such exposure.

We had fun that day, and wrapped it all up in the yard by a wall she painted with her daughter. She’s a beautiful soul Lorena, and she did give us a very interesting visual tour of her art world that afternoon.

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We decided then that I’d sent her some questions over email and we’d make it a great fun interview so you guys, my readers, would get to know her a little bit and she’d explain more to us about her Art On T-shirts Project. SEX on t-shirts? Who’d wear that, I thought? How did it all come together? Where can I get one? You know… that sort of stuff.

She called me last week to tell me she’s off to Milan to some art exhibition, right after she stayed in Bruxelles for a few weeks, and she was planning to answer my questions in handwriting over coffee at her fave cafe in Milan.

‘I got into art cause of my family, who have a tradition in arts for over 4 generations. I studied art from 10 years old, when I chose art classes over piano. I went to Art Highschool in Resita, Romania, and then to Art University In Timisoara, Romania. I’ve had my first exhibition at 16 when I sold my first work. Then at 17 I received the Excellence Award in Drawing in the national art olympics. Throughout my life I’ve had exhibitions in Berlin, Amsterdam, London Budapest, Munchen.’

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That is Lorena the artist, what about Lorena the person behind it all, how would you like my readers to meet and know you? What would you say about yourself?

I love everything that’s beautiful. I adore beauty, refinement, and elegance.

What inspires you the most?

Very expressive features, a certain way a person has, a special character. I find beauty in ugly you know. I get inspired by perfumes, by buildings, by travelling, flowers, the different faces I see on the streets. It’s also those busy places or my favourite cafes in Europe that inspire me so so very much. Paris Bar in Berlin, La Coupole in Paris, you know those retro tiny hideouts very famous in the art world.

And life experiences, certain things and chapters that happen in life, make me wanna capture it all in my paintings. Sort of like a scene in a film that remains there forever to tell my side of story.

Where does fashion come in all this? Does it come up at all in your art, do the two of them intertwine? 

Oh my God of course! Fashion has a massive place in my art and in my heart. It fascinated me ever since I was a kid and wanted to be a fashion designer. It’s also strong rooted in my family cause my great-grandparents had a military clothes atelier shop – ‘a wire and silk broidery atelier shop’ it was called.

You know, fashion is art. Period. And it’s part of my art, they go together.

We see their marriage throughout art history, the outfits that are present in the works of Van Dyck, Velasques or Tizian, they’re more than fashion, they’re a true reflection of the times, and of certain personal styles, precise outfits worn by certain people. Of course fashion is art.

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Speaking of style, you have a great style, it’s very bohemian and somewhat extravagant but quite relatable at the same time. Tell me a bit about your personal style: do you seek it intentionally, or does it just come up naturally from the way you are? Do you give great importance to your outfits? 

Well thank you, I try you know. No, I’m just kidding. Actually I don’t try at all. It just happens, it comes from my background, my family, my education. I never seek style. You either have it or you don’t.

(well Amen! to that I thought).

However, I do like to grow it, and educate my style if you will, but even that comes effortless as I flick through fashion magazines, or just give in to my spur of the moment sartorial impulse. I guess I have a sort of a bohemian style, simple but modern. Or perhaps the way I approach it is modern and fresh and cool. Much like the portraits I draw and paint.

I must confess I do give outfits some degree of importance, not to sound snobbish or anything, but you know the way you dress is a form of respect if you will towards you in the first place, and how you present yourself to the world, and to the world and the people you meet inevitably, secondly. I do keep this in mind by default, but I also dress to the occasion, and situation.

That’s so well put, I agree. But does that mean you have a favourite outfit? Do you go about your fashion like that? Your go-to-look – is that something that strikes close to home for you? 

Well, I don’t have a go to look. That’s nonsense you know, or at least that’s what I feel right now, today. I’m quite spontaneous when it comes to actual dressing and clothes. BUT, I do have a favourite outfit: a dress, a leather jacket, and classic shoes.

Okay, but do you think any woman must have certain staples in her closet? 

Well yeah, I think a retro dress is a major must-have, a silk button-down shirt, a pair of leather pants, and of course a T-shirt by moi.

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Yes, we got to the T-shirts and I seriously couldn’t wait. I know your latest project is Art On T-shirts. Tell me a little bit about what inspired you, what does it mean exactly? Where can we buy your t-shirts from, how do we wear them, where, who is more likely to fall for them? 

Art of T-shirts, yes. I always thought of bringing art into a more affordable sector if you will. By printing a painting that’s normally around €2,000, you make it more affordable at say €100, and wearable. Besides, you have something original, and you get to wear art. That’s something isn’t it?

It’s funny but it all started with a painting of a rhododendron, which I thought I’d print on a fabric and make a dress out of it. But this was way before Balanciaga and Dolce & Gabanna had their printed collections you know. So anyway, that’s how it started, and the T-shirt project was born.

Yes, the T-shirts are racy to some – like they depict sex workers, sex scenes, and prostitutes – but to me they have the most powerful message and beauty. True beauty for me is something that moves me. It doesn’t have to be pretty at all. Or fit the idea of mainstream pretty if you will.

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So the T-shirts are statement pieces through what they stand for. Anyone with an outspoken mind and heart can wear them. Style wise they’re incredibly versatile so you can wear them with anything from jeans to skirts to leather jackets and blazers, whatever floats your boat really. And they can also go anywhere from parties to laid back brunches and God knows where the day and night take you.

I do see my T-shirts proudly worn by  confident women and men with a penchant for cool style, effortless, very relaxed and laid back, but not lazy, actually with a touch of racy and loudness to it and why not a penchant for strong statements and messages and of course a taste for the arts, in whatever shape and form they come in.

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Ok, I must say I love them, and would wear them proudly as you put it. And now the easy-fast Q. that I just have to ask. What do you listen to? 

Suede, Kate Bush, Nick Cave, David Bowie, and classical music I love.

People who inspire you?

Winston Churchill, Vivienne Westwood, David Bowie, Klimt, Jan Six, Marlene Dumas, Yves Saint Laurent, Lucian Freud, Rubens, Oscar Wilde, Yehuda Berg, Marcel Proust. To name a few. 🙂

What would you never do for the sake of art or fashion?

Kitsch. I’d never do or wear kitsch.

And now let’s talk a bit about today’s times: do you think we can still give birth to new movements and ideas in 2016? Like revolutions in art and that sort of stuff?

Well I believe in change. Deeply. And I think it’s happening now as we speak, we’re witnessing massive changes we’re just too close to fully grasp it you know. But it’s happening. The New Age period shows us exactly this. And, I’m an optimist on the whole idea of new ideas and I love to think we’ve still got some aces up our sleeves.

I need to ask you this though, we live in the times of Facebook, and selfies, and Intragram and the online culture of everything really. Do you think it makes us grow too far apart from art in its classic sense? Do we turn into technological versions of ourselves? Or is this a new era that we should learn to accept, embrace and let it rub off on us inspiration wise. Can we do that? What do you think? 

Facebook and Instagram can send the information out there in seconds. It’s crazy you know. It’s out there for a whole world to see. We NEED to understand this and give in to this. We need to adapt to the times we live in.

And yes there are the selfies, but they’re a version of the self-portrait if you think of it. There can be an art to taking selfies, why not? Or perhaps certain selfies can be art, maybe that rings truer.

But in your paintings, do you let yourself be inspired by this world, by the online? Facebook, photos, films, videos, pop-culture do all these things transpire in what you create, and if so, how? 

Well it’s easy. I do. I let myself be inspired by everything I see and come across. Like if I see a great photo on FB or Instgram I save it you know. I’ve got tons of such pics that I later draw from, literally. And also, films and cinema I give in to that as well. ‘Only lovers left alive’ inspired me tremendously. Theatre inspires me, for example ‘Roosevlet Square’ by Radu Afrim,  or ‘The girl in the gold bowlfish’.

Can you tell me a bit about the process of creation for you. How does it all begin? 

It all starts with an idea, an image, an interesting face maybe, some lyrics that just stick with me, a scene in the streets I passed by. You know, THE idea behind something great can really lurk God knows where. The point is to just keep an open eye, mind, and soul to it all.

Ok, but is there such a thing as a good painting? Or there is no such thing as good and bad in art, it’s just creation? 

A good painting is the one that gives you an emotion. It sends chills down your spine you know. It’s well drawn. And it has sensibility and force at the same time.

Thank you so much for this Lorena. It was so much fun, and really an honour for me. And now let me wrap this up with the most cliche Q.: where do you see yourself in a few years? 

Oh, of course I’d love to have my work shown and exhibited all around the world, in the most notorious art galleries, and also travel as much as I can to wherever my spirit and art would take me. And of course I’d be living in my house and art atelier by the sea. That is my dream. Yeah, you asked, so there it is, my future. Hopefully.

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Fingers crossed for this beautiful artist. Hope you enjoyed this. I surely loved discovering a glimpse of her wonderful world. And I am dying really to wear one of her T-shirts.

Lorena Garoiu contact 

xoxo

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