If there’s anyone we’d trade lives, there’s a good chance we’d choose Dutch artist and designer Caroline DeChamby. A former fashion model, she now lives and works in Crans-Montana, a gorgeous ski resort town nestled in the Swiss Alps—need we say more? We recently had the pleasure of chatting with Caroline about growing up in the Netherlands, her time in Paris, and what made her decide to put her colorful, hyper-realistic paintings on purses and watches.
AZ: Zodiac sign?
AZ: Coffee or tea?
AZ: Tell us about growing up in Utrecht. Were you exposed to a lot of art during your childhood?
Caroline: I was born in Utrecht but grew up in Bilthoven, a protected village in the woods. My mother was a famous Dutch painter and my father an architect who had their ateliers at home. I grew up in a very artistic spirit.
AZ: Spirit animal?
Caroline: A wire-haired dachshund with its ears turned and its teeth showing when furious.
AZ: What compelled you to start painting?
Caroline: I never thought I wanted to be a painter, it’s just that I feel good when I paint. It pushes me into another world and makes me dream.
AZ: Would you say that working as a model has had an effect on the art you make today?
Caroline: Definitely. I appreciate any type of beauty, whether it’s a car, a well-dressed person, an extraordinary haircut, a beautiful sunrise, or even a phallic symbol. There is beauty in everything.
AZ: When you include yourself in a painting, why do you choose not to show your face?
Caroline: Because I look at the painters’ work that I appropriate and also I can paint myself till I’m 100 years old. . .
AZ: Your art clearly references some of the biggest names in the history of art. Out of all of them, is there any one artist who has influenced your work the most?
Caroline: I was always fascinated by and felt close to the Belgian painter René Magritte. He was a good painter and had an incredible sense of humor.
AZ: How did you come up with the idea to put your paintings on leather goods and timepieces?
Caroline: I wanted the paintings to go from the canvas to the arms of beautiful ladies, so I made handbags and watches. The arms of the ladies become the walls exposing my art to the world instead of all the similar-looking big brands.
AZ: Talk to us about the relationship between fine art and fashion. What are some of the challenges you face when designing a handbag or a watch?
Caroline: The available space, which forces me to paint the dials of my watches through a microscope.
AZ: What’s your favorite part of living in Crans-Montana? Has being in the heart of the Swiss Alps impacted your artwork at all?
Caroline: The nature—it keeps my mind clear and away from all the bullshit. I create beautiful things in a beautiful environment with extraordinary light!
AZ: You’ve also lived in Paris—what advice would you give to someone visiting the City of Light for the first time?
Caroline: Go to a typical French bistro and see unconventional exhibition— avoid museums like the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay, since they’re boring and dead.
AZ: What’s next for you as far as painting and designing?
Caroline: Continuing my appropriating style with new, exciting painters and sculptors and exploring other ways to involve exceptional people in my vision of art.
all photos courtesy of the artist