Artist Paulina Reyes’ vibrant watercolors and fluid drawing style led us to collaborate on a summer collection of pillows that celebrate the colors of her native Mexico City! We talked with Paulina at her NYC studio to get a peek at her process, and to learn the story behind her designs.
What inspires you?
Feeling good! Spending time with lovely people, playing capoeira, sunshine, swimming in lakes, Oaxaca, visiting new places, flea markets, food markets, Mexican candy, childhood memories, and my mom.
Tell us a little bit about your process. How do you come up with designs? Where do you do most of your work?
I’ll have an idea floating in my head for a while and one day I’ll just sit down and start painting, drawing or collaging. The ideas for my personal projects can be about storytelling – like a small book filled with airport sketches – or more abstract like graphic experiments with color.
I’ll set-up my home studio to work for hours in the company of good music, all my utensils, and multiple pads of watercolor paper. I tend to work pretty fast, as I like spontaneous gestures. It’s a bit like a painting marathon, having a dialogue with the blank paper. Whatever I start liking, I do more of. If I mess up, I start over.
What’s your approach to decorating at home?
I like to live in homes that are constantly being transformed as my life changes. I am a big fan of natural light and open spaces. None of the furniture in my apartment matches, but somehow it all works together. For me it is also very important that my living room can function as an art studio with easy access to all my utensils and artwork. I have great industrial bookshelves and my flat files have casters to double as a coffee table that can be moved around easily.
As far as color at home, I like to keep it bold and simple. On the walls I have prints from artists I admire as well as some of my own. On my fireplace mantle are treasured personal objects – some of which were stolen from my mom’s house.
What inspired your collection for west elm?
The collection was inspired by the Mexican talavera pots that my mom always had in our house when we were growing up. I always loved the watery hand-painted motifs and the overall single-color projection. (Traditional talavera from Puebla is rich blue on white.) The bright palette just seemed right for these pillows. It is bold and fresh, and also reminiscent of the colors of Mexican candy, papel picado, and Luis Barragán’s architecture. We played with different flowers and even cacti, but in the end we all loved the birds the most.
You can see more of Paulina Reyes’ work on her website.
Images: west elm