{the interview series} Cara Carmina + giveaway!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Hoje trago-vos uma convidada muito especial... é uma doce e cativante rapariga mexicana que espalha cor e sorrisos por onde passa! Norma Andreu é a criadora responsável por Cara Carmina e a sua mente criativa não pára: entre a ilustração e os tecidos, a sua arte é expressiva e apaixonada - reflexo da sua generosa personalidade e da forte influência da cultura que a viu nascer. Apresento-vos o encantador trabalho e a alegria contagiante de Norma.

E mais: leiam até ao fim para saber como podem ganhar uma criação Cara Carmina personalizada em mais um imperdível giveaway!

(Por motivos óbvios de extensão e compreensão do texto, tanto pelos entrevistados como pelos potenciais leitores do resto do mundo, a entrevista segue em inglês.)

Today I bring you a very special guest... she's a sweet and dear Mexican girl who spreads color and smiles wherever she goes! Norma Andreu is the one behind Cara Carmina and her creative mind doesn't stop: between illustration and fabrics, her art is expressive and passionate - a reflection of her generous personality and the strong influence of the culture that saw her born. I present to you the lovely work and contagious joy of Norma.

Plus, read to the end to know how you can win a Cara Carmina personalized piece of art in one more great giveaway!

Norma Andreu | Cara Carmina
Montreal, Canada
site | blog | shop | flickr | facebook | twitter

1. Let’s pretend we don’t know each other and I’ve never heard about Norma Andreu. Tell us a bit about yourself.
Ok, so… I'm Norma and I'm from Mexico City and I'm a taurus. I like to say I'm an artist of all kinds because I do many different things… I'm a children illustrator, I'm a textile designer and I make dolls and other cute things with fabrics and papers. I paint, I take photos, I like crafts, art, fashion, museums, technology, music and cats… did I tell you I have 4 cats? (one, Lola is a very fat one) I like simple things in life and enjoy taking naps during the day and hate to wake up early, I like silence and hate noise. I'm married with the love of my life and speak Spanish, English, Italian and now I'm learning French. uf! Nice to meet you!

2. You’re the artist behind the plural brand Cara Carmina. When was this brand born and why is it called like that?
Cara Carmina was first born as a blog, a children illustration blog, it still exists, but it is paused for the moment, I do want to work on it again and hope I can do that soon. Anyways, Cara Carmina (the name) was born as a combination of my favorite things, my favorite language is Italian and Cara is an Italian word that means "dear", is a loving word; Carmina comes from the color red which in Spanish is also called "carmín" and so I thought it would be a good reference for one of my favorite animals, the lady bug, which is my logo since then too. So it's kind of a words game because the lady bugs are red, they are very dear to me and I think they are lucky so Cara Carmina is like saying in English "Dear red little thing" or something like that, it sounds so cool, I like it a lot! Both words sound good together. And so the name was born like that in 2005 and the design brand itself was more or less created at the beginning of 2008, when I opened my etsy store, so it's been 3 plus years now.

3. You’re a painter, an illustrator and recently a textile artist. How was this creative passion born and what was the journey that brought you here?
Well, it was born with me I think… since I was very little I liked to paint and to do crafts, anything that's artsy I liked! I used to copy the drawings of my favorite comics like Archie (loved to copy the girls dresses). I'm also passionate about fashion, I wanted to study fashion design but it was too expensive in those days so I ended up studying Graphic Design. I also have taken some drawing courses in Florence (my grandmother won an Italian course subscription on the radio and gave it to me… then I won a scholarship to go to Florence to study art for some months, how cool is that?)… I took some fashion and children illustration courses in New York where I lived for some years too and after that I just started to be very self-taught, for example: I began to experiment with paper collage and that's how my paper dolls were born and from there I wondered what if I made them with fabrics and so I bought my sewing machine, read the instructions (never touch one before) and just started making experiments with it and now I have a whole line of dolls and cute little things made with fabric and thread… my journey into the arts and crafts has been one of constant discovery and I must say has been a very happy one!

4. How did you go from illustration to textiles and how do you manage to coordinate these two creative works? Which one gives you more pleasure?
It's just that I get inspired or have an idea and want to do that, you know? One day I just wanted to give life to my illustrations, had a friend that used to work with fabrics and had a sewing machine and I just gave it a try. I'm not afraid of trying! So now I can proudly say I love my textile work. About coordinating them I'm not sure, the textile creations have been my main focus for the last 2 years, still I like to draw and paint but haven't done it for a while now… sometimes before making a doll I draw it. I've been drawing some ideas but nothing much, I must say both give me pleasure, the results of both make me happy! The dolls are kind of special because they are a thing, an object you can touch and manipulate, the images give me like a dreamy kind of satisfaction, I see a drawing and my imagination flies away, I think both make me happy in a different way.

5. Either in textiles or in paper, your dolls are beautiful and cute characters! They’re filled with delicious details and reflect your own cheerful and passionate personality. How are these characters born and what inspires you to give them life? Share your creative process with us.
I know this sounds so weird but I don't know… maybe some other artists or illustrators would understand me better when I say this. The characters I draw, make with paper collage or make with fabrics just come to life through me. I've always thought they already exist somewhere, in another kind of world and they are waiting patiently that someone draws them. I get inspiration from many things, from art, from books, from people, and I just let it flow… one idea leads to another one. My paper dolls were very basic at the beginning, I know I wanted to make a paper collage image with different elements so I started experimenting and the first one maybe wasn't as cute or pretty as I wanted but gave me an idea and so I kept trying until somehow I made one that was so cute that I just couldn't stop making more and each one was even cuter! Same with the dolls, the first one was cute, I liked it, but not quite sure that's what I wanted, so over that first doll I began to make more experiments and that's how I arrived to the point where I love the dolls I make and still today I keep having new ideas!

6. As you know, I’m also a big passionate by Frida Kahlo… not only by her work, but her life story and personality. So I believe you won’t be surprised if I say that your Fridas are the characters you create that I love most! Can I ask you what’s your favorite and what’s been your best seller until now?
Oh I love Frida as a painter and as a woman too! Such a passionate person and a colorful one too! (literally) Well, my favorite ones are the big Fridas, they are just soooo beautiful, each part of the doll is so full of pretty details!!! My best sellers from the Frida collection are those and then the Frida key chains and brooches. A lot of people (men and women) love Frida Kahlo, she is iconic, and my Fridas have a very original style that makes them unique, (a Cara Carmina je ne sais quoi!) I believe the big ones are a piece of art and people who buy one really appreciate my work.

7. You’ve been featured in some blogs and magazines and your creations travel all around the world. What means do you use to promote your work?
I use the internet mainly and for the last year I've been doing a few craft shows in Montreal that have allowed me to show my work in a more personal way. But certainly the internet is my best friend, my blog, my store, my flickr, my facebook and twitter (you name it!), all of these are wonderful ways to connect with people otherwise you would never know! As an artist I really think the internet is a great way to promote your work. Also word-of-mouth, people who like my work let others know about it and it just becomes a huge snow ball that keeps growing and growing! As you mentioned I've been very fortunate to be featured in many blogs and some magazines that liked my work so that also helped to give me some extra exposure! In general I still smile everytime someone tells me they like my work, is very nice to hear that and to know people like what I do is quite incredible!

8. What is creating for you: a profession, a passion, a necessity, a life style or a hobby?
It's my life! It's my dream!

9. What else are you passionate about doing?
I'm passionate about Children books, I have a collection and if you would give me money I would spend it all in the children section of a book store! I'm also passionate about art, design, and fashion! And I love art and crafts supplies! If you give me more money I would spend half of it in the book store I told you before and the other half in the art materials store! :D I also love reading fiction! I think those are my passions… Oh oh oh and travelling! How about travel somewhere with the money you would be supposed to give me and then I would go to a museum or two or three there, then go to the book store and buy some children books and then…. I would go to the art supplies store and buy some nice things and then I would say Thank you very much and read a book!

10. Would you give us a glimpse of your working space? Describe it and tell us what you love most about it.
My atelier (I call it that) or my studio is in my house and is a small square room with a desk in the middle which is connected to the right to a set cubes that works as shelves where I put my fabrics, and glues, and pens, and colors, and threads, everything is there! I have a futon to my left and a big lamp. I have many of my favorite things on the walls like a Mexican tapestry with many colors, my favorite images of my work, photos, a painting of one of my cats, some of my paper dolls in old frames and my recent creation: a huge painting of Frida I made for a special day here in Montreal where I was invited to paint live to celebrate the Mexico day in a festival of the world! I have a huge window in front of me where I can see the moon, see the rain fall and right outside there is a maple tree that likes to look at me when I'm working and makes me happy to see its leaves change color every season! On my desk you can see my sewing machine, my printer and sometimes a whole mess of papers and colorful things that I need to work! I love my desk! It was a gift my husband gave to me when I moved from Mexico to live with him! I just loooove it!

11. You were born in Mexico City, but you now live in Montreal… well, I know that you moved for love! What do you think about this new city? Would you like to live anywhere else one day?
Yes! I came here for love and that's why Montreal has become a very special place to me… I love it! I must say I'm very happy here, it's a nice city to be an artist and people are friendly, nice and kind. I'm surrounded by love… so there's nothing else I could ask for! And yes, I would like to go live back in Mexico one day, I miss it so much! and probably in Italy one day! (I love Italy), who knows… maybe one day!

12. Your roots are clear in your work, especially in your Fridas, but also in its colorful and strong personality. Is this conscious? In which way your roots and the place where you live influence you?
I don't think is conscious, I love my roots though, in fact, I have a nice collection of Mexican crafts and they are all very colorful. I do love bright colors and Mexico is full of them but I do not think about this when I work. You just cannot avoid being influenced by all the esthetics that surrounds you when you grow up. The most simple thing can do that, like going to the market for example; if you go to a Mexican market you´ll see all the bright colors everywhere! In the fruits, veggies, flowers, the different smells, oh, oh, oh everything is so… in your face! So shinny! So alive!!!

13. If you could live in any other historical era of your choice, what would it be? Why?
This one is difficult to answer because I like many different periods of time… I would love to live in Versailles in the time of Marie-Antoinette!!! Or in the 20's and be the best friend of Coco Chanel or maybe in the time of the Mughal Empire in India and be Nur-Jahan!!! (love her story) oh oh oh, or be a friend of Frida! And be a surrealistic painter in Mexico and drink tequila after painting all day long with her and Tina and Leonora? (sigh)

14. What advices would you give to someone who would also like to become an artist?
Ok, here are some things I think are important to be an artist: first of all to love what you do and enjoy it! To not be too hard on yourself (we do that...), to work every day very hard and try to have some discipline (it helps!). Get inspired, look for inspiration, go out to a museum, get into design stores and look around, look in the web the work of other artists and get surrounded by persons and things that make you happy!!! And the last thing which I believe is very important keep being humble about your work, which would make you always want to learn more and improve yourself.

15. What are your plans for the future? And your most unrealistic dreams?
I recently started experimenting with some stop motion so I'm planning to keep that going and making some awesome videos Cara Carmina style of course! Also I want to start making more characters, different ones. Also would love to start drawing again since I haven't done it for a while now and create a small line of clothing and accesories, maybe some t-shirts, some skirts and tote bags. As for my most unrealistic dreams I want to put a Cara Carmina production in every home!!! And maybe open my own store?... Take over the world… Cara Carmina style?... maybe let's make a Cara Carmina planet? How cool would that be!!!

Now some quick question and answer game so we can find a bit more about you and your tastes! Tell us one:

book: All the names (José Saramago)
music: Manu Chau
movie: Lovers of the Artic Circle
personality/artist: Chavela Vargas
color: yellow (and blue sometimes)
object: sun glasses
animal: cat
drink: chai tea latte (cold)
food: Mexican (sigh… I miss it!)
season of the year: Fall and Spring
travel destination: Amsterdam (I want to go to the Van Gogh museum) and Mexico City!
piece of clothing: boots
secret: I`m a very anxious and obsessive person

Thank you so much for sharing all your colorful thoughts and characters with us, Norma!

And now... the giveaway you're all waiting for: Norma is offering to my luckiest reader a lovely personalized textile card... try your luck!

giveaway time!

You have the chance to win a Cara Carmina textille collage art card, measuring 5x7 in (about 12x18 cm), evaluated in $22.50!

This is an absolutely unique handmade piece of art that you can personalize as you wish: you can have a girl and a boy, 2 boys or 2 girls... you can choose to write the phrase I love you in any language or even their names and a cute heart - the choice is yours! The photo above is an example of the composition you can choose - you can have a look at some more inspiring images here and here.
This is a lovely way to say I love you to that special one in your life... and you can even frame it and place it upon your wall, so you can celebrate your love everyday!

Norma shares her process with us:
On a piece of felt I will create this lovely picture using my sewing machine as my brush and the black thread as my ink. I'm drawing with the thread! I will use a mixture of decorative papers, old french book pages and different elements as buttons and decorative touches. At the end the image will been stitched on a watercolor, 100 lbs. paper to give it a firm base and so it can be framed.

So... what do you have to do?
+ just leave a comment bellow!
+ you can have an extra chance to win by becoming a facebook fan of {the interview series}...
+ ... and you can have a second extra chance to win by becoming a follower of this blog, so you won't ever miss a bit! (just look for the followers widget on the left column).

Please, don't forget to leave a separate comment bellow for each entry, letting me know about it, so it can count for the giveaway, even if you're already a fan or follower.
The winner will be announced on wednesday next week (October 12th) and contacted by email, so don't forget to leave your name and contact. Good luck!

UPDATE: We had 36 entries in this giveaway! yay! The winner was picked using random.org.
And the lucky winner is the number 7... congratulations Mad About Pink!!! I'll be contacting you soon... I'm sure you'll enjoy your prize!
Thank you so much to all participants! Not only for participating, but also for your kind words about my blog and Cara Carmina's beautiful work!


  1. não acredito que ainda ninguém tenha participado! gostei muito da entrevista e do trabalho da Norma... espero ter sorte! :)

    sílvia dias :: silvia(at)mortigi-tempo.com

    e já sou fã da página da {the interview series} no facebook há algum tempo, vou passar agora a seguir via google, também.

  2. OBRIGADA!!!!! GRACIAS!!!!! for the lovely interview about my work! by far this is one of the best interviews I`ve ever had! :D (keep up the great work!) big yellow hug for you and your Frida (cat) :D <3<3<3 Norma

  3. Dear Cara ...
    I just read in the interview that you did to Ana Pinatelier ... q and the truth is I dreamed ... every little detail you said, of why you are now in Montreal .. ja! As I am now in another city, for the love! as you ..... of how important this and everything that moves inside ... your desktop incredible gift of your husband, your shelf for boxes of cubes that will surely be full of material, which is equal to one I asked last week to accommodate the q I have at home, and your machine! is exactly like mine!, thanks for sharing and making me daydream with much color, for your incredible costuritas that give life to such a beautiful thing, and speak from the heart full of love .. I did the morning !!... A big kiss .. Ixchel Estrada. *-*

  4. Bravo! I fell in love with Cara Carmina when we started carrying her beautiful art at General 54 in Montreal. I am also obsessed with Frida and saving up so I can add a big Cara Carmina doll to my Frida shrine! It was inspiring to read this post - I have been feeling quite cynical about surviving as an artist in these tough economic times but I found Norma's words uplifting, motivating and hopeful!

    I would LOVE to have a felt postcard to give to my better half for our 10th anniversary. My email is info [at] brazen [-] design [dot] com.

    Thanks for this fantastic interview and giveaway!


  5. A beautiful artist. I love Norma's work! and her story is so sweet. I have one of her Frida dolls (pictured with my Frida shrine above!) and she is gorgeous! Would love to win anything made by Cara Carmina! x

  6. Hi, such a nice artist. I love the colours and the uniqueness. I'm definitely in for the giveaway.

  7. ...well, I'm a Norma's fan from a long time (her shop is in my favourites almost from the beginning...) and it should be simply great to win a little piece of art made by her...so thanks a bunch for this generous chance, I'll keep my fingers crossed for it!;o)

    A big hug from Italy,

  8. ...and now I'm a new follower too! ;o)

  9. What a wonderful interview with a lovely artist! Would love a personalized bit of art. :)

  10. So beautiful!!!
    I hope I win! Wish me luck, please ;)

    Carla Cruz

  11. Extra entry

    I'm follower of this blog - Carlita

    Carla Cruz

  12. As tuas entrevistas são como sempre deliciosas.
    Gostei imenso. Não conhecia o trabalho da Cara Carmina mas fiquei fã, é fantástico.


  13. é fantástico o trabalho dela.
    será que se pode ter sorte duas vezes?

  14. Lindas fotos, entretenida entrevista, muy bello trabajo. Felicitaciones a ambas ( creadora y entrevistadora).

  15. What a beautiful interview, I was very lucky to meet Norma and she's a wonderful person and a fantastic artist. I'm from Mexico living in Montreal too and I just loooove her art and her vision. Congrats!!! - BTW, I'd love to be in the giveaway as well. Thanks!!

  16. I knew already and love Cara Carmina's doll!
    And I'm also a big admirer of Frida Kahlo and Chavela Vargas!
    Thanks to Ana for this beautiful interview and giveaway and, because I'm italian, to Norma for her kind words about our country and our language :)

  17. already follower on FB :)

  18. and this time I got it with the feed!
    (it's the third time I try...;P)
    you can check it at www.satyrikonlab.com


  19. Extra entry

    I'm a facebook fan of {the interview series}...

    Carla Cruz

  20. soooo many thanks to all the nice comments and big yellow hugs to all of you!!!!!!!! <3<3<3 (good luck to all!) :D

  21. Amazing, lovely, I enjoyed this very much :)

    Comment one -done :)

    Kisses from Buenos Aires,


  22. I am a Facebook fan of The Interview Series, as well. Of course!



  23. And a follower of this amazing blog >D



  24. so sweet :)
    love it and will love to have that beautiful card ;)
    i wish myself luck!

  25. What an amazing interview! Norma's work is gorgeous and her words are inspiring.

    urchiken at gmail dot com

  26. What beautiful handmade items!

  27. I liked the Facebook page!

  28. Hey fantastic Norma! I'm already fan of your fb page and now of your cute blog. I'm from Italy and I love a lot of things you love ^_^
    Hope to be the lucky winner ;DDD
    hugs Paola

  29. arg I thought I arleady commented on this but I guess it didn't show up!
    So I followed the blog and the fb page and I aboslutely love your work!!!!!
    my email is marienoelle.wurm@gmail.com
    I can't wait until Wednesday!! :)

  30. Adorei! Super criativa e original! Muitos parabéns! =)

  31. Lovely work Norma. can´t stop "staring" at your Frida´s, they really transmit her spirit. i loved the sentences written on the dolls body
    I miss one with an huipil ;)

    Ana, parabéns pelas entrevistas bem concebidas

  32. wooooow so many comments!!!! THANK YOU ALL FOR THE NICE WORDS AND WISH YOU LUCK!!!! :D

  33. Norma i know a little bit more about you now!
    nice interview ....keep in touch.

  34. love carmina's art! great interview :)

  35. i forgot my mail :S


  36. thanks a lot! I'm sooooo happy! This card is going to be in the spotlight in my studio! thanks Norma and Ana

  37. beautiful person who creates beautiful dolls! nice interview :)


  38. These are just gorgeous, I really want one of each!


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