We recently fell crazy-in-love with Camille Bachand, an L.A.-based visual artist whose handmade “dolls” are both repulsive and ridiculously wonderful. We decided we wanted to be best friends with her, so we asked her a bunch of nosy-ass questions and demanded answers. Thanks for letting us get all up in your business, Camille!
I’m 30 and I was born and raised in Kansas. As a kid, I always aspired to be a hobo or a hippie. I thought as a hobo, I’d get to travel and camp out a lot. And hippies seemed to have more time to relax than other people, plus I liked their clothes. I think I’ve managed to land somewhere in between the two.
Throughout college, Juxtapoz, High Fructose, and Vice magazine were a huge relief and inspiration to me, since the only artists around me that seemed to have any remote success were painting super-boring landscapes, or welding giant windmill-shaped metal pieces together. After graduating from an in-state art school, I married the love of my life and we immediately moved to Los Angeles.
We decided to move because, after internet stalking all the artists I was inspired by at the time, I realized most of them lived in Los Angeles. Knowing I didn’t fit into the Kansas art scene, I thought I should get to a city where I might have a chance. So my husband and I packed up the Ford Focus with mostly art supplies, records, and instruments, and headed west.
How did you get into making art?
I’ve always been very creative, and had a huge imagination. I remember always wanting to be able to draw and I was super jealous of the girl in my grade school who was a better artist than me. I guess in high school I realized I had no other option than to make it as an artist. There just wasn’t another path that I could see that would allow me to be funny, dirty, expressive, and make up my own rules.
How do you make your characters?
I make them all from a dream product called Magic Sculpt. It’s a two-part clay resin that cures at room temperature fairly quickly. I do the characters in a number of layers to build up details in their faces. Because of the fast curing time, the end product will never be seamless, so I don’t recommend it to artists who work super-realistically. But since I have a loose, more expressive style, the nature of the Magic Sculpt works in my favor.
What’s the scale of them? It’s hard to tell from your Instagram.
The scale I use in nerd terms is “1/6 scale.” Cool people call it “Barbie scale.” But it all falls under the craft of miniature- or model-making. Traditionally, miniature artists seem to take a ton of pride in proportion and scale, but to be honest, that’s a very gray area to me. I remember being criticized in a life-drawing class because my figure was out of proportion and I literally had no idea what they were talking about—couldn’t see it at all. Being a young person, I was instantly self-conscious, thinking, “What am I fucking proportion-blind or something?” But I realized my proportions are based off of emotions, rather than reality. Now I feel super lucky that I’m not stuck in reality with the people that enjoy life-drawing.
Your figures are so awesomely creepy—what inspires you?
I’ve always been charmed and intrigued by the seedy underbelly of society, so naturally I don’t have to look far for my inspiration. Some of my characters are based solely on one person, but a lot of them are a mixture of characters I see on the streets, or personalities I meet at work. Then I sprinkle some of my white-trash folk-art roots on top, and wha la! A baby is born.
What’s your main gig?
I have a job making and dressing miniature sets for the stop-motion animated series Robot Chicken. But since the show is seasonal, I work a season for about 11 months and then I get 5 months off. I love my job and the fact that it gives me the opportunity to refine my craft and learn tricks from the masters. But I cherish my time off, when I get to work full-time in my studio.
Who are your favorite grown-ass ladies?
I really admire the work of Francess Glessner Lee—she made miniature models of crime scenes with such precision and detail that they actually helped detectives solve cases. The best part is that she wasn’t hired to make these—it was all for her own enjoyment.
I also recently ran across a Los Angeles-based performance artist named Kate Durbin. She’s been touring with a piece she calls “Hello Selfie.” Not only is her commentary on narcissism and pop culture a complete success, her costumes and fashion sense are dope as hell.
Another female badass I admire is writer and artist Chelsea Bayouth. She’s insanely talented at pointing out all the gritty, hilarious, contextual details of a situation. She also makes amazingly haunted characters and masks out of paper mache.
What are you obsessed with right now?
Right now, I’m obsessed with the Source Family documentary and music. If you haven’t seen it just watch it, and you’ll see what I mean. I’ve also recently been learning how to hunt, skin, and eat rattlesnake. I just ordered what the internet calls a “snake grabber” and a sweet-ass knife. I’ll let you know how it goes.
If you could invent/steal a time machine, where would you go?
I’d go back in time to San Francisco to the Gold Rush, and open up a barbershop. I’d get super rich and get to hang out with sexy miners all the time.