We came across Bella Gomez’ work during our last trip to L.A. when we visited the newly updated Hotel Figueroa. The hotel has a very vibrant mural designed by Bella on the entire outside wall of the hotel (12 floors), distinguishing the hotel from all other buildings in DTLA. Bella is a surface pattern designer and illustrator living in Lewes, England. Her work embracing the love of colour, form and nature. Bella’s vibrant artworks and expressive repeat patterns incorporates florals, botanicals and abstract shapes. She is constantly drawn by the impact print and pattern can have, be it in a space or on a product: it can inspire, have a narrative or be somewhere to let your mind wander.
Can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself, where you’re from and where you’re at now?
B: I grew up on England’s Dorset coast with my mum and sister. I was always really creative and I really remember not wanting to follow the norm, I moved to London at 18 to train as a dancer, which was my first passion. Dancing brought me a lot of artistic freedom and the chance to travel. My family were and still are very supportive of my ventures. I had my own accessories range for a while producing in the Far East, and then I designed for the high street. Now I freelance as an illustrator and surface pattern designer working on murals, branding, fashion, packaging, books and interiors.
What’s the creative process when you work with large organisations?
B: It really does depend on the job. I’ve been really lucky with most of my commissions and told to embrace my style. Which is wonderful and how it really should be, in terms of engaging with an artist. When I worked with Facebook or corporate banks the direction was very defined and artwork needed to be signed off by many people, the process can take longer. It is about finding the balance of being mindful of the brief, bringing your own flair as well as leaving a little space for wonderful process of experimenting.
What are some of your favourite galleries or places to see art?
B: I was fortunate to be brought up on going to the V&A, the Tate, contemporary museums and shows in London which definitely fed my love of the arts and culture. I went to Paris a few time when I was younger I never forget the museums and wandering the back streets and café culture – so totally inspiring. Nowadays, I pop to London to exhibitions and shows but locally we have Ditchling Museum featuring local and international artists and Brighton has many events, artist shows and fairs. I find inspiration in many places. For me now, it’s about making the time to go out and enjoy what’s on offer and not get too caught up in life.
What do you miss about London?
B: I completely loved living in London and did so for 23 years. I enjoyed the galleries, markets, food, people, parties, and working there tremendously. But it was definitely time for a new chapter. I moved to Sussex about three years ago now. I want my kids to grow up near the coast and fields, with London and the big wide world as something to run off to and enjoy later down the line. Bringing kids up in London felt very fast paced.
Nomad Featured Trip: Art London (many have late night openings so check!)
Victoria & Albert Museum: The world’s largest museum of applied and decorative arts and design, as well as sculpture
Tate Modern: Houses a world renown international modern and contemporary art and has a fantastic terrace with a view of the City of London
Ditchling Museum: Specialises in showcasing the artists and craftspeople who made Ditchling a creative hub in the 20th century
Design Museum: Dedicated to product, industrial, graphic, fashion and architectural design, the museum is located in Holland Park
Leighton House Museum: A stone’s throw away from the Design Museum, this is the former home of the Victorian artist Frederic, Lord Leighton, contains a unique collection of paintings and sculpture
Serpentine Galleries: Comprises of 2 galleries a 5 minutes walk from each other, which exhibit emerging and established artists from around the world. Don’t miss its annual summer Pavilion: a site for innovative architectural experimentation
Don’t have Nomad yet, no worries download it now (it takes no time):
Recently, you were commissioned to create an amazing mural at Hotel Figueroa. How did that come about?
B: Whilst refurbishing the hotel, the designers really wanted to build on the hotel’s feminist history. It had been a hub for social progress, creativity and art since it first opened in 1926, embracing this, local and international artists were engaged to create artwork to adorn the hotel. I was totally flattered to be asked to pitch and even more excited when I won the gig! The mural wraps the 12-storey high facade, a backdrop to the lush garden and iconic coffin shaped pool. The design is inspired by the hotel’s Spanish heritage, tiling, and decorative arts but definitely has a modern, contemporary feel, something to juxtapose the downtown bustle.
How was the Mural painted?
B: I didn’t paint the actual wall! I was just commissioned to design the artwork. I hand painted the flowers and leaves on sheets of paper and scanned them. Designing the final placement on my computer. Wall Dogs are the incredible muralists who painted my artwork, by hand in about a week. I stood there, in the summer looking up at a building that literally looked like my A4 paintings. It was pretty impressive!
Have you spent much time in LA?
B: I went to Venice for a summer when I was about 19, and have these romantic memories and smells, of sun soaked days people watching, taking road trips and living on the beach. Returning last summer it felt very different, I guess my life is very different though. LA has its own inherent vibe, however like all towns, it is evolving with the impact of people, technology and design.
What impact do you think Social media has had on art?
B: It’s difficult, there’s no denying it’s a powerful platform that has had a huge effect on art and artists and all walks of life. On the plus side, it’s really accessible and a huge force of inspiration and information and great place for promoting your own brand. Your work is out there instantly, it’s quick, clients can reach you directly. You can create your own community and garner feedback. Which is insightful especially say when work on your own. For some the network can be crucial, supportive and a source of income. There is the split side of it being overloaded, and work becomes homogenized. There’s so much noise out there, it certainly makes you think how you can be different. I guess you have to take from it what you want and use it how works best for you personally or as a business.
What is one of your favourite places to visit?
B: I have been really lucky to travel a fair amount through my work and ventures. If I had to pick a favorite country it would be India. Working alongside artisans I felt totally inspired by their expertise and craftsmanship and privileged to gain an insight into their world. Breaking through the travelers veneer is key when visiting new countries. If you want to understand and see the most of a country, read it’s history, talk to the locals, cook their food, learn the people’s journey. India is bursting with history, life and colour – it’s evident everywhere in its rich textures and hues– it’s such a spiritual place. The whole point of travel is to slow down and embrace where you are. It’s about your own experience and interaction, not a tick list.