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Meet Camilla Grove of Artlala in Marina Del Rey

Today we’d like to introduce you to Camilla Grove.

Camilla, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Our founder Fabienne Wen was invited to a high school reunion party, an “art jam” in Hong Kong. She didn’t know how to draw or paint, had never touched acrylic, so she sat back and watched her friends. Their creativity and immersion, their joy and pride, inspired her to make a collage the minute she got home.

Artlala was born that night – Fabienne decided if she could do it, anyone could. Her friends came up with her artist signature and name, Wondermei. When she conducted free Artlala workshops for the mentally challenged, her friends donated time, money, art supplies. Then they sold those Artlala collages and shadow boxes at a church fair, to raise more money for the handicapped.

When Fabienne returned to the U.S., she asked me to help her create a space for art by all and for all, because all too​ often art​ isn’t a priority in our education system and family homes. ​I became her Director of Everything. A jack of all trades who needed to be good at everything — from building a website to planning events to hiring like-minded people.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The creation of Artlala has been a road full of changes and transformations. Each time that our team grows, we have a new voice with his or her own experiences that inform the future of Artlala. Our biggest stumbling block has been manpower, since our team consists of people with other commitments and jobs. Fabienne also has a knack for raising money much more quickly than we are able to spend it, so there is always more to do. She also adds new projects and frequently has new ideas which changes Artlala’s immediate priorities.

Artlala – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
We go out of our way to support non-mainstream artists. We want to use the ​existing art and commerce ​system to​ throw open the doors and ​create an even playing field. We do everything from giving away hand-painted totes and shirts on the Venice Beach boardwalk in exchange for voluntary donations to ACLU, to listing donated goods on eBay with all profits going to Planned Parenthood. We also promote the art of underprivileged children from Las Familias Del Pueblo at local LA farmer’s markets. At the same time, we sell works by artists from Warhol to Dana Louise Kirkpatrick on sites like Artsy.net and Shopify. We are continuing to use the proceeds from this to support places like School on Wheels, Students Run L.A and First Place For Youth.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I’m proud every time we have a success. For me, success is being able to check the box on goals I’ve set for myself. Whether that is writing a poem for our artist Wondermei to use in her art or reading a film script for work. Artlala looks at success similarly. We want to hit the goals we’ve set out for ourselves, like doubling the amount we are able to donate to the various organizations we work with that support youth and those with disabilities. Last year, we donated up to $160,000. However, this year, we ​want to do more than just write checks. We want to expand our reach and work with people like Geena Davis who is doing wonderful things with SeeJane.Org. We love what art can do, and want to work with Geena Davis and others to use art to bring underrepresented groups front and center.

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