A Journey of Artistry and Unique Creations
By Guillaume Jean Lefebvre
Inga Strauss-Godejord, a name as intriguing as her artistic journey, brings together a blend of cultural influences and a passion for artistry that has defined her remarkable career. With a name that reflects the fusion of German-Latvian and Norwegian heritage, she embodies a fusion of creativity and diverse experiences that have shaped her unique path.
Born in a charming Latvian city nestled among seven hills, Inga's childhood was marked by a deep-seated love for art. From an early age, she could be found with paintbrushes in hand, seeking to express her creativity in any available space. Her artistic aspirations reached new heights with a mural-sized portrait of her mother, adorning a freshly renovated guest room wall—a testament to her early determination to paint the world in her own colors.
Inga's journey from her Latvian roots led her to various corners of the globe, including Norway, Singapore, Canada, and her primary home base for many years, Houston, Texas, USA. This rich tapestry of experiences from different cultures and landscapes has only enriched her artistic perspective.
The defining moments of Inga's childhood laid the foundation for her lifelong passion. Her fascination with art books and early encounters with the works of Dutch master Johannes Vermeer ignited a spark within her. Today, this spark continues to illuminate her daily life, providing a sanctuary where she can immerse herself in the world of art and expression.
Her professional journey began as an art teacher, nurturing young talents and preparing them for their artistic pursuits. With an academic degree in painting from the Art Academy of Latvia, Inga honed her skills and embarked on a path that would soon redefine her artistic identity.
The pivotal moment arrived when Inga delved deep into the intricate world of painting on silk. Years of dedicated study paved the way for the establishment of her own design firm, INGASILKS. As the owner and sole employee of the company, she oversees every aspect of her artistry, from sourcing high-quality silk to designing and marketing her one-of-a-kind pieces. Her mastery of silk painting has led her to teach master classes, sharing her expertise with eager learners.
Inga's approach to her work is marked by the enchantment of a blank silk canvas stretched on a frame—a canvas that beckons her to explore the colors that intrigue her on any given day. With freehand drawing as her signature, each piece of her art is a unique masterpiece, never to be replicated. Much like her art, Inga believes that each owner of her hand-painted wearable artwork is a unique individual, and her creations reflect this individuality.
Her professional journey is defined by a deep sense of pride in offering clients completely unique, hand-painted wearable artworks. The loyalty of her clients, with 70% being repeat customers, stands as a testament to the joy her creations bring to those who wear them. Their enthusiasm is her most cherished professional endorsement.
Balancing professional excellence with a rich personal life, Inga finds solace in her studio, where she can paint away any intrusions and maintain her creative focus. Looking ahead, she envisions a future filled with designing and painting on silk, participation in fashion shows and exhibits, and the continued sharing of her expertise with aspiring artists. Her goal is to infuse the world with more kindness, beauty, and style—one stroke of paint at a time.
Inga Strauss-Godejord desires to be perceived as an artist who not only creates captivating silk masterpieces but also shares the gift of joy with her clients and students. Her artistry is a beacon of positivity, and her journey continues to inspire and enrich the world of creativity.
1. Can you tell us more about the unique origin of your full name, Inga StraussGodejord, which combines German-Latvian and Norwegian elements? How does this name reflect your identity?
Inga is a feminine name with Scandinavian roots that is perfect for a mythology lover. It translates to “guarded by Ing,” and refers to the Norse deity Ing - a.k.a. Freyr - who represents peace and prosperity. Strauss in Latvian means Ostrich and in the Norwegian “Godejord” “Gode” means Good and “Jord” means Earth or Soil. Strauss is a somewhat common Latvian surname with linguistic roots in German, however Godejord is a rare and ancient surname, found almost solely in one region in Central Norway. There are only 53 people in the world who have this last name and most of those are my close or more distant relatives. Although my full name is long, not easy to pronounce, and spelling it out can take a lot of time, I can say with quiet confidence that my name contains everything that I believe, especially in these times, that we, humanity, most needs : peace, prosperity, stability, clean & fertile soil. The “Ostrich” stands strong and works diligently and creatively on the fertile earth. I co-exist very well with my full name and know that there is no one else with this name on our planet. But, if there was, I would be delighted to meet my “name sister”. In short, I believe that my full name represents me completely - as a person, and as a creative being - an artist.
2. You mentioned growing up in Rīga, Latvia, and later living in various places around the world. How have these diverse locations influenced your artistic journey?
I am very fortunate that I have had and continue to have the opportunity to become acquainted with many counties, cultures and traditions. In every place that I have lived I have tried to learn about what is traditional as well as uniquely characteristic to that region and have interpreted and incorporated these traditions and characteristics in my own work. The result of this rather nomadic travel and moving from place to place also has reflected in my choices for materials and styles in which to create. I have juggled painting in oil and acrylic, worked on prints and been drawn at times to pastels as my own views on life have evolved in depth and dimension. I have reached the conclusion that no artwork is ever, nor can ever be, completely finished because it it always evolving into the next inspiration, the next piece. It seems to me that you can begin a piece, but can not with complete and honest conviction say: “Finished! I am now done with this piece.” It may sound odd, but I believe that never being entirely completed is also true of “The journey of Art through the ages” or maybe just for my personal journeys and choices with Art always by my side.
Photographer: SINTIJA SANDORE @sintija.sandore.photograph
Model: INGA STRAUSS GODEJORD @ingasilks
MUA: KRISTINE BULDURE @buldurekristine
Hair: MARTA IGAUNE @martamakesyoup
Stylist: SINTIJA SANDORE @sintinja.sandore.photgraphy
Special thanks to Sarma Liepina-Muiznieks @smuiznieksl
Dress: Inga Strauss Godejord/INGASILKS
Scarves: Inga Strauss Godejord/INGASILKS
Neck tie: Inga Strauss Godejord/INGASILKS
Jacket: Tommy Hilfiger
Pants: Paige Maria
Shoes: Tommy Hilfiger
3. Childhood experiences often shape our passions. Could you share a specific memory or event from your early years that had a profound impact on your love for art?
My best friends in childhood were books, but, before I could read, these books were often art books with many reproductions. They formed early on my lifelong admiration, my piety, my love for art. I also recall with some humor that my grandmother’s art teacher in elementary school was a very well known artist. Knowing this, as a child, I often asked my grandmother to draw something. But when she drew, I was surprised that my grandmother, who had such an esteemed artist for a teacher, could hardly draw at all. Then I thought to myself that I will study with a famous artist and I will learn to draw very well.
4. Your fascination with art, particularly Johannes Vermeer’s work, started at a young age. Can you describe how Vermeer’s paintings resonate with you and continue to inspire your artistic pursuits?
Reproductions of Johannes Vermeer were the first I recall seeing in books as a very young child, thus I believe they have left such a strong and lasting impression. Vermeer remains one of my favorite classical painters, however I can not say that I glean singular inspiration from his works. I have studied the history of art and fashion design and I am inspired by many artists, architects, sculptors, fashion designers - both classical artists as well as contemporary artists. Their influence is rarely obvious in my work; it is more of a deep, colorful, emotional kaleidoscope from which I derive inspiration.
5. Your first professional experience was as an art teacher, preparing students for their artistic journeys. What insights did you gain from teaching that have enriched your own artistic practice?
To share, to give and to receive - those has always been my professional cornerstones and main motivation when teaching others.
6. Obtaining an academic degree in painting from the Art Academy of Latvia is a significant achievement. Can you share some memorable moments or experiences from your academic journey?
My formal academic art education at the Art Academy of Latvia no doubt has had a powerful influence on the person I have become. It formed my character, my relationships with others and with life. It influenced how I see and react to various objects, contrasts, and light. This time in my life was most magical - knowing that I am immersed daily in what matters most to me and that I am competent in, while at the same time the knowledge that every step will require study and hard work. The instructors were very skilled and creative and held each of us students to a very high standard. This expectation of quality determined the caliber and craftsmanship of the work we created.
7. Your career took a pivotal turn when you began to focus intensely on painting on silk. Could you elaborate on the journey that led to the establishment of your design firm, INGASILKS?
One day I realized that the extra stress of constantly packing and lugging heavy frames and easels, fragile canvases, bins of brushes, oils and acrylics from one country to another was not helpful to my creative process. I needed a new, lighter way of expressing myself through my art. Around the same time, the early 2000’s, painting on silk had become very popular in Europe. My choice became increasingly clear. What could be more ephemeral, more delightful, more beautiful than silk? Thus started my journey into the world of silk. When, in 2017, I again returned from Canada to our home in Houston, Texas I decided that it was time to establish my own company. But what to call it? I knew that I wanted the name of the business to not only reflect the artwork, but to reflect me as the creator or the collection. I also felt that by having the designer’s name be prominent in the name of the business means that I take full responsibility for the quality and the materials of all my pieces as well as for relationships with each of my clients. Thus, INGASILKS was born.
8. Painting on silk is a unique and intricate art form. Can you walk us through your creative process, from the blank silk canvas to the finished, one-of-a kind piece?
I am among the artists who do not wait for inspiration to motivate them, rather I believe that the unique IMAGINATION of the artist is the key to artistic growth. Thus my imagination is the most important component of my personal creative process. I do a lot of sketching before I tackle the actual painting on silk. Before I start painting it is also essential for me for my studio to be organized and quiet, for there to be emotional calmness and plenty of light. Brushes must be clean, dyes organized, and the silk perfectly stretched on the frame. Because of the material properties of silk, once you begin to paint on it you must work very quickly, be prepared to make every nuanced artistic decision for the piece at lightning speed. The process itself can have an uncontrolled and frenzied feel to it. Although I am not spontaneous by nature, in this field of painting on silk I find that it is exactly the spontaneity and speed that I must work with at when I am painting on silk that triggers my imagination to excel. Each piece begins its life as a pure white 100% silk stretched on a frame. Then a combination of techniques is used to create the vivid, colorful scarves and neckties, from a fluid watercolor method to a more controlled resist technique. I work with Sennelier Tinfix Design, H Dupont Classique or Jacquard silk dyes - the colors are highly concentrated and therefore very vivid and intense. Ad with all dye, fabrics remain soft, supple and transparent. Every piece is steam-set for hours for brilliant and permanent color. The medium provides a perfect process for interpreting the beauty and mystery of nature, and the body allows color and imagination to flow.
9. Your client base includes many repeat customers who eagerly await your new collections. What does the loyalty of your clients mean to you as an artist, and how does it fuel your creative passion?
I am immensely grateful to my faithful, returning clients for their loyalty throughout the years, as well as for new clients who have placed trust in me and my work. My clients are at my side during my creative journey, but my students are an integral part of this journey. I sincerely thank them all!
10. Balancing a successful professional career and personal life can be challenging. Could you share some stratagies or insights on how you maintain this balance and continue to find inspiration in your art?
I do not believe that at its core creative work facilitates a stable professional career and personal life. These two entities must continually complement each other and must work hard to live with each other. My personal life must always be ready and welcome the intrusions of my creative life, for the way my creative life engages, possesses, thrills, entwines, and mostly for the way it adds vivid color, harmony and depth to my personal life if I allow them both to breathe and to freely co-exist.
Quality, not quantity
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