Claire has spent eight years in Japan teaching English and selling jewellery and has studied English, History, Jewellery Design, Gemmology and Graphic Design. Now back in Adelaide, Claire creates colourful gouache paintings inspired by botanical forms that feature graphic florals. From these original artworks Claire creates limited edition prints and a range of greeting cards that are all made in Adelaide.
For those who don’t know, how would you describe your work?
I create colourful gouache paintings mostly inspired by botanical forms that feature graphic florals and leaves with clean lines between colours. From the original artworks, I produce limited edition prints and a range of greeting cards that are all made in Adelaide. I like to think my artworks are positive and happy images.
How did your journey begin, what Is your story? Who or what inspired you to begin in your field.
I always enjoyed art at school but straight out of high school, I spent a year studying English and History at Adelaide Uni before changing direction and studying Jewellery Design at the University of South Australia. After graduating, I worked in the Jewellery industry for a few years and continued to study part time, at first completing a Diploma of Gemmology and later returning to Adelaide Uni to continue studies in English Literature. Still feeling a bit lost in direction, I went back to Uni SA and spent a year studying Graphic Design which I loved. At this time, I decided to take a year off and travel to Japan to teach conversational English. One year in Japan soon extended to eight years after I met my husband there. We took a trip to Europe, which re-ignited my desire to design and make jewellery again and I created a range of jewellery that I began selling at local markets in Nagoya and Tokyo and through galleries and pop-up shops in department stores. After becoming a mum, my focus shifted away from jewellery and I began making small black and white illustrations to stay creative in my spare moments. The work I am doing now has really grown and evolved from these small illustrations but is also inspired by all these experiences I have had, teachers I have met and creative beings I have crossed paths with over the years.
What are your current artistic influences and what inspires you to carry on doing what you’re doing?
When I am working on a new series of pieces, I try not to spend too much time looking sideways but there are so many brilliant artistic influences from the past and present to be inspired by. I love Japanese woodblock prints, 1920s poster designs, Impressionist painters, the work of Paul Klee, Graphic Designer Rex Ray, surface pattern designs from Marimekko and many contemporary painters and designers whose work I follow on Instagram. I think I am mostly inspired to continue what I do when I receive positive feedback from people who tell me my art makes them feel happy or has inspired them to start painting or creating again. I love that the work I do allows me to choose the hours I work so I can be there for my family when they need me.
What’s a typical day for you?
My alarm rings gently at 6:50am but since I am not a morning person, I will continue to hit the snooze button until 7:30am when I must be up to make our children breakfast and help them prepare for school. My husband takes our children to school so by 8:30 the house is quiet and it’s coffee and breakfast time for me while I check emails and scroll Instagram. I get to my desk around 9. If I am working on a new series of pieces then my day will mostly be spent drawing or painting or if it is just after an exhibition, then I will likely be editing digital files ready to print or printing and packaging prints or cards and delivering to local stockists. At 3pm I stop work to pick up the kids from school and often do a run to the post office to post any orders and then my time is with my family until the kids go to bed around 8. At 8.30pm, I have my second coffee for the day and find my second wind to continue work. My evenings are spent either printing and packaging, catching up on emails or other admin such as accounting or updating my website etc. I find my evenings are the best time to work on new drawings and ideas for new paintings. I try to finish work around midnight but it is more likely1am before the computer is off and I am finally in bed.
Which other designers are you looking forward to seeing when you come to Bowerbird on November 25 – 27?
Bowerbird Design Market is a real celebration of established creators who continue to evolve and develop their work as well as a place to discover new artists whose work you have never seen before and I look forward to seeing everyone. I love admiring the work of Alfie and Audrey and Kitty Came Home. I am a huge fan of the oh-so-cute Fleeci softies and am always dreaming of owning more Dana Kinter originals. I love the originality of A.nouk’s style and the colourful fun of Kate Mason’s and Pip Kruger’s illustrations. Looking forward to seeing what One Thousand Lines have been up to recently and it’s always wonderful to see the work from interstate designers and makers. I must confess that as a stallholder, I don’t get as much time to visit other stalls as I would love to – I always wish I had more time to see the clothing and textile designers that always look really interesting as I am whizzing past before the market opens.
What’s your favourite piece of your own work that will be available for at Bowerbird?
I recently completed a series of Botanic paintings for an exhibition at Brick + Mortar that I will have available as prints up to A2 size. I will also bring along a few of my favourite gouache originals.
What advice would you give other aspiring artists and designers?
Work hard to develop your own unique style. Remember to enjoy the journey and celebrate small steps and achievements along the way. It is never easy even when it looks like it is; keep persisting through the toughest times. Stay humble and open to learning. Ask for help but be prepared to find the answers for yourself. It is easy to become disheartened but always try hard to make your next piece a little better than the one before. Listen to advice and constructive criticism – we all have room to improve. Connect with like-minded creatives who can share the ups and downs with you.