Firstly, Im so glad we ran into each other in a Uniqlo change room in Shibuya, Tokyo, what are the chances?! Tell us a little about your background and how it all began?
I studied art and fine arts majoring in painting, and then I just forgot about all the essays (laughs) and kept going with the practical Fine Arts course. COFA gave me the chance to explore a lot. They’re were’nt too directive with how they teach. A lot of the teachers there are artists themselves which is great. I had freedom to try lots of different mediums and styles. They were really encouraging in creating your own style rather than teaching you styles. In hindsight I realise I have been trying to develop a unique style of my own.
What would you call/ label your own style?
Ahhhhh…(laughs)I have done a lot of murals to keep the business side of it going and I really enjoy working in that large scale. Working with spray paint I think has influenced a layering effect. Being interested in street art culture has infiltrated into my style. This is complemented by my fine art background and love for that also.
How do murals come to fruition for you?
Initially when I was starting out, I would look for grants, council initiatives. I received an art start grant when I finished university and did NEIS, a short business course provided by the government. In that year I made my own website, applied for things and took every opportunity that came my way. I bought a good computer and camera. It really helped me! Thankfully now people come to me for work.
What was your first big commission?
It was at the Abercrombie Hotel. A girl wanted some help completing a mural, which I did with her. It was really fun!
How is it transitioning from small to large-scale works such as murals?
Really liberating! One of the first times I painted on a wall was illegally in a back alley near my house in St Peters. I bought some spray paint and was able to not be precious about what I produced. When I do things for myself its usually free style but when it’s a commission I will do a sketch, maybe even a painting that I like that I’ve done and ill blow it up as I like the composition and it saves me having to do a sketch.
Tell us about the painting behind us
This is a painting for a couple who’s wedding gift was a contribution towards an artwork. They went to NZ for their honeymoon so I used photos from the south bays islands as inspirations for the composition.
You don’t just limit yourself to painting and are involved in a very multifaceted creative industry. What is something new that you are working on?
When people ask me what I do, I often say a painter as that’s the area in which I feel most accomplished and I feel safe in saying yeah I can paint!
My first performance experience was with sketch the rhyme, live drawing interacting with rappers and musician. Music wise was Hermitudes song ‘speak of the devil’.Recently I have been performing as part of Urthboys live show. To completely answer your question we’ve started a new group called Haiku Hands and have been working a lot on that and making video clips.
How do you manage your individual art compared to commissions?
I try to get my own personal satisfaction from art I do for others. For example this commission is the style in which I’ve been working in anyway. It’s a good stage to get to, in the past it was me trying to please, meet a brief, but lately I have been able to say this is what I do.
Do you mainly work with oils?
No, I work with acrylic or spray paint. I find oils too fumey and messy. I work fairly quickly so I like the quick dry time. I am a really impatient person (laughs).
If you could contribute to anything, a mural, a house, what would you like you’re next big project to be?
I did get a random phone call the other day. An interior designer is working on a huge house on a cliff top and they want a wall done in the house. So that might be my next adventure. The surface will be really nice and smooth, I’d be painting in a nice environment and it sounds like a fun job. That is just one of the things though.
We recently bumped into each other in Tokyo. How has your Japanese background, travels influenced your style?
Japan is in my blood. I feel there is alot of instinctual aesthetic things that happen in my art in all areas of my art. My taste. Japan is so refined in their culture; they do things really well in getting to the heart of the issue. There is no fluff that we see so much in western culture. I’m also attracted to the simplicity of Japan and how objects are all very consciously placed yet not overcrowded.
What are some essential items that you might need for a bowery type space?
Paint (laughs) I’m usually here from around midday till late. I need lots of natural light. Once the structure and the colour scheme is set then I can continue to work under the fluoros if I need to. I feel comfortable here due to the causal vibe of this place, it’s not competitive. I need music and then I’m set!
You have collaborated with many people throughout your career so far, who is someone you wish to collaborate with in the near future?
That’s a really hard one. I actually feel really lucky at the moment with the people I have been collaborating with at the moment. There have been really hard times before this and now I know what it feels like for things to fall into place. I’m excited that people want to work with me and all my hard work has paid off.
Favourite complimentary colours?
To be honest, I’m obsessed with colours and how they interact with each other. I love how you can have two colours then add one more and the whole thing changes. Tonally, two colours might not work together depending on the right amount of white and black.
Are you constantly making new colours?
I’ve been using some really good quality paint that have a great range of colours. I then play with using them together. In the future I might start mixing my own to keep original.
Other visual artists you admire?
I guess artist’ like Klimt and Miro and that era of artists where they’re all trying their own styles. I like colour composition and when you can see that they’re loving what they do. They are all in their works. Colours are so important too.
Keeping on doing my art practice, working with the band and I’m going on tour with URTHBOY for the next 5 weeks. The future is bright (laughs) I’m really trying to incorporate more flow rather than push in my work.
Claire is represented by Day Fine Art Gallery in Blackheath. Her next show is in October.
Photography by Mark Sherborne at ‘MJS Pictures‘ at Claire’s studio in Marrickville, Sydney.