photos CLAIRE RITCHIE
A powerful force for change, art can make a deep and moving impact on our hearts and minds. With so many talented creatives in Australia moving and shaking to make the world a better place – and because Earth without art is just ‘eh’ – we’ve introduced a digital series called Art with Heart to showcase the superstars in our local art scenes.
Not only a stalwart in the Brisbane creative scene but a fierce supporter of local makers, Claire Ritchie knows what it means to make art you can feel good about. In her sunny Brisbane studio, she transforms her blooming beautiful illustrations into art prints, wall hangings, stationery, textiles and original paintings that we just adore.
Claire’s latest endeavour sees her partnering up with the team at Felons Brewing Co to launch The Great Artist Market. Happening this Saturday 21 October, more than 50 local artists and artisans will take over Felons Barrel Hall so you can browse wonderful wares from some of Brisbane’s most talented makers. It’s free, family-friendly and there’ll be live music, entertainment and, of course, delicious brews. We caught up with Claire to learn more.
How did you come to be an artist?
I think unbeknownst to me, I started creating and making because it felt good. I began making my own clothes and jewellery when I was about 14 years old and I’ve never really stopped making since then. I also need to know how things work, so pulling apart a piece of clothing to understand how it goes together was super interesting to me. My art now is always created with deep thought and strong feelings and usually very personal to what’s going on in my life at the time. It’s cathartic. Wholesome. I love making. It gives me a release and love all at once.
Tell us about your creative process…
Everything starts as a hand-drawn piece. I work with Posca Markers, basically paint markers, and then digitise and add colour. Even if I’m creating a painting, I still start with this process. And I always have music playing. I love how music can move me into the right space to create or can draw out a feeling that is a bit stuck.
It’s cathartic. Wholesome. I love making. It gives me a release and love all at once.
Where do you find inspiration and what motivates you to create?
Anything can inspire me really, but I am mostly inspired by my thoughts, feelings and natural surroundings. Flowers mostly, but these are always a more made-up, imaginative style. I sometimes catch a look between two people and that can be deeply inspiring too.
Has your style/practice changed over time?
Yes. I used to do more line work in my drawing and drew a lot of female characters. I now have more solid block shapes and lots of bold, vibrant colours. I think once I felt confident in my style, I really just went with it and it has strengthened over time.
Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
Music! I always have something playing in my headphones or on the speaker. I use it as a tool to create. I find it can draw out certain thoughts and feelings that then translate into work. It also helps me focus as I can get distracted easily and I sometimes need to really zone in and get things finished.
It can help us to heal. It can help us to understand ourselves and those around us better. It can create change. It can challenge us and our views. It can bring people together.
Why do you think art is important to society and what could society do to better support artists?
Art is important to society because it can help us to heal. It can help us to understand ourselves and those around us better. It can create change. It can challenge us and our views. It can bring people together. Art is celebrated across cultures and is a universal language that can unite us. Art is powerful.
What are you working on currently that excites you?
Right now I am working on a fresh new artist market! Myself and creative entrepreneur Tamara Scheiwe, along with Felons Brewing Co, have created The Great Artist Market. It’s a community-driven project that aims to connect local, hard-working artists with a wide array of people from Meanjin/Brisbane and beyond! It’s also a celebration of all the incredible talent that we have here in this magical city. It’s coming up on 21 October if you want to check it out!
Who are your biggest artistic influences?
I would say that I am more inspired by musical artists in my work than anything else. I’m in awe of the storytelling and vulnerability that musicians show through their performances. People and bands I’ve listened to heavily at times include Björk, The Knife, Portishead, Little Dragon, Lauryn Hill, Moby, MIA and Kimbra. One of my favourite artists is Björk. Her music is completely ‘her’ and you can see that in everything she does. She’s one of a kind. I think it’s helpful to be inspired by artists outside your own realm of creativity.
What’s your favourite work of art (not your own)?
A favourite artwork of mine is Women’s Business by Mavis Nampitjinpa Marks.
What would be your ultimate dream project?
I would love to design a playground! That’s the absolute dream. I want to see my blooms life-size and being enjoyed and loved by all.