Tell us a bit about yourself, location, present job, personal stuff.
Born and bred in the hot and humid Florida sunshine, I studied Illustration at Ringling College of Art & Design in Sarasota. After I graduated in 2005, I was offered a job at American Greetings, so I made the long haul to the cloudy city of Cleveland, Ohio, near the shores of Lake Erie. I've been illustrating greeting cards for almost 5 years, and in my spare time I make an effort to work on my own personal art projects. My husband and I bought our first home in 2009 which has room for a studio, which is very exciting for both of us. He's an artist as well, and we're happy to have a little space devoted completely to our work. But, clear blue-skied days are rather scarce here, so if the weather's nice I tend to get distracted and go play outside instead!
What inspired you to become an artist and how old were you then?
Growing up, I was surrounded by art. My father is a freelance illustrator and my mother works at the Orlando Museum of Art. Our bookcases were always filled with art books and I enjoyed drawing with my father in his studio. I don't remember an exact moment when I thought, "art is the thing for me." It was all around me and seemed as natural as breathing! I think I've always viewed the world with an artistic eye and see the potential for an illustration in everything from musical phrases to short stories to everyday accidental moments.
Please describe your materials and medium you use in your pieces.
Until fairly recently, all my work has been done traditionally - paint, graphite, paper, ink, etc. But the last few years, I've moved much more into digital work. My job often requires me to work digitally, and I enjoy the ease with which I can correct mistakes or alter color or resize an image. I still enjoy working with oils and acrylic and charcoal and love the feeling of getting my hands dirty (I'm always proud to have ink under my fingernails), but I don't work traditionally as much as I'd like to. I'm hoping to get back into the habit of creating more handmade pieces and find my own balance between the computer and the pen.
Who are your favorite artists? Why?
I grew up idealizing J. W. Waterhouse, Gustav Klimt, Egon Shiele, Alphonse Mucha and Edward Gorey. Most folks can really see their influence in my college work. Since graduating, I've come across such an endless number of talented artists and illustrators (many of them young) that I would have a very difficult time choosing a current favorite. My husband and I own a fairly hearty little art collection, much of which has been created by friends and other local artists. We're lucky to know so many talented people!
What’s been your favourite project so far?
Looking back on my college thesis, I'm still really pleased with how those 6 paintings came together. It was my most ambitious project at that point and took a lot of time and effort. I've sold numerable prints of those pieces and still enjoy them myself after all these years. Since that time, I've done so much new work that it's difficult to choose a favorite.
What is a constant challenge for you and most rewarding part of having a creative profession?
Since I spend so many hours doing creative work for my day job, it can be a real challenge to get myself motivated to continue being creative and productive once I get home. Most of the time, I'd rather plop down with a film or have a picnic by the lake. I'll do most anything to avoid the things I really should be doing! So, to make sure that I put in time creating my own artwork, I have to arrange to be in gallery shows or set fixed goals for myself. Sometimes, drawing is the very last thing I want to do after a day at the office where all I've been doing is drawing, but seeing all those finished pieces hanging on a gallery wall or posted online is really rewarding. Once I see how much I've accomplished for myself, I'm always glad that I've taken the time to create on my own.
What do you do when you are not working?
We bought our little house specifically in an area West of downtown Cleveland that allows us to walk or bike pretty much anywhere. Picnics, hikes, strolling to the local ice cream parlor or library, watching all kinds of movies (my husband has a ridiculously enormous DVD collection), reading, cooking, bowling, enjoying dinner with friends... I'm a girl who is fairly easily entertained!
How do you use your blog for your art?
I'm not at all savvy when it comes to html, so my blog is an easy and convenient venue for me to display my newest work online. And the pressure I feel to update my blog regularly motivates me to create work more often so that I can share it with readers. I feel guilty when I miss a day or two (although that can't be helped sometimes). Even if it's just a quick sketch or some small silly piece I did for fun, updating my blog regularly encourages me to take time each day to create art just for myself.
I noticed that the most of your pieces that you have on your photo gallery have owls and birds in it, and was wanting to ask you about that.
Magical realism is so fascinating to me, especially things that float or fly. My favorite book is House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende, in which the main character unintentionally levitates when lost in thought. I've created quite a few pieces that hint at some sort of defiance of gravity and birds seem to be the most natural manifestation of that idea in the real world. Birds are used as symbols in so many cultures and owls especially seem to represent something ethereal and unearthly. In my work, birds are usually cheerful and represent happiness and high spirits, although occasionally, they're quieter - my owls are often partially hidden, watchful observers.
Describe your work on which you are currently working?
Just recently, I finished a whole bunch of new pieces for a little solo show. Two of my favorites are Ren & Snippet and Clementine, Lemon & Peet, in which I experimented with pattern in silhouette. The juxtaposition of the cat and the two owls was totally unconscious, but I'm pleased with that happy accident. The cat seems uninterested, so I think the owls are safe. Lately, I haven't been able to get the idea of feathers out of my brain, so I did several digital paintings of stylized, brightly colored feathers bound with ribbon. They're pretty different from my usual work, and I'm happy with how they turned out.
What are your future plans and dreams?
Books have always been important to me. As a child, if I wasn't lurking on a tree branch somewhere, I was reading. I enjoy writing short stories and bizarre little poems and would love to publish my own illustrated books. I have quite a few ideas and am hoping to have something to show for it in the not-too-distant future!
Claire Mojher's blog: http://clairemojher.blogspot.com/