Susan Claire ditched her job in the smoke as a shoe designer to live by the sea and make art and she’s really quite good too. Jealous much? We interviewed her for the latest issue but thought you’d like to enjoy her words and rad ass art here too
Have you always been into making art?
I have always been into looking at art, whether it be online or at exhibitions. I have only recently found the confidence in my style and started creating my own art – I have really found myself.
When did you work out you could make a living from it?
At my last job in the shoe world I had one of my illustrations on my desk (it was in fact my first ever ‘proper’ drawing). My boss at the time noticed it and really loved it. She requested some commission pieces for her new house. This moment set the wheels in motion. It never occurred to me people would even want to look at my creations, let alone buy them! It is very satisfying.
Was it scary to quit your job as a shoe designer?
Yes it was, it was all I knew since leaving college and for so long I thought it was the future. But I took a step back and realised I was trying to break free from it in my art. I am grateful for all the design experience I gained and have not turned my back on the footwear industry! I’m just following my trail. Life is full of delightful twists and turns and for now I am enjoying this new creative journey I am on!
Is there anything you miss about it?
Free shoes! I actually really miss brainstorming with other people, it’s amazing when you bounce off a team of creatives – enthusiasm is quite contagious. Lucky for me I am a naturally motivated individual, so I am quite good at managing myself. I miss travelling, I was lucky to have travelled all over for research trips.
Why do you produce surf art as opposed to any other kind of art?
I am interested in all subject matters and I like designing artwork that I myself would like to come across. I think that is the key to being a happy artist, producing work that you would put on your own wall. But surf art is a great excuse to be bold with colour and use nature as a concept. An artist evolves and explores different looks, but their details shine through. If you look at some of my illustrations on my website you will see they are not surf art based, but you can still pick it out as mine. At the moment I am working on a couple of abstract pieces, it’s all about experimenting!
Do you surf a lot in Woolacombe, Devon where you live?
I try a lot, does that count?! I love being in the water, it’s a great way to zone out and I am happy to spend forever working on my surfing skills. I am very lucky to have the beach on my doorstep and take full advantage of it! Woolacombe is very special to me as it was my childhood summer holiday each year. I used to get so upset when I left after a week, it was a real heartbreaker. I think it is the most beautiful place I have ever seen, it is very picturesque with the endless stretch of sand, sea and rolling hills. There is nowhere else like it.
Why is the ocean such a source of inspiration for so many people do you think?
I think it washes away negativity and helps you level out. All problems seem to become insignificant as you stare out to such an expanse of the unknown. It is best to be relaxed when seeking inspiration, and focusing the mind on watching waves roll in can channel fresh thoughts and lead to creativity. It brings you back down to earth.
Which other artists inspire you?
The Finnish design company Marimekko, and the surf artist Erik Abel.
Do you ever suffer creative block?
Most of the time I don’t really struggle for ideas. But if I do I take a walk along the seafront and get some fresh air, or meditate in a quiet room. This usually helps bring on my creativity.