It’s Monday again and i’m excited to introduce you to another inspiring business woman for our ‘Jennifer Hamley meets’ series. This week, I have the pleasure of chatting to artist, Clare Haxby, a lady who sells her art across the globe, and who has had a lot of fun and experience in many fields getting to where she is now.
Clare’s career started with a bang; on graduation she sold a series of life drawings to The Victoria and Albert Museum. Through her solo art shows that followed, she created ‘The Green Design Company’, producing ecologically themed printed t-shirts and gift ware selling retailers worldwide. Clare also designed printed textiles for leading high street retailers Liberty’s of London, Debenhams Tie Rack and Whistles.
In the late 90’s Clare’s career took a different direction. After meeting directors in the film industry, she started working as a specialist creative make-up artist for commercials and pop videos for artists such as Simply Red and Jamaroquai amongst others. Clare also spent some time working on fashion and hair shoots for celebrity hairdressers such as Charles Worthington and Trevor Sorbie.
A posting to Singapore in 2007 brought Clare back to her first love; painting and drawing. I absolutely love to hear stories from women that follow their calling, whilst being open to opportunities that arise. Especially when the lady in question grabs those opportunities with both hands and lives such a fulfilled life.
Hi Clare, I enjoyed researching your past career for my introduction, I had no idea when we first met that you have had such a varied and exciting career! It’s fabulous to get to talk to you, how are you today?
Hello Jennifer, I am great thanks I am sat in my home studio in Surrey which is a beautiful light filled space even in the British winter, we have only been in this house for 5 months so I am loving being at home as there has been a lot to do to and my daughter Scarlett just got back from Sydney last night so I am enjoying having time with her today, she went to visit friends we made in Singapore where we lived for 8 years till last year.
It sounds like you’ve found a lovely place – one of my own ‘must haves’ in a home is a light filled space. I lived in a lovey flat for a while in Bristol, but it was in the basement, NO LIGHT! I can’t do that again – light feeds passion and creativity! Can you tell us a little about your passions?
From being a child I have always had a need to create, I am an artist and print maker. I have always created even when there has been no money or recognition, it’s just something I need to do. My passion is painting and drawing, creating a new image, a new design. I have made paintings that have made clients cry (with good emotion). I love colour. I have worked as a creative makeup artist and interior stylist designer freelance but my perfect day in in my studio with uninterrupted time ahead, my paints and the radio/music.
I totally get this, uninterrupted time to create is bliss – we are so lucky that we can use what we love to do to earn a living aren’t we?
When you decided to make money from your art, how did you know it was the right time?
I am an artist and designer. I have pretty much always worked for myself and never had a ‘proper job’ as such but I have taken time off working to bring up my first 2 children Teddy and Scarlett who were born 16 months apart in London. My ‘art career’ was on the back burner because of my babies when my husband got a job offer to go to Singapore which we took and spent from 2007 -2015 living in Singapore having only gone out for a 2-3 year expat posting. It was during this period that I was able to refocus on my studio practice, I started painting large paintings of Singapore’s Landmarks and unique architecture which led to an exhibition at The Fullerton Hotel a Conde Naste hotel on the Marina. It was the right time because I wanted to get back to creating ART again and the lifestyle in Singapore made it much easier. We had a live-in housekeeper which was life changing in that my time the kids were at school was time I could spend on my work rather than domestics. After my first solo exhibition I started hosting monthly open days at my studio and this really put my studio on the map in Singapore. I was creating one off original paintings and also a range of limited edition prints. The expats started buying the prints as gifts or memories of Singapore to take back to their home countries, and I sold many of my larger paintings to clients in New Zealand, Costa Rica and New York then several ambassadors visited my studio and The french Embassy put in a large order to redecorate the interior.
Such a fabulous opportunity AND results, it sounds like the post in Singapore really kicked things off in the right direction for getting back to your art. It sounds like you made the most of the time you had while the children were in school, creating your work and building a client base. So many artists and designers forget about the business side of things and and grow frustrated – it really is about getting ourselves out there and being inspired in every area.
Where do you go for inspiration?
I am inspired by my environment, nature and travelling. When I was based in Singapore my main collection of work was inspired by Singapore Landmarks. Then when I moved to Surrey, England last August my clients were saying ‘So you will be doing London Landmarks next right?’ and yes I have started my London Collection with a painting of the iconic Liberty London building. I’m travelling to Miami and Key West next week mainly for pleasure but I am taking my sketchbook to draw some of the glamorous marinas, I’d love to do another yacht destination painting like the one I created of Keppel Bay for clients in Singapore.
I look forward to seeing the sketches from your travels, I also love that you listen to your clients and friends. Client and customer feedback is invaluable in any business I think – a great relationship builder too. What’s next for you, any exciting challenges ahead?
Yes, I have finished my Liberty London painting the first in my London Landmarks Collection and I will be creating a limited edition print of it, I am just having the branding designed at the moment. The prints are limited edition and come with an edition number and are signed by me and printed on a beautiful pare then rolled in a gift tube. I send my prints internationally. I’m still building up my London network as we only moved back last year, the last year has been crazy as we moved twice in 11 months (don’t ever do that) we moved from Singapore to a rented house then moved again once we had bought a property, then had builders working on it for 4 months. This year is different as I can really return to focusing on my paintings and the next painting I will be starting is of Kew Gardens, I love the humid Palm House, it reminds me of living in the tropics!
I am so glad that you followed your friends suggestions and started London landmarks – I’m in LOVE with your Liberty’s painting. I have plans and dreams of one day having the Jennifer Hamley brand stocked there, so I must get a print as my vision board! I can’t wait to see your Kew Gardens pieces too.
Have you ever been tempted to give up? What advice do you give to others who might feel that way?
Loads of times fleetingly and a couple of times less fleetingly when I visualised packing my brushes into a box and putting them out of sight. As an entrepreneur and especially in the creative field you get rejections constantly, some days you are just not in the mood to get an email saying your work hasn’t been selected for so n so exhibition when you were up all night completing the application and it cost quite a bit for the entry fee and you already had 6 others that month. I have also had other blatantly copy my business model. Although it’s frustrating, I always know I have a million other ideas and I spend my precious energy on moving on and developing my own ideas, I have so many ideas but not enough time to work on them it’s like the reverse of creative block.
The day to day challenge is diving my time between creative time, family and the business time I often feel I am stealing from one to serve the other, like a lot of working mums I need a bit more energy and time in every one of my days or a cloning gene would do it!
I can relate to this, and I’m sure most of our readers can too. It always comes back to the fact that we can’t live without creating though, doesn’t it! I’m so pleased to hear that you also suffer from the reverse creative block – I too wish I had more time to work on all the things that I’d like to. Maybe we could add an extra day to each week?
It’s been amazing talking to you Clare, thank you for taking the time to share your story today – I adore your pictures too, I just want to come and paint in your studio for hours and hours!
Join us again on Thursday when we take a peek into Clare’s handbag – I can’t wait! You can find our more about Clare across the internet with the links below – do get in touch and introduce yourself to this inspiring lady.
Have a fantastic week,