Artist Interview: Meet Claire Desjardins

Posted by Dawn Laing on

As part of the GelaSkins X Microsoft Collaboration, six Canadian artists were chosen to launch the first exclusive collection of Surface GelaSkins and we can't wait to introduce you to each of them! Find out what makes them tick, how they approached this collaboration and their thoughts on art as a career path. 
GelaSkins Claire Desjardins

INTRODUCING: Claire Desjardins

Where do you live now / where is your hometown?

I live in Gore, Quebec, which is one hour north of Montreal, in the Laurentians. We live in the woods.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Inspiration is all around me, in my day-to-day. I try to represent what I see and feel, not to reproduce it. When I was younger, I loved scuba diving. I was wowed by the electric colours of the fish, coral and sponges and I think I have always kept a bit of that with me. I love colour and repeated patterns.

Cobblestones Claire Desjardins

Your artwork is very abstract, has it always been so, or is this a style you’ve developed over time?

Ever since I’ve been a working artist, my artwork has been abstract. As a child, I followed the teachers’ directives, and we made whatever it was that the class was making. I often created the abstract version of it, though. I’d explain it by saying that I was creating the feeling I get about something. I have abstract pieces dating back to early childhood. There are elements of what I did then, that I still carry with me.

Claire Desjardins GelaSkins

Did you go to artschool? If so, where? If not, what made you choose your direction as an artist and jump right in?

I did not go to school for art, despite my parent's encouragement to do so. I was afraid of becoming a cliché “starving artist”, as I had seen so many do. Instead, I took a rather convoluted path toward busines and later got a corporate job, designing application interfaces for mobile devices. My substrate was measured in pixels, and my hands remained clean, as I manipulated my work with a keyboard and mouse. I painted on weekends, only, which I really enjoyed. Pretty soon, I was selling paintings through social media. When I got laid off from my day job, I thought that it would be a good time to try my hand as a full-time working artist. The stars aligned, and I was picked up by a couple of art galleries almost immediately, and I also started licensing with a large retailer. I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time, and my new career took off. I have never worked harder, and I have never been happier!

What was the scariest thing you’ve done to date as it relates to your professional art career? Some artists have told us they have completely changed styles only to revert back to a previous style… others have told us they left a comfort zone of sharing in their small town and trying to make the leap to a bigger city, bigger market.

The leap from a regular, corporate job to becoming an artist, and trusting myself to make the right decisions was terrifying. It was a sink or swim situation, and fortunately, I swam. I am still driven by fear, to this day (what if the success suddenly goes away?). Fear is what makes me work as hard as I do, though I am learning to trust in the universe, slowly but surely.

What is your favourite medium?

Trusty acrylic paints are my all-time favourites. I know how to manipulate them, so that they give me the desired effects. Every so often, they surprise me, too. I like not knowing what to expect from my art. I love surprises, and I try to respond to the stray marks that the materials and tools may create. It’s a dialogue.

For this featured collection you created a piece on the Microsoft Surface, for the Surface. How was this different than your everyday art practice, if at all?

Well first off, it’s a lot cleaner to use: no paint under my fingernails! I’m a very messy painter in the studio, and I’m also quite spontaneous. I love how the Surface allows me to to continue that spontaneity. I am using different tools to achieve the designs I want, but I can still create gestural lines and forms, and the on-screen colours are brilliant and exciting to me. I love how I can capture ideas on the go. I travel quite a bit, and when I’m confined to an airplane seat for 5 or so hours, it’s really nice to be able to play around with ideas. I always used to feel that travel time was lost time, because I couldn’t really make art. I would often have ideas, but if I didn’t draw or paint them somewhere, they’d be lost. That is no longer the case. I also like that I can now create mockups for larger paintings. This is something that is useful for commissioned pieces, as it allows my clients to envision the way I perceive their request, before starting a large format piece.

What’s next for you? Any upcoming shows?

I’m getting ready for ArtExpo NY (April 21-24, booth S112). It will be my first time at that show, and I’m excited and nervous at the same time. I think I always get a bit nervous before a show, as I wonder if my artworks will be well received or not. Hopefully, they will be.

SHOP the Claire Desjardins collection HERE and if you want to learn more about her you can find here: 

Instagram handle: claire_desjardins_art (https://www.instagram.com/claire_desjardins_art/)
Anywhere else they should look?
Photos by David Glickman

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