Our interview with Tofino based artist Claire Watson

AIP: How would you describe your style of work and what is your preferred medium to work in? 

CW: I never really thought I had a ‘style’, but apparently I do. I have been told everything from Japanese style, to tattoos, to comic books, but I am not really sure that feels right or what to call it to be honest. I just like playing with the detail of line work, the flow if ink and letting it go with splashes of watercolour.

My inspiration and subject matter is inspired by the west coast. I live on a boat so I often have to work ‘small’, but I LOVE painting surfboards with spray paint, acrylic and paint pens… still waiting for someone to give me a wall to do a mural on! I have also lately been doing more digital work on my iPad pro… it is a game changer for illustration work. 

AIP: What were you first steps toward selling your art and what type of setting was this in, a gallery, art & crafts show, market, on-line or elsewhere?

CW: The local Market in Tofino was where I first really committed myself to selling my personal work only about 4 years ago. It then expanded to wholesaling to local shops. I am currently working towards expanding my market up and down the west coast. I have worked as a self employed illustrator and chalkboard artist for years prior to that (totally different style haha).

Drawing of West Coast Wildlife by artist Claire Watson

West Coast Wild by Claire Watson

AIP: Why do you choose Art Ink to print your reproductions, and what products to you order from us?

CW: I love the help, advice, speed, quality and service from Scott, Dan and the Art Ink Print team. They make it so easy to try new products, they know my palette, and give me the confidence to know I made the right choice in printers (although they are much more than just printers).

I mainly get press prints and art cards, but I have also printed a colouring calendar and canvas giclees from them. I would order more if I had more space!

AIP: If you could look back in time and meet yourself when you first started making an income as an artist; what would be the most valuable piece of advice you would give yourself?

CW: Start now. It’s a slow and steady process and takes patience, energy and time to build your ‘brand’… heck I am still building. Once you take that leap you will wonder why you didn’t start earlier. 

AIP: What are your favorite methods for marketing yourself as a self representing artist?

CW: Although I cannot stand so many aspects of social media, the ability to build your story and reach a broader market is invaluable if you can look past the garbage out there. My preference is instagram as it is more visual, and I have more engagement through it.

I also donate a monthly colouring page to the local Tofino Time magazine… its a popular magazine with a broad readership. I also donate my skills to Surfrider Pacific Rim for posters, booklets and other media.  I feel donating to and aligning yourself with organizations that have similar views and values is important for businesses these days.

AIP: Can you tell us an event or occasion which excited you the most, with regards to getting your art ‘out there’ for people to see?

CW: Illustrating a patch design for Patagonia was on my ‘bucket list’ since I was in my 20’s and I recently illustrated an activity book for BC Ferries… it was just launched to it is pretty high on that list too. There’s one more, but it is still a secret until next spring.

I also really enjoy the Saturday Tofino Market. The conversations I have and the feedback I get from people who compliment me or purchase my work is worth more than the monetary sales.

AIP: Where can our followers and your patrons find your work, and keep up to date with your new creations?

CW: My website www.clairewatson.com, @bearfootcreativestudio on Instagram is my main channel for all aspects of my work. I usually just share finished work on facebook.com/bearfootcreativestudio.

AIP: Any other comments you would like to share?

CW: Thanks Art Ink print for doing these stories. It isn’t often we get the opportunity to think about these questions while we are hiding away in our studios just ‘working’! haha! To anyone else who has supported my journey… I thank you! :) 

Thank-you so much Claire for sharing your story with us, we’re big fans of your West Coast inspired creations!