For Claire Gill, photography is a way of seeing, exploring, and connecting with the world.
Claire uses her camera to record the things she is attracted to and wants to remember.
Almost like reconstructing a memory, Gill reconstructs her memories of the places she had once visited and felt an attachment to through digital photomontages,
Claire said that she believes "‘play’ is at the heart of creativity."
You can see this play throughout her work. Gills plays with the photographs she has taken—editing, layering, juxtaposing and combining photographs to create new scenes and new narratives.
"A love of color, surface, and structure inherited from my background in textile design combine to create poetic images," said Gill. These images "maintain a sense of the places that inspired them, but also leave space for the imagination."
There is a sense of joy you can see in Clair Gills's work—a feeling of airiness in her process that comes across in her layered montages.
You can see more of her work on the Artwork Archive Discovery Platform and read more about her art process and art business below.
Has your work changed over time—do you find yourself understanding your art career through different periods of expression?
I trained as a knitted textile designer, so have always been fascinated by color, structure, and surface. I used a camera to visually research projects and since then have always enjoyed using a camera as a way to look at the world. I think it makes me aware of the things I am really drawn to.
As a designer, my approach was very process-based, and I resolved designs through making rather than planning. In this respect, my approach has not changed.
However, my art practice is a natural result of everything that has gone before. I have worked as a textile designer, and photographer and have been involved in graphic projects, as well as a teacher—all of these things have fed into the way I approach my current work.
Do you have a favorite or most satisfying part of your process?
The most satisfying part of my process is arriving at an outcome that I never expected.
I never have a plan of what direction a piece of work will take. The joy for me is in discovering what the final image will be. Almost like doing a jigsaw puzzle, I discover how a series of photographic details can be layered together to create an entirely new picture and it always surprises me.
What has your artistic education consisted of (formal or not)? If you did receive a formal education like an MFA, did you find it necessary for your artistic growth, or did you find that elsewhere?
I studied knitted Textiles for my Master of Arts at the Royal College of Art in London. I loved studying and found the time I had at college to explore my process and respond to various design projects invaluable.
To be surrounded by other creatives was hugely inspiring.
It was at college that I taught myself to use Photoshop. It was a relatively new program back then and I used it for presentations and to collage mood boards together. Little did I know then that it would become so central to my practice years later.
I think that college gave me time—and, time is essential when you are learning anything.
Seascape 78 | Calm, Claire Gill Fine Art. 34 x 34 cm
What routines—art-making and administrative—are essential to success in your art career?
As much as I would love the making of art to be the main thing I do, there are so many other essential things that support this, that I need to address. Some are administrative and some are more hands-on.
When I finish a piece or several pieces of work, I need to save the files in different formats and back them up. Some are print files, some are for the web, some for marketing, etc. I need to add images to my website and write any text to accompany these images.
I print the images myself on a fine art printer, adding edition numbers, framing some, and leaving others unframed. I then deliver them to galleries or add them to other selling platforms. I record which editions have gone where on Artwork Archive.
Packing and posting are also a big part of selling work. It takes time to do it well and has been a steep learning curve sending work abroad. At other times I am ordering supplies.
Why did you decide to inventory and archive your artworks?
I realized quite quickly that there was a need to create an inventory of my works. I create limited edition prints and for each image, I produce three editions in a small, medium, and large size. There are a set number of pieces in each size edition, ranging from 10-50.
When I started selling my work and exhibiting in different galleries I needed to record where each edition of each print was and when it was delivered. Was it framed or unframed? Had it sold or been returned or lost? I started to record these things on a spreadsheet, but the spreadsheet was getting bigger and bigger, and my skills were not such that I could keep track of all the information I needed to keep track of.
As an artist who works on a computer, I feel the precariousness of technology. Computers can break down. I have lost thousands of photographs previously because I did not back them up and technology moves on. I wanted a system of inventory that was external to my own equipment, that would be there if for whatever reason my local records were lost or failed.
I wanted a system that could understand the complex needs of recording all my editions and the places they were being exhibited and sold etc. I found Artwork Archive did all of the things I needed and was very user-friendly.
What advice would you give an emerging artist during this time?
Find the time, show up, and do the work.
Time is relative.
When I was in college I always thought I didn’t have enough time to finish things. Then I started working to pay bills and the time available to produce any personal creative work was even more limited. Then I had kids and a full-on stressful job, and a house and any spare time virtually went out of the window.
Life happens. Unless you get an early break as an artist or are lucky enough to have financial support, the chances are you will be running your art practice alongside your life, working in the cracks of time, between your other responsibilities. This is what I have done. I have found and continue to find time and I really believe that the people who keep working—and find the time to do this—will get somewhere.
We are lucky as artists in the sense that we are driven to make work. We create because we need to create like we need to eat or drink, and this in itself is a powerful thing.
You are the only one who can make your work. It is your purpose, so find the time.
Claire Gill uses Artwork Archive to replace bulky spreadsheets and secure her art inventory.
You can save time messing with Excel, looking through scattered files, and digging up information just like Claire has. Take a look at Artwork Archive's free 30-day trial and ditch the spreadsheets.