#Gathre Good with Claire Nereim of Plant Planet
Tell us your story, How did you get into art and why?
My father is an architect and taught my sister and me to make things by hand, which gave us some confidence working with various materials. I have always made drawings and collages. I began college as an English literature major but took a printmaking class, which I fell in love with. I ended up majoring in visual art, then studied graphic design when I first moved to San Francisco. I love that art and design, which are everywhere in our lives, are fields of inquiry that allow me to think about and work through whatever feels urgent.
Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?
I always knew I wanted to make art, but I’m a late bloomer and it took me a long time to realize that I was serious about being an artist, and that I wanted to figure out how to make creative work be my career.
Growing up in Chicago, my parents kept a garden with fruit trees, vegetables and herbs, and we ate pretty seasonally. When I moved to California I was amazed to encounter so much and varied local produce year round, and it inspired me to learn more about botany. Plant Planet, as a project, started in San Francisco, where I just wanted to draw fruits and leaves and seeds.
What does being an artist teach you?
Everyone is making creative decisions all the time. My own education and practice have taught me that being an artist is really about looking with care, and paying close attention to things.
How has your life been affected by Covid-19 and what are you doing to overcome the challenges and appreciate life a little more as a result
Everything has changed. My partner and I are trading off child-care and work days since nursery school is cancelled, and my child is desperately missing friends, parks, and especially the library. We have developed a pretty tight schedule of craft time, gardening time, gymnastics or walks and quiet play, and thankfully we still get a nap most days. In some ways it’s incredible to have so much one-on-one time with a 3-year old, and we are very lucky to be healthy and safe, but it’s also very challenging and scary. We are, however, spending family time working on our garden, which is a pleasure.
When are you most creative and how do you foster getting into that headspace frequently?
I am a morning person, and I love to make a list in the sunlight with a cup of coffee. When I can’t work in the mornings, or am feeling uninspired, I try to make time to look at my art books and work my way through online museum collections—there are so many collections around the world being digitized and it’s a great resource especially when you’re stuck at home. (The Met, The Getty, The Smithsonian)
Who are some of your artist inspirations, icons, or mentors?
Again and again I turn to Tove Jansson, Beatrix Potter, Herbert Leupin, and the catalog of WPA screenprint poster designs.