Local Artist Claire Ritchie Talks Study and Small Business

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Feature Image Source: http://www.helloclaireritchie.com/shop/tokyo-top-kit

Claire Ritchie is an artist, a mother of two and the creator and owner of her self titled business. Her business consists of the artwork she creates, which is hand drawn, unique and bright illustrations. She produces a ‘collection’ of different products in her particular print designs. For example, one of her collections is the ‘Kit Print’. This print consists of random arch and cloud shapes in bright colours. She then creates tops, clutches, totes in this print. 

I first became aware of Claire one Saturday morning. I had made a thirty minute journey to Heide Museum of Modern Art in Heidelberg, to visit the Heide Makers’ Market. I had made the trip there to see an array of local artists who produce incredible products. One of those artists was Claire. Her stall stood out amongst the market because of her colourful and vibrant art. When I visited her stall, she was kind and down to earth. I ended up purchasing her ‘Just Be You’ print that was accompanied by a personal hand written note from Claire, thanking me for the purchase. Claire’s products vary in pricing depending on what you are purchasing. Her prints usually sell for around $49, pouches/clutches range from $35 to $59 and tops around $139. Her pieces are available from her ‘SHOP’ section on her website (http://www.helloclaireritchie.com/shop/). As well as this you can keep up to date with markets that she visits, such as the ‘Heide Makers’ Market’ and the ‘Makers Shakers Market’.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bfe0N0xHqY7/?taken-by=claire__ritchie

Claire began her art career studying Clothing Production, which was done through an apprenticeship program, “I worked at a small manufacturing company in West Perth. This was completed through Polytechnic West in Bentley [Perth].” She then went on to study Fashion and Textile Design at The Central Institute of Technology, which is also in Perth. “I really enjoyed the type of study I did. It was very hands on and a lot of on the job training which gives you a realistic idea of what your job could potentially be like after study.”

I was interested to see whether or not she felt like all her studying helped her get to where she is now, especially being in my last year of study, it’s daunting to know whether it will all be worth it. “I felt that the type of study I did prepared me to start a business. I don’t think I would have had the confidence to start without having studied.”

Claire said she always wanted to do her own thing but she didn’t know that meant starting her own business. ,“It’s just what evolved from being determined to create something of my own making.” Through her business, Claire has had the opportunities to work with numerous other brands and companies, collaborating with The Slowdown Studio, Barrow Boys and Melbourne Moonshine.

Claire says that most of her designs are not deliberately planned. “I don’t ever try to have something in mind when I am creating a print. I start drawing and let the print just kinda happen. My drawing process is very emotionally driven, so there is a strong connection to how I’m feeling on that day to how something will turn out.” When it comes to designing her physical products however, she tries to keep a particular formula in her mind, “I am all about designing pieces that are practical, so my process often starts with that in mind. It also has to be comfortable and a simple design that can showcase a print really well.”

With fast fashion being a very current issue facing small business owners, Claire stands by her principles of sustainable and ethical fashion by stating on her website, “[I] challenge consumers to shop more carefully, to buy high quality items and treat them well, to slow down the fast fashion movement.” However she reassures me that she does face certain troubles when being an business owner, “I probably try to do too much myself. When you are growing a small business you often wear many hats. It is hard to know sometimes when to start outsourcing and focus on your strengths within the business.” As prevously stated, Claire creates her own prints and hand sews each of her products. She then outsources her printing, having them digitally printed through local company, Next State.

Image by Tess Gellie

When I asked what advice she would give to current art students, Claire said to focus on experience, “Get on the job experience as soon as you can. Tie this into your study if you can. Don’t pigeonhole yourself. Be open to being great at lots of different things within the creative realm. You may find that moving between mediums or projects can be a really healthy way to keep your designs fresh.” Would she do anything different if she could go back to when she was a student? “No. I’m exactly where I need to be right now and anything I think I should have done is still absolutely possible.”

You can view Claire’s beautiful designs and products at –

Website: http://www.helloclaireritchie.com/

Instagram: @claire_ritchie

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