At home with… Claire Milbrath

Freya Gnaedig
Jill Schweber

Claire Milbrath is multi-faceted Canadian creative who has worked and been mentored alongside Petra Collin’s art collective. Artist and Editor-in-Chief of her own magazine Editorial Magazine, she has transformed the art scene in Montreal giving creatives a platform to be seen. Claire is always finding new ways to create: sewing, painting, being an entrepreneur – here is a glimpse into her colorful dream like universe.

FG: Tell us, how did you get into the art scene?
CM: I joined Petra Collins’ art collective, the Ardorous, which was a roster of female artists. Petra co-curated a show with Tavi Genison in Los Angeles, it was my first time exhibiting my work anywhere. I’m indebted to that early support, as it’s hard to break into the art world when you’re outside the art-school circuit. 
FG: What is your artistic process like? How do you prefer to work?
CM: I make lose felt pen drawings on paper which act like a map for my canvas. Then I drink a cup of coffee and turn music on really loud and paint for a block of time. On a perfect day I can complete a painting in a single session, by strategically painting around the wet-areas. I’ve always worked at home, one day I will have a studio I think. 
FG: What materials do you use?
CM: I use oil paints, usually straight from the tube pre-mixed colours. It’s toxic and takes weeks to dry, but I’ve never used anything else. This past year I’ve started sewing my own stuffed animals, which have been until now, a two dimensional component of my paintings. I don’t use patterns so it’s challenging to plan out how to make a pig, a horse or a teddy bear. 
FG: What is the Canadian art scene like? How did you find your niche?
CM: With globalization and the internet, I think the Canadian art scene gets absorbed. I’ve shown more in the States than here. My art community is very much online, artists I’ve worked with for years via Editorial Magazine, who I feel comfortable asking for advice or skill-sharing.
FG: How did you get started with Editorial magazine?
CM: I was living in a building in Montreal that was full of artists and musicians, and I felt there wasn’t a platform for us to show our work. So Editorial started for that, a venue for emerging artist friends to show their work.
FG: How does your personality influence your work?
CM: My paintings are autobiographical, my character “Gray” as well as my bichons, are extensions of myself. Through painting, I’ve built an understanding of my personality, what scares me, what gives me joy. It’s a great tool. Because of that, my work feels too intimate sometimes.
FG: What are you reading right now?
CM: I’m reading Tamara Faith Berger, a Canadian author who writes mostly erotica. I’m working with her on a new project for Editorial, so I’ve taken a deep dive into her books. It’s impossible to read her books without getting horny.
FG: Who has been your main inspirations and influences?
CM: The Naive Artists, I think. My sister gifted me a book about their work, Maude Lewis, Henri Rousseau, and I felt an affinity to them, in style and humor, and sincerity.
FG: Do you have any hidden talents?
CM: Tap dancing.

Click to see Claire’s playlist