Creative Space: Claire Cimbora

FK talks to creative lady Claire Cimbora from Schmooks about her Canberra based Creative Space. All photos featured in this post are by Canberra based photographer Jono Winnel.

Tell us a little about your label Schmooks and what kind of things you create in your own space?
Schmooks is collection of colourful and vibrant childhood inspired artworks. A whimsical world of fanciful characters, far off lands and enchanting adventure. I first opened Schmooks online in Jan 2009 after I accidentally stumbled upon Etsy and was immediately seduced by its charm. We sell a number of signed archival prints, greeting cards and a range of jewellery. We have recently teamed up with two other companies to produce a collection of stationary, a colouring book and wallstickers which you can find in retail stores. Apart from outsourcing the greeting cards, I create all things Schmooks in my studio. Its a lovely relaxing place to work and has lots of room for designing Schmooks jewellery, which is all done by hand.

What is your work space like and what things do you like to surround you when you work?
Lots of light, high white walls with framed pieces from my favourite artists. Its always a bit of an organised mess. I have shelving, boxes and cupboards for storage however things like to creep out of them and sometimes create a bit of chaos. I have a lovely large desk space which is perfect for packing orders. I usually listen to music and there are books, art magazines and a lovely vintage doll house for the kids to play with.

What is your creative process?
I usually start with the theme of adventure. I think ‘where could they go today’? I’ll draw a rough sketch and start designing on my computer mainly in Photoshop and also Illustrator. I create many variations of the one artwork, (all just slightly different) until I am happy. I like to let the illustration sit for a couple of days and then re-visit it with fresh eyes. I love looking back and seeing the progression of the work, especially as the first piece is unrefined and quite different from the end result. I then write a little story or poem to accompany the work. I hope this gives the viewer a deeper connection to the characters and illustration in general.

What keeps you motivated and inspired when you’re working?
For me, sitting down and reading to my children is a great source of inspiration. I think we forget about how we once saw the world, this is definitely rekindled when I read a picture book. I start to remember all the magic of childhood and my adventures as a child. Its a great way to ignite ideas and capture the imagination.

Where do you go for inspiration for your home & work space? eg. books, blogs, websites etc.
Favourite inspiring kids books: 
Rhymes for Annie Rose, Peter Rabbit, Where the Wild Things Are and A.A Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh.
Facebook pages and websites of:
Amy Sol, Audrey Kawasaki, LilliPiri, Frankie Magazine, Mark Ryden, Charmaine Olivia, Lucong, Jen Mann, Chrissy Lau, Kareena Zerefos, Lauren Carney, Eating Ghosts, Art and Ghosts the list goes on and on!

What is a typical day for you involve when you are working on Schmooks?
Drop the kids off to Grandmas and buy a hot yummo coffee on the way. When I get back I spend a short time cruising a few blogs that I love, then I write a list (otherwise I never achieve anything). Emails, printing, packing and postoffice take a large chunk of the day. Once all customer and retail orders are out of the way I usually get started on the creative stuff. I work late into the night with plenty of coffee and chocolate to keep me going.

How do you balance being creative with your home life?
Its a battle, balancing everything is a hard one. Before I had kids I always said that I would stay at home and look after my children (as my mum did the same for my brothers and I). So being able to illustrate and work from home is exactly where I want to be. I love illustrating and I feel very lucky to have such an accessible creative outlet.
However, with young children getting work done and packages out the door certainly does have its challenges. As all mums would agree, being a parent is a very tiring job and there is little time for yourself. Add in a career and it adds another layer of stress and chaos to the equation. Illustrating for me is relaxing, so working on an illustration is also a way of unwinding.

What things would you love to add to your creative working environment?
More organisation, a bit more room and a cleaning fairy.

All the wonderful photos featured in this post are exclusively shot for the Finders Keepers by Creative Space project photographer Jono Winnel.


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