Floral Artist Claire Fagin is 'Watching It Grow'
As a thank you for supporting the Artist Uprising podcast for the past two seasons, we are thrilled to release a bonus episode featuring large-scale floral artist, Claire Fagin. Claire joins your host, Cabus, remotely from her home in Los Angeles to discuss her creative journey and her exciting collaborations with Beyoncé and Kehlani.
photo provided by artist
Cabus kicks off the episode by asking Claire where she's from and how she got to California. Claire shares that she grew up in Dallas, went to Pepperdine University in Malibu, and has remained in Los Angeles doing "art stuff" since graduating in 2018. Claire explains that she originally majored in Education but realized about a week into her classes that it wasn't for her. She then switched her major to Film and picked up a minor in Art along the way.
When asked if she has always had an interest in floral design, Claire says that while she's always had multiple creative interests, her love for florals didn't kick in until after college. She was home schooled in her elementary school years, which gave her a lot of free time to develop creative hobbies such as knitting, sewing, and painting. And, in high school, she discovered her love for photography and film.
After graduating from college, Claire freelanced in photography and worked for an installation artist. This artist introduced her to her first floral design job, which sparked her passion for photographing and working with flowers.
"[Shooting florals] was one of the only things I didn't feel like I had to chase when it came to my career and art."
photo provided by artist
From there, Claire began going to flower markets in her free time and creating floral arrangements to photograph for fun. She started posting her floral photography on Instagram during the pandemic and began receiving recognition and job offers. Florals soon became her primary creative medium.
When asked about her first floral design project, Claire shares that she was hired to create a floral arch for a photo op installation at a baby shower. From there, she continued to hone her craft at other events until her roommate, who is a music video producer, connected her with floral designing for music videos. Claire says these have been her favorite jobs to date because they're the most fun, the most colorful, and the most imaginative.
Claire's first on-set job as the lead floral designer was for a Pink Sweat$ music video, At My Worst, featuring Kehlani. The video memorably showcases retro-style cars bursting with dozens and dozens of brightly colored flowers. Claire says this job expanded other people's understanding of what she is capable of doing with flowers and propelled her into doing more avant-garde floral projects.
When asked about the behind the scenes of working on music video shoots, Claire shares that most of the time she works with the creative teams, not the music artists. She recently did the floral design for a not-yet-released music video for Beyoncé's latest album, Renaissance. The Art Director texted Beyoncé a picture of Claire's floral design, and Beyoncé loved it. Though Claire never communicated directly with Beyoncé during the process, she got to be on set with her during the shoot, which she says was a surreal feeling.
And, yet, even with all of this success, Claire candidly describes a duality to how she feels during her career high moments. While she has confidence in herself and in her gift, she also struggles with the imposter syndrome that tells her there are tons of other floral artists out there who could do what she's doing and better.
"There is a belief that is required in yourself and in the fact that you have something to share that's worth sharing."
photo provided by artist
Like many artists, Claire always used to think that when she landed a job like the Beyoncé music video, she would feel a sense of "this is it." And, while she does feel that way, to an extent, the grind of a 14-hour day followed by a 16-hour day on set helped her realize there is something else inside of her that wants to shift away from the hustle of the music industry.
Pointing to the many green plants behind her, Claire says she wants to get more into the process of growing flowers. She has a green thumb, and she loves to garden. Her respect for plants and the growing process makes her feel uneasy about the fact that thousands of dollars of flowers are thrown away after the music videos and events she works on. She says it feels like a gross waste of something that is so beautiful.
Claire hopes to have more space to garden in the future and actually grow the things she uses for her art. She shares that when you are a part of the growth process, it gives you another level of respect for what you are growing. Claire would love to have some land for a full flower farm one day, but, for now, she takes full advantage of her small floral bed and community gardening spaces in Los Angeles. In the meantime, she says there's so much more to learn about gardening.
In between jobs, Claire likes to keep herself busy for the sake of her mental health. She prefers to feel productive, so she makes sure to keep lots of creative projects going around her, like her house plants, gardening, knitting, and painting.
When asked what advice she would give to someone who wants to pursue freelance work in a creative field, Claire says that her number one piece of advice is to not let down your boundaries around your self-respect, your time, your art, or your energy. She suggests only working with people who are in line with your boundaries and who respect you and your art. And, to make sure that whatever compensation you are receiving, money or otherwise, feels good to you. "If it feels wrong, don't try to force it to be right."
"When you're an artist, you have to respect the ways in which you make money, but you also have to respect your art outside of that money. It's really important to keep yourself creatively stimulated even if it's not for 'work'."