Say Hello To The ICON, Mary-Claire

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Hey! Shouldn’t you #save_your_damn_ art? Come on, stop hurting and quit being a lazy pushover!

Wait. We didn’t mean to be harsh or insensitive, but this interview with Mary-Claire just fills you with a rush of boldness to speak up amidst oppression.

Practicing art is not a waste of your time, and if it’s trash? At least, you should be allowed to own your trash with pride and in peace.

Here’s our Exclusive Interview with Mary-Claire

Read now. Your art is counting on you.

Enjoy and Stay Inspired:

Please can we meet Mary-Clarie?

Hi all, 

I’m Mary-Claire but I go by MC. 

I’m a creative copywriter by day & digital designer the rest of the time. I was raised in Holland but live in London, which I would best describe as ‘chaotic but very entertaining,’ :the things you hear outside your window…Luckily I love my apartment.

I started creating (analogue) collages a very long time ago, but I just stopped because life got in the way. COVID gave me the push I needed to start again.

What does Art mean to you?

Being able to express things that I don’t have the words for. Telling the world ‘this is who I am’, without having to write an essay. At the same time art to me is about complete freedom. It’s like watching dancers on stage move, with their eyes closed, it’s like being in a state of trance.

Can you remember the first digital Art you created and what inspired it?

I don’t remember what my first piece was but one of the first I posted was called ‘garden of Eden’, I added a Matshona Dhliwayo quote about seeds fighting their way out of darkness. I guess I was inspired by the idea of fighting your way through something that felt impossible.

Have you ever held back your gifts at some point, perhaps through self doubt? Have you ever felt it ‘boxed’ by someone else or an experience?

Self-doubt creeps in all the time! I was intimidated by Photoshop & Adobe XD for such a long time, that if a friend hadn’t encouraged me and showed me the basics when I first got started, who knows where I’d be now.

In terms of being boxed in by others, it’s the usual thing of people in my life thinking this “artist” side of me was a phase (and as a result not acknowledging what I was doing or offering support in any way) whereas I’ve been creating art since I was really young, it’s always been a part of me. I finally got to the point of embracing who I am fully, which is a storyteller.

It’s damn annoying that artists still get looked at like they’re little kids playing dress up.

What’s a typical day for you like?

If you had asked me that a year ago I would have said: wake up around 7am, either go for a long walk and a quick coffee run or head to a yoga class. After that I’d have breakfast and get to work  (as a freelancer copywriter & editor).

Since I’ve had to focus on regaining my health, there is no typical day. I get up and meditate in bed. I then get ready and have breakfast. 

On a bad day, a big chunk of my day will be spent in bed resting. On a good day I’ll go out for a walk to clear my head, get a decaf latte and do a quick yoga class. I’ll then work on collages for a few hours. I’m starting to invest more time into SAVEYOURDAMNSELF, that means creating a newsletter & working on my Vogue-inspired prints, both will be available soon.

I’m also slowly getting back to work taking on freelance projects again, but I don’t work fulltime.

We see you are a firm believer of the hash tag ‘#ArtSaves,’ do you have any personal experience connected to this?

There’s this quote that I love from writer Suleika Jaouad. She said “make friends with yourself through some kind of creative outlet.”

It sounds like a cliché, but creating art has helped me accept all of myself. I used to spend so much time making sure I didn’t misstep or say something to offend people, but @saveyourdamnart has helped me be bolder and unapologetically so. Does art save me? Yeah from being a watered down version of myself.

What inspired your Instagram name “Save Your Damn Art?”

It’s really SAVEYOURDAMNSELF edited for Instagram. Having ‘art’ at the end makes people immediately know what the account is about.

As for what inspired SAVEYOURDAMNSELF? It’s about advocating for yourself, doing what you need to do to thrive, basically coming into your own fully. For some people that may look like Netflix & a glass of wine, for others (like me) it’s self-care 3.0. It’s long walks, lots of therapy, quitting your job to focus on the things you love and not engaging in drama.To be clear, I’m not saying ‘be strong all day everyday’ – personally I can’t stand the “strong black woman” trope. I’m saying: do what you need to do to be well, you are the hero of your own story, save yourself first.

After the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, I saw an opportunity to change the overwhelmingly-negative stereotypes  about women of colour. I wanted to show the world that #blackgirlmagic is more than a hashtag. And maybe as a result, inspire someone who needs a little dose of self-love.

How was growing up like?

That’s a tough one to answer!

It was a lot of adapting and a lot of newness. I moved to Holland when I was 8 and I remember my sister and I had less than a year to learn Dutch, just to be able to keep up with the curriculum.

Holland has a reputation of being relaxed and chill, but people can also be very anti-change and anti-foreigners. So on the one hand I had really good memories thanks to an amazing group of friends, but also intensely painful ones. Not everyone was happy to have brown people live or work near them.

“Best thing about COVID-19 for me has been slowing everything all the way down. Learning to prioritize things that actually matter, instead of always rushing to achieve some goal or tick something of a list.” This is just one of your many awe-inspiring captions that accompany every of your Instagram posts, please can you share more highlights on the inspiration behind your words here?

When I wrote that post I was just at the beginning of dealing with chronic fatigue (due to having insomnia for years) & the heaviest bout of depression I’ve ever experienced as a result. 

I’ve always been a really active person: I studied dance, I’ve done Vinyasa-Ashtanga yoga for years and generally I walk a lot. But things got to the point where I could barely leave my bed, let alone my flat, so I had to get used to the “new normal”. I had been pushing myself for years, and my body was like “OK, you’ve had enough.”

Just before I hit publish on that post, I got to the point where creating art was becoming another thing to improve/fix, something I felt like I had to get better at, instead of something I loved. I felt like I was trying to prove something to some invisible person. 

I’ve slowed down so much now because I’m still not 100%, but also I prioritize health over everything else, and everyone in my life knows that. 

It’s been a ‘why the hell is this happening’ year but I pretend I’m Rocky Balboa sometimes, trying to stage a comeback.

As an artist, how do you manage to maintain a good mental health and the “balancing act” in general?

Can I phone a friend for that one?

No but really, finding balance is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I’m a high-achiever so I like things to look and be a certain way. If I’m not happy with something I’ve done, my default is to be really hard on myself. It doesn’t help that I’ve been self-employed for years, so slowing down and taking time off used to feel like failure. Now I know and try to do better.

I always hint about mental health & wellbeing on @saveyourdamnart because I really think it’s the foundation for good health period!

What does success mean to you?

Freedom! The freedom to go wherever and whenever I want, that’s why self-employment & entrepreneurship has always been so appealing to me. I also have a 3-bed loft with ocean views on my vision board so!

Let’s go a little poetic: If poetry is a rainbow and you have a choice of one color in that pallette, what would that be and why?

Burnt orange & cobalt blue. Sorry I can’t choose one over the other right now:)

If you could do a collab as a digital artist with any other artist, what Art would that be?

I’m loving a lot of muralists (like Mona Caron) & photographers right now, but I’d love to collaborate with Thandiwe Muriu. She’s a Kenyan photographer who lives for bold patterns. I really admire the way she effortlessly fuses her subjects into backgrounds.

Please briefly tell us something we do not know about Mary-Clarie.

I trust energy and my intuition more than I trust Google Maps. I think it’s because I’m a hippie and spirituality nerd: give me reiki, chakras, yoga all of it. When I was 17 my friends and I did part of the Camino de Santiago walk, it was probably one of the coolest trips I’ve ever taken.

You Are Everything Beautiful Mary-Claire.

From The Entire ICONIC Team,

Massive love!

Thrive on!!

 

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