We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Claudia Hafner. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Claudia below.
Claudia, appreciate you joining us today. Did you always know you wanted to pursue a creative or artistic career? When did you first know?
I come from a family of creators so I suppose it is in my DNA. And what I also remember is that the desire to earn money, albeit, a living doing ones art or craft was an ongoing discussion around the holiday dining table gathering. There seemed to be doubt that one could do it without a “patron”, and my dad would kid that what was needed was a patron. While I have never wanted a patron, I have wanted to make decent income from my art or craft.
In elementary school, my first artistic endeavor was teaching myself to draw the Beatles from fan magazines and then selling them. After college, I became a hand weaver and opened a gallery/shop with a leather worker, selling woven and leather goods. Later I supplied fabric to a local clothing designer. Putting colors and textures together really excited me and it was during this time, when I was weaving a tapestry, that I thought about someday painting with watercolor (my mother’s medium). Not until after about 15 years working in the corporate world and then getting laid off in the tech crash in 2001, did I seek out watercolor. I painted for 10 years with in an independent study group of women, meeting almost every week during that time period.
A move to South Florida changed my focus to painting more regularly with selling it in mind. After all, I had been an entrepreneur several times before! A commitment to selling is a commitment to painting with goals in mind.
My desire to sell my art led me to the outdoor festivals in South Florida. I had done festivals when I was a weaver, and reaching way back, my dad and aunt sold their art in the Greenwich Village Art shows. Outdoor shows is in my blood, a rarity, I know. South Florida provides a long selling season of at least 5 -7 months. I try to participate in one major juried outdoor show per month during season.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your back background and context?
Currently, I primarily paint animals. My tag line is “Portraits of Life” which was meant not to categorize me in certain subjects matter. However, the animal world took over and I enjoy it. Watching peoples’ response to my work is very satisfying.
My approach to subjects is as portraiture, whether people, wildlife, flowers or architecture. I recreate the character of the subject through color and a careful, but loose style which combines a propensity for detail with the desire for freedom and motion. My drawing during grade school years taught me to be precise, especially when recreating a portrait of a person. However, I got to a point where I had to burst out of that mold as being precise was not all I wanted to express. Many years went by before I came back to ‘portraits,’ and watercolor set me up to have a loose hand.
My love of nature inspires much of my work. Collectors and followers enjoy my birds, sea turtles, farm animals, wildlife and flowers. Living in South Florida influences, but does not limit, my choice of subject.
While I have always had a website and do some exhibitions, my main selling takes place at juried outdoor art shows. Almost from the get go, I have had my paintings applied to merchandise and prints which I was able sell as well. I believe that everyone should have a shot at owning an image they are drawn to. While it comes naturally to me to provide merchandise,
it isn’t always allowed in fine art festivals. I think the buying public appreciates merchandise being available, especially if they don’t have wall space and some other items may fit the bill. Kids get a kick out of purchasing prints as well, and are especially drawn to animals.
Most of my paintings are small to medium size but I am proud to have a premium product of large-format prints mounted behind 1/4″ acrylic. There is image preparation required to be able to print on a large scale and I have some expertise in doing this myself. The quality of these reproductions, as well as the hanging mechanism are all suburb. They can fill a wall and are quite unique.
I am currently formulating online sales and expanding the offerings on my website with ease and availability as a main feature. I also have a solo show at the Palm Beach Gardens Tennis & Pickleball Clubhouse gallery space where the largest collection of my large-format pieces will be on view, as well as original paintings. The show runs through August 23.
Are there any resources you wish you knew about earlier in your creative journey?
While I believe we get what we need when we are ready for it, I do wish I had a working social media presence to provide income from my art all year round. I have a love/hate relationship with the idea of having to do social media. Recently, however, I was made aware of an artists platform, ArtStorefronts, that will provide my website the functionality to do integrated sales with my originals as well as prints fulfilled by vendors. The marketing information available with this platform also creates an environment for consistency in building followers and collectors. A website without visitors has little value. I knew this but was stuck trying to figure out how to sell art, specifically utilizing the tools out there. Now I am ready to start getting that attention in a structured, consistent manner. Sales are a driving factor for me to produce art at this time. Learning what the market cares about in my work, and doing more of that, keeps the work moving.
Is there mission driving your creative journey?
Sales drive my creative journey. I have always tied the two together and truly would like it to provide the income I will need in retirement. I’m not interested in attention to myself, but to my artwork if people resonate with it. In general, there is little watercolor painting in in festivals in comparison to other media. My interest is only in watercolor, and the joy it brings people who love watercolors. Outdoor shows have definitely given me feedback in this regard.