In this 25th edition of Spotlight I’d like to introduce you to the talented Claudia Six, a multidisciplinary artist living and working in Vienna, Austria. Growing up in rural Austria, surrounded by forests and mountains, Claudia discovered a deep-rooted love for everything strange. Whilst in art school she discovered she had all kinds of wonderful creatures and stories living in her head, and decided to do get these out and share them with the world. Claudia was excited to share some secrets about these stories with us, enjoy!
Bleaq: Hi! Could you introduce yourself and your work shortly?
Claudia: Hi! I am a Vienna based character artist. I think character artist is the shortest way to describe what I am doing, I also like to say that I am a creator of fantastic worlds and creatures, kind of an escape artist. I make puppets, soft sculptures, objects, illustrations, little films, everything based on strange creatures, living in dark, eerie worlds. I also love working interactively, bringing the magic to the people through installations, performances and public interactions.
If you had to tell somebody about your work and are only allowed to show one piece or series what would you show and why?
I would chose a picture from an old series called Lost and found because I think that it shows best how I bring my creatures into the real world. I love the reactions of people who are suddenly face to face with something so different from their notion of “normal”.
One of the work from ‘Lost and found’
You studied screen printing and textile design in art school. How much does your education influence your work? And was it hard to combine a traditional art education with your more edgy style?
Funny thing is that the textile influence took a while to kick in. I graduated a long time ago and I don’t think that I’ve been a very good student. I was super lazy and not really motivated but somehow I took a lot with me and I love working with fabrics now. I love dying them, printing, morphing textile materials into something new. I almost never buy fancy materials, I make them myself.
I think my teachers back then were the people showing me that being edgy is good and important. I am still in contact with them and they are coming to my exhibitions and performances. I think they are both proud and a little surprised.
To create your fantastic worlds you don’t depend on one technique. Do you have a technique you prefer? And what’s there first: the concept or idea of a piece or the medium?
I think now is the time to admit that I might still be a little lazy and am often looking for an easy way to create the feeling I want to achieve. But everything starts in my head. The moment I’m sitting down in my studio, actually starting to create the world is almost the last step. I spend a big amount of time just thinking and writing and also thinking about how things can be done. I built many puppets for theatre, this is where I learned that you save a lot of time when you already know what you’ll be doing. I love basic materials like paper, plane fabrics and stuff I find in nature. I just can’t be bothered with materials that need a lot of skills for using them. Maybe it’s laziness but maybe it’s just being productive and I have the feeling that it’s holding me back if I have to learn too much about tools before I can start using them.
Many of your pieces are showing your creatures called ‘TheVolk’, inspired by the Icelandic folktales of the Huldufólk. Can you tell a bit more about these tales and your fascination for Scandinavian folklore?
I am a huge fan of Scandinavian countries and folklore stories. I love everything about it. Or at least I love what I think I know because I’ve never been close to those places! But I grew up with a father who was watching a lot of fantasy movies and most of them were located somewhere North or at least they were based on old stories from there. Like the old Jim Henson Movies for example. For my 13th birthday I got a book from my parents that was called Fairies, a collection of old folklore tails, illustrated by Brian Froud. It is still one of my favorite books! And I always wished that there really is another word hidden somewhere, one that is just waiting to be discovered. In Iceland for example they have a ministry that is responsible for taking care of the hidden people; they plan streets and buildings so that they won’t be disturbed. So I love the thought that this is real, and that this is what I am creating. A magical world so close to ours that you can escape anytime you want to.
Some of TheVolk’s creatures
If you could choose one artist for a collaboration (dead or alive) who would it be and why?
Spike Jonze! I think he is a genius director, his ideas are so weird but he has such a good feeling for people and stories, everything is so surreal. I think my style and world and his way of storytelling could be a really interesting combination.
What’s the best museum or gallery exhibition you ever been to, and why did you pick this one?
Definitely Metamorphosis – Fantasy Visions in Starewitch, Švankmajer and the Quay Brothers! I’ve seen this exhibition in Barcelona and I even went there twice. It’s starring all my favorite stop-motion artists. There has been a time when I desperately wanted to quit school and go to Prague to study stop-motion. The exhibition was so nicely curated with a lot of original set designs. It was a huge inspiration. And I think I might never experience an exhibition like this again, it was like stepping into another world, I spent hours exploring there.
With social communities like Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest around it’s almost impossible to not have an internet presence. How important is the internet for you as an artist?
For me the internet is extreeeeemly important. I’d be super lost doing what I do here in Austria without the internet. The community here is really small and galleries mostly focus on contemporary paintings. When I started doing what I do I felt like the odd one out but then I discovered that around the world there are a lot of likeminded people and it felt like a revelation to me. I attended the Pictoplasma Academy which is an Academy for contemporary Character Design (Yes, there is a thing like that. How cool is that? And I found i through the internet!) and I really found some sort of a new artist family there. Without the internet I wouldn’t know about your blog, which I love or all the other artists creating their eerie wonderful worlds. So, it’s crucial for me to connect through social media.
Last but not least: can you recommend a book, movie or artist you’ve enjoyed lately?
That’s a tough one because I watch so many tv shows and movies, and listen to endless audio books while working. It’s hard to choose just one to recommend! But I decided to go with Ex Machina from Alex Garland. I was so fascinated by the idea of an A.I., I have always been. I cried my way through A.I. from Steven Spielberg too but Ex Machina is more focused on the question how can something artificial have life in it. The Ghost in the machine somehow. In a way this is what puppets are too. Inanimate objects coming to life through us and our imagination. Or is there some kind of spirit inside them already, thriving through the act of creation?
That’s all for today, thanks for reading! A warm thanks goes out to Claudia for taking time to answer my questions and share these lovely insights on her work with us. If you like to see more of Claudia’s work and stay updated on her new projects make sure to check her website and Instagram. Have a great weekend!