So, tell us a little about you.
I’m Claire Austen, one of the new creative hosts at M.Y.O. I’m half Irish, half American but was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland. I moved over to London in 2019 and now live in Peckham. I’m absolutely loving it here!
What’s your story? Tell us a little about your background and what you do.
Music and art have always played a massive role in my life!
I was torn between which one to study at university and went with music in the end. After training to be a classical violinist and working as a music teacher, I moved to London to study Performance Science as I am really interested in the psychology behind music, creativity and performing.
I always have different creative projects on the go and love seeing where they take me. In 2020, I began making handmade jewellery which blossomed into a little online business. Now, I am studying for a Masters in Psychology as I hope to have a career combining the arts and wellbeing.
What creative or artwork inspired you the most growing up?
So much so that I painted his artwork all over my bedroom walls. I’m sure my parents were chuffed about that…
What artist are most inspires you now?
I also lived in Vienna for a few months and was very inspired by Gustav Klimt’s paintings and his use of colour, texture and shapes.
What do you create mostly for work and what do you create mostly for fun?
For fun, I love making gifts for family and friends. I also enjoy putting on music and getting creative (and often quite messy...), whether that’s scribbling all over my bedroom walls or getting out some watercolours/alcohol inks and paint whatever comes to mind!
I used to not have the confidence to paint from my imagination but now I find it really mindful and relaxing.
What piece of work are you most proud of? Why?
I think I am most proud of the sea glass jewellery collection I made in 2020 because my family and I found the sea glass on beaches around Ireland over the years.
This meant they were particularly special to me but also made for some really unique and environmentally friendly jewellery! They sold out so fast that I had my boyfriend and his family scouring beaches for sea glass on a family holiday so that I could make some more!
Do you think people are just born creative or is it something everyone has, but many don’t explore?
I definitely think everyone has creativity in them and there are many different ways that people can be creative. People may feel that they are not a ‘creative person’ because they maybe haven’t had as many opportunities to explore their creative side, especially as adults. I really agree with M.Y.O’s standpoint that creativity is like a muscle and the more you flex it the more creative you become in all walks of life.
What’s your favourite colour? Why?
I love a light bluey-greeny-teal... kind of colour. I don’t know why I like it so much, I think it’s calming but also just looks great with and on everything. I became a bit too obsessed with it and now have to actively resist buying and creating things in that shade!
What’s your favourite album to listen to whilst you create and why?
I think it totally depends on my mood and what I’m creating.
If you were stuck on a desert island and had to bring 3 items with you to create with, what would you bring!?
I think I would bring jewellery-wire, glue and a pliers. I’d then wander around the beach looking for sea glass and other cool objects to make jewellery out of... pretty much what I do already!
If you could give advice to yourself growing up, with the benefit of hindsight, what would it be?
Do something because you really want to do it, not because it’s what other people think you should do. Also, stop worrying about things not being ‘perfect’. As firstly, they never will be completely perfect, and secondly, they are better when they aren’t (or so I now tell myself)! Oh and stop bleaching your hair yourself, it has never gone well...
What / who made you decide to become a professional creative, rather than doing it as a hobby?
I always wanted to have a creative career. When I was a kid, I wanted to be an architect like my dad and would spend hours drawing some very questionable floorplans. Being a musician also meant I was always surrounded by creative professionals.
I’m over the moon that I now get to work for a company where creativity is at the heart of what we do and it’s such a pleasure to help others get enjoyment out of being creative too!
What makes you most happy?
Hmm I would say the buzz I feel after going for a swim in the FREEZING cold sea in Ireland, spending time with friends and family, oh and beating my boyfriend at mariokart!!!
What’s next for you? What you would like to be doing in 12 months?
I’m really looking forward to finishing my psychology Masters next spring and finding fun ways to combine what I’ve learnt with my creative experiences.
I also hope to be teaching lots of really fun workshops at MYO!
Is there anything exciting coming up that you would like to let people know about?
Where can people find out more about what you are up to?