Claire Cottrell, Photographer & Creator, The Book Stand
An artist in style, in personality, in movement, Claire Cottrell embodies what it means to be a creator and celebrator of all women. With Los Angeles as a home base, Claire displays her visionary spirit through her film and photography. As the creator of Book Stand, a small online bookstore, she also provides a place for artists of all kinds to connect through conversation and literature. If you thought you had to choose just one thing to do in life – think again. Read on for Claire’s interview, where she tells us about how she got where she is today and where she finds her inspiration to keep creating.
Can you describe your creative path and what brings you to where you are today?
Hard work, long hours, and constantly asking myself the question: “what am I contributing and does it matter?”
What came first for you, directing or photography? How do they play off one another in your work?
Filmmaking came first, but I’ve been taking photos since I was a little girl. My work usually starts as a photograph and then evolves. Lately, I’ve been making still images from moving images. Short answer: I blur the lines between the two.
Can you tell us how living and working in LA affects your work?
It’s the world around me. It’s the colors, the people – it’s a state of mind. It affects my point of view.
Does intuition play a role in your creative process?
Absolutely. I act on feeling. If something or someone moves me, that’s the answer. It’s how I make decisions.
How do you find inspiration and organize it? Does it come in waves or a slower movement?
I probably watch 10 films a week, and I do a lot of walking. I take tons of snapshots and I organize them by place. I go back to them to reference a look, street, face, or action.
When you’re feeling creatively blocked, how do you find a turnaround?
I go for a walk. Early in the morning, or at night. I’ve been spending more time in the city at night. Walking the streets of Downtown. The energy is not something I’m used to being around in Los Angeles, and I like it.
Apart from photography and directing, you’ve founded an online book store- Book Stand. Can you describe how this came about and your mission for the web space?
I call it a book project. The web space is largely an archive of conversations with artists, along with a small set of books for sale.
Since you work independently, do you find it difficult to ever “shut off” work?
I don’t actually and that’s a new thing. I just step back. No email, no phone. I’ve found it to be that easy - as easy as those things are.
What is your relationship with fashion? Do you have a daily uniform?
I adore fashion but my day-to-day is basic. A t-shirt, jeans, leather slippers, and a simple gold chain necklace.
Can you describe your ideal day?
I’m in Paris. I go to the bakery first thing in the morning and then spend my day walking around the city. I have an early dinner and I wear a dress to see the ballet.
Do you have a specific morning routine?
I wake up early. I boil water for tea. I make toast. I read. I listen to music. I take my dog Truffle on a walk.
When do you feel most connected to yourself?
When I’m traveling. The autonomy and independence drowns out the noise of life.
Aside from your creative work, how do you like to spend your time?
What have you been recently listening to?
Chet, Chet Baker; Jacques Brel
Can you tell us about a recent trip you last took that left you feeling inspired?
A road trip from Paris to the Costa Brava in Spain. Here’s an excerpt from something that I wrote about it for a book that 0fr. is publishing this year:
I see time stop as we watch the old men of the village sing habaneras under the full moon. You see life and time in a new light. André Breton visited this wild coast. His words echo on the shore: “Life’s greatest gift is the freedom it leaves you to step out of it whenever you choose.”
Do you have any advice for others on looking to take the leap into working independently?
Get as much experience as you can in a structured environment. Meaning, work for a company first and learn as much as you can about running a business. Apply that knowledge to your independent work. Treat it like a small business. Be organized, accountable and define the fine print up front.