Claire Oring

Tell us about yourself.
I’m a fine artist and photographer from LA.  My personal work is always conceptual, experimental, and quite often analog. I have a BFA from Otis College of Art and Design in LA, where I majored in 3D animation. Since graduating two years ago, I’ve been working as a fine artist in the world of fashion photography and design. This year I also collaborated with Billabong on Claire Oring X Billabong, which included apparel with my photos and illustrations on them. They let me shoot the look book for the collection so I had a lot of creative control over the outcome, which was rad.

What is beauty to you and how do you define beauty?
Anything that dares me to pay closer attention to its details and captures my imagination. Regardless of it being gruesome or lovely, if I find it intriguing I will probably find it beautiful in it’s own way. I’ve always been as taken with the beauty in dark subject matters as I have with light.

What’s the story behind your first camera?
My parents gave me a 35mm Canon Rebel 2000 in 6th grade because I won 1st place in a photo competition for the state of California. I still use it sometimes.

Were you always artistic as a child? What was the defining moment when you decided to pursue art occupationally?
Very much so. When I was three I drew a mural on my bedroom wall with crayons in the middle of the night. My parents kept it up for a year. I always said I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. Creativity has always been a challenge I welcome. I love the improvisational aspect of it, being present in the moment of creation regardless of the outcome.  I’ve always had other interests as far as academics are concerned, but working in the arts was always my goal. I didn’t bank on a career in fashion photography or design but it most certainly turns me on. Regardless of my profession I’m sure my desire to create will endure ‘til I’m grey haired and wrinkly. Creation is a natural high and I’m addicted.

Digital or film? Why?
I devoted my heart to analog film long ago. I like the idea of creating something physical instead of a file that will live it’s entire life in a hard drive. I love picking the right camera and film combination to set the exact mood I want for a particular concept. After all the planning that goes into a shoot I love to hold the end product in my hand with the aroma of photo chemicals in the air.

Tell us about I Imagine Yes. Why is it monochromatic and how did this project come about?
I collaborated on this project with my friend and fellow fine arts photographer Amanda Charchian. The series uses photography as a means of communicating between the spiritual/invisible world and the material/temporal world. By using the quote, “I Imaging Yes Is The Only Living Thing” by E.E. Cummings, we explored the passage between these realms in the tradition of late 19th century spirit photography. We were especially interested in the depiction of ectoplasm. There is a photograph for each word of the sentence that is meant to use the macabre to transcend beyond physical reality. Each image functions as an imprint of a disembodied soul. We wanted to create something new that shared the mood of those old photos so we shot black and white film and added hints of cool color where we felt they belonged.

Death Valley Girls is very special. Where was this shot, who are the girls, and what was importance of this series to you?
This shoot was the result of a road trip with my sister and two of my best girlfriends to Death Valley. We wanted an excuse to have an adventure so I created the concept and pitched it to them. Creating the characters came easily. We all grew up in LA and had our own stereotype of valley girls, but when putting “Death” before it they immediately turned into these tortured souls cutting class to smoke cigarettes on sand dunes. My Death Valley Girls were passive aggressive and territorial. They would befriend you and then stab you in the back because you’re so, like, immature. We were in character all week.

Explain your interpretation of Shakespeare’s Ophelia.
She’s in the broken hearts club and is as tragic and beautiful as ever. My friend Chloe Bridges took on the role perfectly in Malibu Canyon Creek.

Your art is sold by Urban Outfitters as wall art. How did this partnership come about and what is it about UO that you believe is aligned with your aesthetic?
A few weeks after graduating from Otis I found an email in my spam folder from Urban’s blog asking me to be in an ‘about a girl’ feature. From there I did a travel diary through Israel and The Czech Republic on the blog. I also teamed up with Urban and The Impossible Project on an art show in NYC featuring Impossible Polaroid Film. Soon after the buyers for home goods contacted me about licensing prints. I think Urban appreciates artists with experimental modes of creating. All the photos they’ve licensed from me are photos with concepts I was unsure would work at all. They’re also all originally created using analog film and Urban sells a lot of analog film and cameras in store so they must be a fan of the style as well.

I think Urban appreciates artists with experimental modes of creating. All the photos they’ve licensed from me are photos with concepts I was unsure would work at all. They’re also all originally created using analog film and Urban sells a lot of analog film and cameras in store, so they must be a fan of the style as well.

You worked on the Jeffrey Campbell 2012 campaign, JC Play – Fresh to Death. Tell us about this shoot and project.
I flew out to NYC with a game plan of the shoot in mind. I arrived the morning of and the team told me they had changed their minds about the concept. The new plan was to shoot about 6 locations in the next 4 hours, all of which I had never seen or been to, all of which we would be walking to. It seemed like a lot in that amount of time but we got to work and I ended up loving the photos. It was totally different than anything I’d shot before and I had so much fun with the crew.

What about your work with BCBG? How was it shooting on the beach?
This shoot was particularly nice because we were shooting in Manhattan Beach where I grew up. Again, I lucked out and had a team of 8 of the coolest girls on set with me that day. I love days when work feels like play.

Describe your perfect Saturday.
Brunch outdoors, a photo shoot with girlfriends that’s actually just an excuse to just play dress up, a couple episodes of Park and Recreation, a house party and cuddling.

What songs are on your personal playlist?
Between the Bars / Elliott Smith
Age / Lianne La Havas
Devil’s Gonna Get You / Bessie Smith
God Only Knows / The Beach Boys
You Really Got Me / The Kinks
Winter Lady / Leonard Cohen
The Calendar Hung Itself / Bright Eyes
Coffee / Yuna
Dy’er Mak’er / Led Zeppelin
Tough Lover / Etta James
Dark Doo Wop / MS MR
Rill Rill / Sleigh Bells
Magic / Girls
Glory and Gore / Lorde
Boys and Girls / Alabama Shakes
Nature Feels / Frank Ocean
Summer Day / Coconut Records
Sleeping Lessons / The Shins
Perth / Bon Iver
Mi Negrita / Devendra Banhart
Glory Box / Portishead
You Know What I Mean / Cults
A Certain Romance / Arctic Monkeys
Norwegian Wood / The Beatles

What are three things most people don’t know about you?
1. I’m left handed.
2. I’d love to be a professor one day.
3. \When I was 17 I got really into street art and I made tons of stencils that I tagged around town at night by myself. I didn’t have a look out so it was short lived.

For more of Claire’s work, check out her website.

  • Guest

    Wooo! Love Claire Oring!

    • The Raw Book

      We love her too!