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Claire Scherzinger: Today’s Notable Young Professional

Today’s Notable Young Professional is Toronto-based artist Claire Scherzinger, who was recently announced as a winner of the 17th Annual RBC Painting Competition. We caught up with her to discuss this milestone and what advice she would share with other aspiring artists… 



1. Describe what you do in less than 140 characters. Go.
I work in my studio, producing paintings that challenge our current ideas of what painting is and what it can be.

2. Who has helped you the most in your career? Who has been your biggest inspiration?
There are a lot of people who have helped me along the way, each person in their own way. My biggest inspirations, however, would have to be my old undergraduate advisor, Vlad Spicanovic, and a former teacher and now a friend, Derek Sullivan. Both of these people ask very poignant questions whenever we do studio visits and inspire me to keep making work.

3. What is the most memorable milestone in your career so far?
Being an RBC winner has been pretty memorable! I think it’s a good trajectory for my career.

4. Where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?
In 5 years? I want to be living in Berlin, ideally. From there on I’m pretty open to whatever ends up happening. I would like to be doing exhibitions in large public spaces and institutions, as well as have a large studio. 

5. Do you have any advice for other young artists?
The only thing you can do is keep making – and make good work. When you’re excited about someone else’s work, let them know. Build genuine connections.

6. Do you support any causes? If so, which one(s) and why is it (or they) important to you?
Even with winning one of the RBC purchase prizes, I still don’t have a ton of extra time to donate to other causes. I still work part-time at an arts supply store. However, if I did have the time, I would be working with youth who may not get the opportunity to experience the arts on a day-to-day basis.

7. What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
Being a woman is a challenge that I will always have to overcome. I think things are a lot better than they were many years ago, but there have always been instances where favouritism/sexism occurs. Simply put, I’ve always just had to work harder than my male colleagues – and that is exactly what I do. 

8. What does the word notable mean to you?
Notable means to be someone worth remembering, in my mind. To do this, I think you have to challenge and change perceptions of the way life currently is. And the only way you can get there is by working incredibly hard. This profession can consume you, but I think it is what makes certain artists notable.   

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1. Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
I’m definitely a pub person. The Hogtown at College and Clinton has great beer and a surprisingly good Scotch selection.

2. What’s the most visited website on your Internet browser? The most played song on your phone?
Contemporary Art Daily is something I look at a lot, but I try not to treat it like the Holy Bible of what contemporary art is and can be. The most played song? That’s more difficult… I listen to a lot of rap. Probably “Swimming Pools” by Kendrick Lamar.

3. Who is one artist you wish every Canadian was paying attention to right now?
Sarah Sands Phillips. She makes good work and is a wonderful person to know.

4. What’s your favourite country to visit and why? And what’s the next one you plan on travelling to?
I love visiting New York. I just feel I’m part of something larger than myself when I’m there and I feel connected to everything and everyone. My next big trip will be to Banff, Alberta, but I’m planning a trip to Europe when the Venice Biennale and Documenta are both on.

5. What gives you the greatest FOMO?
I always feel strange when I miss an art-related event. I still work a lot at my day job, so when I’m there it’s just a constant anxiety. Grad school is also a big thing that gives me a fear of missing out. A lot of my friends have a graduate degree and I’m trying to decide if it’s the right thing for me.

6. What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
Pizza/Beer/Battlestar Galactica.

7.  What’s something you wish you didn’t spend so much money on? What’s something you wish you spent more on?
I only really spend my money on art supplies, books, beer and studio rent. I wish rent in Toronto was cheaper, or that there were more artist grants available because I definitely would like to not spend as much money on my studio. I wish I didn’t spend so much money eating out, but sometimes after a long day you don’t have too much energy for anything else.   

8. And finally, what does success look like to you? Work, play, or otherwise…
Success is relative, of course. However, to me, my career has always been at the centrefold of my life. I enjoy sharing my successes with my close friends while also celebrating their success. It sounds a bit cheesy, but I really enjoy sitting at a table, eating good food with my close friends, and toasting each other to the amazing things we’ve been able to do in our respective careers at this point in our lives.


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