And this is what happens when Creative Director Lara Ostertag and Claire Bentley-Smith get together…it’s dangerously amazing and very desirable. Claire a.k.a Poshfruit has brought an image from Lara’s Twisted Heritage shoot to life in a whole new way, I’m blown away by the transformation.
Claire Bentley-Smith knows how to maximise time and yet still remains to be extremely skilled, being efficient and effective on this scale is a serious juggle. There is no doubt about it… this lady is highly organised, determined and hungry. A mother, a cat carer, a body painter, production designer, illustrator prop maker, art director, teacher and the list continues… this is a sweet smell of success.
Poshfruit somehow had time to answer a few questions and not half heartedly, she has given 110% percent and it was a real pleasure getting to know this talented young lady. So now ladies and gentlemen I present to you Claire Bentley-Smith a.k.a. Poshfruit…
Food and cooking is a huge pleasure of mine and I’ve been very interested in healthy nutrition for many years. Firstly, as I used be a party girl, I used healthy eating to try to re-dress the balance, in my mind at least but now it is a natural way of life. I love to cook with game as I think it’s a very healthy way to eat meat but we only eat meat in about 50% of meals. As for dining out, I love everything from a good Sunday roast, world foods, fine dining or the occasional Ikea hotdog!
Since having my son I rarely have the luxury of going to bars any more but in Leeds we are spoiled with many great ones. Through my work as a body-painter and production designer I’ve worked in many of them but I’ve worked at Bar Fibre for the longest and as their window display person for 10 years am part of the furniture now. I Love its flamboyance and being part of a great family team! For lunch with the girls and kids it is often Normans or Nation of Shopkeepers but Neon Cactus & Jakes Bar & Distrikt are always the best for evening drinkies with old friends behind the bar and a shimmy round the dance floor to cool music!
Favourite Restaurant: In London it’s Bentleys Seafood Restaurant, just off Piccadilly, as my father took me there from being very young and we would sit at the bar chatting to the staff as they opened hundreds of oysters. In Leeds I take my son to Little Tokyo Japanese for lunch as it’s so healthy, Normans for their fried chicken wings (the crack cocaine of the food world), Harvey Nichols 4th Floor & Gauchos for occasional decadence and the Deer Park Pub in Roundhay for the best Sunday roast after a walk round the lake!.
Quote of the moment:
|“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life… as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.”|
|Booker T. Washington quotes|
All sorts, depending on mood! I’ve passionately lived through many generations of dance music so I have nostalgic favourites spanning the last 20years and as I work in clubs I am surrounded with this constantly evolving genre. I adore classical & jazz for working to including anything from Eartha Kitt, Ella, Nina etc to Amy Winehouse & Corrine Bailey Ray, Nouvelle Vague, Melody Gardot and the like. For more up-beat listening my fave album of the moment is Bag Raiders and elecro music such as Ted & Francis, Chromeo, Maceo Plex, Neon Neon…………..and I love Spotify Radio for finding new stuff I’ve never heard!
Favourite travel destination:
Not so much the destination as the travelling, I love it!! I have many favourite places and have travelled all my life so am happy in the tropics, on beaches, learning cultures, being active. I took my son to Australia, Thailand and Cyprus last year but, at 2, he was really too small to appreciate it all but we’ve just come back from snowy fun in the French Alps and looking forward to Barcelona & Ibiza this summer! Wish we could travel more but with 2 Darling cats we are prevented locking the house up and deserting!
Studied at: Leeds College of Art Course: BA Visual Communications Degree
What influenced you to do Fashion Design HND and BA(honours) degree in Visual Communications? And why did you pick Leeds?
At the time I started college at 16 I was going through quite tumultuous times in my family life and this had an effect on my concentration and also brought the move from Kent boarding school to Yorkshire to be nearer to my Father. I started a foundation course first and at the time found myself really frustrated that we spent so much time making pictures from spaghetti and the like, so I swapped to fashion as I adored illustration and designing and had more time to draw with purpose. I suppose my art practice was further forward than the foundation course catered for. Following that I started the Fashion Degree at University of Northumberland at Newcastle but I had to leave after 4 months to look after my Dad who passed away soon afterwards. As sole benefactor of his estate & business it took 2 years to tie up probate and then I moved to Leeds to be near friends and went back to Uni ……….and stayed!
Who are your favourite artists and influences?
So many to mention as I like things I wouldn’t paint myself, and get influenced even by things I dislike! I adore and admire most genres of art & design and love the way art is such a link between the sociology, political landscape, fashion, music and culture of any particular time. Whilst I learn draughtsmanship from the great masters and their figurative techniques I also admire contemporary work, deconstructing traditions, finding beauty in strange places and challenging us to think differently all the time. In my illustration work I am really influenced by such artists as Gerald Scarf, David Downton and the late Ronald Searle and I only consider myself at the beginning of my painting career and a fledgling so am constantly influenced by many things currently.
You went to boarding school as a child in Kent and spent a lot of your child hood immersed in culture in South East Asia as well as Australia, Africa & Europe what was it like growing up such a diverse style? What are your memories? Was this an easy lifestyle?
There were immense highs and lows of having such a childhood. Whilst living in exotic places had, what we all think, as huge luxuries such as palacial homes & servants, in reality, as an only child of a single parent who spent much time travelling for work I was isolated, lonely and at times left in a very vulnerable situation. The culture, history and beauty I experienced whilst living in those countries was indeed amazing but the loneliness was equally devastating and when political unrest was at it’s highest, after President Akino was assassinated in Manilla I asked my Dad if I could go to boarding school in the UK. Being a boarder immediately immersed me in a family of friends and brought routine and stability with girls I had lots in common with. I loved every minute of boarding school and as a kid that had little family and a pretty rocky past it was brilliant fun and I made life long friends I still have to this day!
Do you think your history plays a key influence in the diversity of your work today?
Well, I am very adaptable, liberal in my views and draw on the experiences of my past both good & bad for concepts & ideas. As I have so many strings to my bow professionally I suppose that my past has helped me work independently and given me the drive to succeed. That said, when I lost my Dad I went off the rails for a long time whilst I rebelled and wasn’t as productive as I should have been and I still punish myself for not being further ahead with my career, but that was the grieving process and there’s no time limit for it!
In 2007 you travelled around the world taking undertaking art projects in Thailand, stock horses in Australia and nudes in L.A what was it like working in these places and different environments?
It is always easy to be inspired when travelling and as long as one packs some decent brushes, it’s easy to find paint to buy in most places and plenty of people who love art. I have a real interest in the trading of art for bed or food when travelling and I’d love to do a project in future travelling and trading artwork, mural paintings and see how far and what I could get. In this age of consumerism and financial unrest it is a comforting back-to-basics way to survive; swapping something that comes natural to you and gives people pleasure. I’d like to see if I could make a documentary about this actually. I’m planning to take my son away over next new-year to India so perhaps I could develop my idea then I hope??
What are the challenges and highlights of working around the world?
At the moment it is challenging having a toddler who needs constant vigilance and 2 cats at home that need looking after! Otherwise it’s easy to find work as word of mouth is the best advertisement. Everywhere I’ve painted so far there have been further requests for paintings and nothing is better than hearing the sea lapping as you paint and seeing the joy and smiles of people enjoying your work.
In addition to teaching at several locations around Leeds you also manage to squeeze in face painting, how did this come about?
I’ve worked in the club industry a long time and thought it could be a fun side-line, but it has taken off brilliantly and is now a significant part of my work. I look forward to doing more artistic body painting with upcoming projects for fashion stylists but even painting faces at events is fun and gives people pleasure, which I love!
What are your favourite pieces of work?
It changes on a daily basis, especially as I work in such a diversity of mediums and genres. I’m usually not too happy with work on completion then it grows on me, unless it sells right away, that’s my favourite work, the ones that put food on the table, haha! No, always the horses & people!
In particular I was blown away by 3, 4 & 7 or your original portraits and illustrations and all of you horse and animals work…how long did these pieces take and what was involved?(please find pics on the poshfruit website)
The drawings done with wire dipped in ink are very quick , half an hour perhaps, but I usually do several before I get into the swing of it and one bad move means a new page. I do portraits drawn with a feather quill in 10 minutes which is good for parties, whereas oil paints take a long time to layer up and drying time in between colours & varnishing , throw a toddler into the mix and it takes me a month to do an oil! Window paintings in town are simpler in technique and I seem to be fast a working large scale and murals a bit longer as they’re permanent.
I reeeeally liked no.1 of your sample illustrations from working alongside Ibiza DJ Erick Morillo how was it working with him and will you be doing more for him in the future?
I didn’t get to meet him personally but the project was through a friend of mine who ran his label & PR etc.
What are your key tools, favourite software’s and programmes for creating amazing work? Have you got a favourite that works its magic on all types of work?
Although I do use Photoshop & illustrator to clean up and put colour/filters on some work I am fiercely proud that the basis of my work is traditional draughtsmanship! Only years of patient practice and observation can hone those skills and no amount of technology can fake it! I use wire to draw with which is unusual but makes for an unpredictable line that is also very detailed when handled gently. I also challenge myself to draw & paint with varying mediums & scales so this prevents one becoming jaded and precious.
Why when and how did you come to collaborate with Lara Ostertag?
I’ve known Lara socially for many years and we’ve always had creativity in common, she’s always looked immaculately styled and stood out which I admire in people. As her career has blossomed over the last several years she has been dedicating every moment of her spare time to creating inspired fashion shoots and I have been delighted to assist with styling along the way (toddler allowing). As things have taken off for both of us we often use each other as sounding boards and voices of reason and I hope our working relationship can continue to give us both the strength to go much further and be mutually beneficial for a long time.
What’s happening this year, what can we be expecting?
Absolutely all sorts, no project is ever the same and that’s why I’m incredibly lucky to have a career that keeps me inspired. I’ve just finished making a mirrored crucifix for a Drag-Queen show at the Viaduct Showbar and this week installing a promo window display for Cream, bank holiday party at Mission Nightclub. I’m also illustrating for several projects, body painting lithe Lovelies for Tongue ‘n’ Cheek Events and researching a restaurant mural painting to come. All very exciting!
What are your words of wisdom for anyone interested in getting involved in your line of work?
Develop good relationships with your suppliers, mine are the key to creating slick work, on time for the best price! I can’t say hard work got me where I am as, in truth, being a party girl for years meant I was part of the establishment that gave me much of my work to start with and still remain clients to this day. I certainly think you can’t be a wall flower in the events world or for the murals and widow painting as you are often working in public and with different teams all the time.
With regards to drawing & painting skills, there’s NO short cuts so practice, practice, practice, see exhibitions, observe and go see your subject in real life………no copying from books……………or google!
If you could have a celebrity wardrobe, who’s wardrobe would you have and why?
Vivienne Westwood of course………………LOVE! (reminds me of someone else i know…Lara Ostertag!!)
If you could go back/forward in time which year would you visit and why?
December 21st 1994, to tell my Darling Daddy not to go!