Caitlin Shearer for ‘Art Meets Commerce’

We’re partnering with The Print Bar on a new conversation series called ‘Art Meets Commerce’. Their business helps artists turn their work into saleable, wearable, and shareable items. They also have a strong track-record for supporting women’s work, and from Issue #5 onwards they are sponsoring each of our Featured Artists! It’s perfectly fitting to share our first interviewee – Caitlin Shearer – with you, as she is also the Featured Artist for Issue #5. In a super special collaboration, we have taken Caitlin’s self-portrait centrefold and printed it onto a limited run of stubby coolers. They’re available for purchase for $15 each or for $10 with any print publication purchase. (Discount applied at checkout.) As with everything we do, shipping Australia-wide is free. Caitlin is a Melbourne-based illustrator, seamstress, and clothing and textile designer, you might know her as the woman behind the label Caitlin She, and if you’re a long-time reader of ours you’d also recognise her from an in-conversation piece back in Issue #3.


HCwBB: Do ‘art’ and ‘commerce’ pull you in different directions? Do these ideas compete for your time and attention? Cause conflict? 

Caitlin: Absolutely! And it’s a question that has been causing me some headaches lately. I keep asking myself the question of what I would like to be doing the most, but because I enjoy it all—painting, sewing, designing—I am in a pickle. So I split my time up into a few sections, exploring myself through painting and drawing and writing, and then what sustains and propels my small business—making clothes, and commerce!  What would my paintings be like if this wasn’t my job and I came home to recline inside a watercolour world instead? I often wonder. I think there may be some personal conflict, but only because I care so much about each aspect of my job and want to be delivering my utmost at all times. I am true to my vision always, but the stress and obligations of thinking about and depending financially on e-commerce can be a drain to any inspiration that resides inside of me. 

HCwBB: When do they work together really well for you? 

Caitlin: I am particularly lucky to make a living from doing what I love—albeit through copious amounts of hard work. The commerce side funds my further art making and the art making makes me happy to be alive! They go hand in hand, undoubtedly. So that must be the two working well together. 

HCwBB: How do you balance commercial/financial success with your own personal definition of success?  

Caitlin: My personal idea of success is living the dream life that my 16 year old self would have wanted. Painting all day, making dresses, writing poetry, adding my say to the modern vision of what women think and feel. Commercial success is another story altogether and it sits alongside my personal vision. My long term goals are high and lofty and I see them hovering in the future—I’m walking towards them.   

HCwBB: Tell us about how you sell your art? 

Caitlin: I sell my art via my website, where I sell made to order clothing with textiles I’ve designed, plus art prints, commissioned portraits, zines, etc. Then I hang out in my studio all week fulfilling orders, packing things and sending them off!  Occasionally I also do markets or stock local boutiques. I started selling online at the age of 18 using Etsy and have depending financially on this for most of my adult life. God knows how many parcels I’ve sent off in the mail by now. 

HCwBB: How do you create your art, and then why and how do you print it? Talk us through the digital-to-IRL process for you? 

Caitlin: Depending on what I am working on I either draw, paint, or collage my images directly onto paper. Usually the theme is romance or flowers or bodies or obsession—basically whatever I can’t get out of my head. I then digitise prints, and then turn them into booklets, fabrics, or art prints. I tend to design with the final result in thought, so my textiles are very abstract and loud compared to my watercolours which are quite still and gentle.  Digital to IRL starts that way. When it comes to making clothing I go through the textile process and then the sampling process of making bunch of different garments and seeing what turns out best—these then end up as a mini collection!    

HCwBB: If money weren’t a problem, how would you make and share your work? 

Caitlin: If I was a millionaire I would just have a big house which doubled as a gallery and garden and studio and people could come in and see what a masterpiece I’d turned my life into. Wallpaper, furniture, ceramics, painted tiles, meals, pyjamas, bedding, books—all touched with my paintbrush/hands/heart.   


Stubby coolers are on sale now for $15 each or $10 with any print publication purchase. Discount applied at checkout. Thanks! 

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