Beachroad meet Artist and designer Clare Napper. Clare launched the first ‘Highlife’ collection in 2014 and has sold over 12,000 poster prints to date.
Clare's designs have been featured on CNN, Daily Mail, 7Days, Gulf News and Khaleej Times, She is currently working on the third and final Dubai collection for release December 2017, with a full 'RetroPerspective' Highlife show in January 2018 in D3.
NAME? // Clare Napper.
YOUR FIRST JOB? // Stable girl when I was 9 years old - I worked for free rides. Although looking back it was more like secret child labour.
YOUR CURRENT OCCUPATION // Full time spoof poster artist and Dubai souvenir maker.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN DUBAI? // Over 10 years.
WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON DUBAI AS A CITY AND ITS CONSTANT EVOLUTION? // It's an absolute privilege to watch and be part of the growth of this city - nowhere else has grown at this rate on Earth. Like most, I'm interested to see if it can sustain this growth and what the future holds.
WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THE ART SCENE IN DUBAI AND WHICH ARTISTS EXCITE YOU? //WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THE ART SCENE IN DUBAI AND WHICH ARTISTS EXCITE YOU? //
The scene has come a long way in a short time: there's now a new exhibition every week and the art season in March is getting bigger and better each year. All the artists here excite me, we have each carved our own niche so it seems to be a very friendly, symbiotic and supportive local scene. Special mention to the talented artist collective Blue Cave in Business Bay, The Brown Monkeys, Fathima Mohiuddin's Domino agency for local artists and her own distinctive work, Maddy Butcher's portraiture and Matt Ryder's painting skills which blow me away! Too many to mention here but everyone I have met have inspired me to 'get up & do your thang'.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START HIGHLIFE? // Heartbreak, a gap in the local market and a desperate need to 'resurface' after 14 years in branding and advertising.
WHICH OF YOUR DUBAI DESIGNS IS YOUR FAVOURITE? // I think "Thank Goodness for Nanny" as it seems to get the strongest reaction from people. Although this does not help the fact that it is one of my worst sellers.
WHEN DID YOU REALISE THE DESIGN WORLD WAS FOR YOU? // Probably at my school careers day when I found out that no academic examinations were needed to obtain a BA Hons in this subject.
WHERE DID YOU STUDY DESIGN ? // In Bristol - University of the West of England.
YOUR FAVOURITE ARTIST? // I'm a big fan of UK's Grayson Perry: he is a highly skilled craftsman, social critic and also hugely popular with the masses which is a rare combination.
YOUR FAVOURITE GALLERY? // I especially love small street art /pop art galleries such as StolenSpace, in Whitechapel, London.
IF YOU OWNED A GALLERY WHAT WOULD YOU CALL IT? // The Asylum.
IF YOU WERE NOT AN ARTIST / DESIGNER WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING? // I'd love to have been an actor or a fashion designer, and still dream about going into these in later life. More probably, I'd be doing shift work in a call centre and drinking heavily.
IF YOU WERE ONLY ALLOWED 2 COLOURS TO WORK WITH FOR THE REST OF TIME WHAT WOULD THEY BE? // Very dark navy and bright red (presuming I'd also be able to use the white from the paper).
WHAT ART DO YOU MOST IDENTIFY WITH? // Poster art, pop art, street art, surrealism, contemporary illustration, design led art. I'll champion the term 'low brow' - this doesn't mean art that won't end up in a fine art gallery, but it does start from a place that doesn't take itself too seriously which I see as a real freedom.
WHAT PIECE OF WORK HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE? // My whole Abu Dhabi collection - because I don't live there, it didn't come from my own experience which made it harder as a lot of research was needed. I learnt some lessons.
ANY ARTWORK / DESIGN YOU HAVE BEEN RELUCTANT TO SELL? // No way, I've been a complete sellout from the start, and if it won't sell, I lose all confidence in it and hide it away in shame.
ART ASIDE, WHAT INSPIRES YOU? // People. Sociology. Perception. Rituals. Belief systems. Physicality. Morality. Anything that helps my eternal quest to understand the truth of the world. And the Spinneys food magazine is quite something.
WHERE IS YOUR DREAM STUDIO LOCATION? // A large Balinese style finca in the hills of sunny Ibiza.
IF YOU COULD OWN ANY ARTWORK WHAT WOULD IT BE? // A huge Basquiat.
IF YOU COULD SPEND A DAY WITH ANY ARTIST ALIVE OR DEAD WHO WOULD IT BE? // Roger Broders, the French poster illustrator that has been a huge influence on my Highlife posters - to see the way he worked.
YOU CAN SPEND A DAY WITH ONE OF THE FOLLOWING, WHO WOULD IT BE. BASQUIAT, HOCKNEY, HIRST, WARHOL, BACON, BANKSY OR HARING? // I think I'd learn the most from Keith Haring.
WHERE DO YOU LIKE TO EAT, SHOP AND SOCIALISE IN DUBAI? // I mainly like to socialise in my back garden as then I don't have to go out, but if I do, then low-key places where I can get a good seat and hear what people are saying. Food wise: Pascal Tepper / any of the Tom & Serg Empire/ Lime Tree /Amongst Few Cafe/ Ravis/ Chalet/ Pantry Cafe/ Surf Cafe/ Pier 7/ Social Reform/ Nola etc etc . Shopping: I like to repeatedly spend money I don't have in Harvey Nics and I also seem to spend a lot of time in Ace Hardware.
WHO IS YOUR GREATEST FASHION INFLUENCE? // Teenage boys.
YOUR GREATEST LOVE? // Staring at my computer screen for hours on end.
YOUR GREATEST FEAR? // I see danger and imminent disaster everywhere (my friends especially love dealing with this on a day to day basis).
WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY? // Aged 2, being trapped in my bedroom with a wasp and not being able to reach the door knob to get out so was screaming hysterically.
WHO IS YOUR ROLE MODEL AND WHY? // I've always lacked clear role models as most people I know are younger than me or complete reprobates.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE BEACH IN DUBAI? // The proper Kite beach part near where I live in Jumeirah 3 as it's nice and quiet in the mornings.
WHAT IS THE LAST GIFT YOU GAVE SOMEONE? // For a best friend's birthday: a mini plastic model of himself emerging from a well.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE CHILDREN? // Growing up is a trap, enjoy your childhood. And don't procreate.
YOUR WORST TRAIT? // Being too truthful (usually after just 2 beers). Abject hypocrisy.
THE WORST TRAIT IN OTHERS THAT GETS YOU MAD? // Lateness and being excessively drunk and disorderly.
WHO WOULD PLAY YOU IN A MOVIE? // At school I was called Gérard Depardieu for his portrayal of Cyrano de Bergerac, so maybe him. Although I've grown into my nose a bit more now.
FAVOURITE MUSIC // Disco, post disco, soul, funk, classical, hip hop, garage, deep house and other random electronica. Actually allsorts but not metal or hard rock
LAST RECORD / DOWNLOAD YOU BOUGHT? // Abri & the Dreamfleet Take Flight - Dubai homegrown talent!.
FAVOURITE BOOK? // Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.
LAST BOOK YOU BOUGHT? // The Circle by Dave Eggers - was definitely better than the recent film version.
THE CLOSEST YOU HAVE COME TO DEATH? // Being sucked down into an underwater current while white water rafting on the Nile. I was spewed up 200m down river minus my shorts.
FAVOURITE TRAVEL DESTINATION? // I love city breaks -went to Budapest a few weeks ago which was an excellent trip.
LEAST FAVOURITE TRAVEL DESTINATION? // I've never been, but the main strip in Magaluf would be my idea of hell on Earth.
HOW DO YOU RELAX? // Watching films and docs. Or updating Teddy's instagram (my cat - @teddygramdxb).
BEACH OR DESERT? // Beach.
URBAN OR RURAL? // Urban.
CATS OR DOGS? // Catties!
COFFEE OR TEA? // Coffee.
WHAT MAKES YOU LAUGH? // I'm becoming increasingly uptight so only funny and comical things now.
WHATS MAKES YOU CRY? // Any remotely emotional film which is embarrassing on planes. And bizarrely, watching marathons on TV - the overhead shot of all the runners!
YOUR MESSAGE? // Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.