Meet Kat Claar!
Q: How did you get started working with flowers?
A: About 8 years ago I decided I wanted to be a flower farmer and learn how to grow cut flowers. At that time there weren’t many flower farms around big enough to hire someone else full-time during the season. There were two that I learned about in and around Philadelphia, and one of them hired me! The first year I farmed, I met floral designers in Philly who bought from us, and one of them hired me to do freelance wedding work with them on the weekends. This was my introduction to floral design, and I fell in love with it.
From there, I’ve worked and freelanced for a handful of businesses in and around Philly, and still do wedding floral design for a flower shop a couple of neighborhoods away from mine. I started From Blossoms about five years ago and primarily operated as a flower-subscription service, distributing local flowers around Philadelphia. Over the past couple of years, it’s evolved into more of an art studio than a business.
Q: When did you start making videos?
A: I started making videos in April 2020 to share my process of making a flower and paper shape sculpture. One of the primary creative spaces I work out of and experience as a kind of homebase, is creating botanical arrangements and incorporating paper shapes in and around the piece to make it one new sculpture of its own. It felt satisfying to talk about my process out loud and the videos seemed to get a good response from friends and family online. Apparently, people find my voice to be soothing and calming! It was also nice to finally be able to share on my own terms what exactly I do when I’m in my studio, with my parents. I think they didn’t totally know, but the videos helped create a context for what I make and how.
Later in summer of 2020, I started making puppet videos. It was nice because I had already had some time to familiarize myself with the process of making videos which was helpful as I started to make the puppet videos. I’ve also started composing very simple scores to go with the videos which also adds another fun dimension.
Q: Do you have any artists or directors that you look to for inspiration?
A: I didn’t really when I started making videos. I do have a few now after having gone down a hole of looking for animated film inspiration. Michel Gondry whose work I haven’t seen very much of mainly Science of Sleep which has always stuck with me. What I love the most are these paper cut-out stop motion videos that he makes and posts on Instagram. I find them to be really inspiring because I’m interested in sound effects and music, and I think he plays with those things so simply and effectively.
Two other films I love for reasons related to less dialogue and more effective use of sound and music are The Triplets of Belleville and The Red Turtle. I also love Miyazaki’s collection of films, in particular the way he magically depicts the natural world and all the strange and fun details of worlds that he creates.
Q: Tell me about Wilkins. Where did they come from?
A: Wilkins is a one-of-a-kind creation by the incomparable Aunty Beast. She creates these puppets, creatures, and plushies that have such incredible personality and charm. She works alongside me as an event floral designer at Vault + Vine flower shop in Philly, so I get to see her creative genius at work when she makes beautiful flowers for client’s weddings. Then it’s like another level of inspiration, play, and color when she makes these creatures. I started making videos using her puppets last summer. She would introduce me to a new creature that she made and I couldn’t help but imagine a world or a story or a scenario that that creature must have come from. Her work has been fuel for my creativity and I’m lucky to know her.
Q: How did you end up collaborating with us?
A: I went to college with Counter Culture Coffee's Creative Director! She really loved the puppet videos I was making and reached out. It sounded like a great collaboration.
Q: Do you have a daily coffee ritual?
A: My current daily coffee ritual consists of making myself a French press to enjoy first thing in the morning before going to the flower shop or my studio. Then if it’s a day that I’m working at the shop, I'll have a flavored iced coffee around lunchtime. If I’m at my studio, I tend to get a second cup at the cafe next door.
Q: What’s something you’re looking forward to this year?
A: The Philadelphia Flower Show! I’m making a weird, fun thing for that. Also, just hanging out with friends in potentially larger groups than last year will be fun and nice.
Q: Do you have a favorite flower?
A: My favorite flower shifts with the seasons. A few weeks ago it was lilac. Last week it was dogwood. This week it might be daffodils or woodland phlox. I like the idea of picking a favorite flower for the day because tomorrow it may be different.
Q: Is there anything we didn’t ask you about that you want us to know?
A: A thought that I’d want to include with any of my creative work is that I’m aware that I’m not a perfectionist. Maybe that’s not something that anyone should own or brag about, but I think it’s a natural part of my work.
During Philadelphia Open Studio Tours recently, a friend pointed out how sometimes she can see a line of tape on my paper shapes within one of my sculptures, and I think, appreciating that I’m not a perfectionist. I often feel an urgency when I am making either a flower and paper sculpture or a video. Not a stressful urgency, but an urgency to free whatever idea or vision I have inside of me, so some decisions that I make are influenced by that feeling.