Local Creative: Claire Cottrell


An eye that seemingly always finds its way to beauty is often cultivated through life experiences and archived influences. Years of visual research for film and television have shaped Claire Cottrell’s point of view, especially when it comes to her recognized roles as photographer and film director. Through her media exploration she has also given life to the project  Book Stand, an online art book shop that curates to Claire’s feminine, unexpected and gently avant garde edit of titles. The site also begins conversations on identity with artists she loves and supports personally.

Based in Los Angeles, Claire’s own identity is deeply rooted in the place she calls home. It’s no surprise everything from the soft California light, the ocean, desert, sunhats and sandals to the food she eats has an impact on her work. Through a diary like presentation we feel close to Claire and her subjects through her personal work. Capturing beauty in intimate moments that are nostalgic of a time and place, we are transported to a feeling or instance that Claire knows well and we are invited to stay a while. An advocate for not waiting for things to come to you, Claire is constantly in motion and evolving her understanding of all things human.

Some important takeaways from our interview with this warm and moving personality are, things are beautiful if you love them, changing influences don’t necessarily mean one is more important than the last, and the Alice Waters book she turns to in between periods of creativity along with much more below.

Havel River in Grunewald; Berlin, Germany.

Havel River in Grunewald; Berlin, Germany.


What does beauty mean to you? What captivates your attention?

The French playwright Jean Anouilh said: Things are beautiful if you love them. I think this is true. It’s a nice way to talk about beauty. Something is beautiful if it means something to me. I fall in love with it because it reminds me of something or someone. If it takes me to another place. Or, if it makes me feel a way that I like feeling. Something I want to hold on to. Light, a color, a sound, a place, the way someone’s sitting on a bench, holding their head, what someone decided to put on that morning, etc.


Travel and exploration are, in many ways, a state of mind. What’s a favorite recent discovery?

A toss up between the communes in Berlin (Shetland ponies !) and The Belvédère du Rayon Vert, an old art deco hotel on the coast of Southern France. Also, passionfruit and Franzbrötchen.


(2) Le 3e arrondissement de Paris. (03) Le Marché Noir, Paris, France.

(04) Collier Schorr. (05) R Y O K O, Berlin, Germany. Manual Therapy, Zazen meditation and a boutique to connect with our senses.

What are some cultural touchstones you consider a part of who you are today — i.e.: what films, books, artists, places, etc., have been most influential in shaping you?

This is a great way to ask this question and a really hard one for me to answer - so many things have been influential. For me, influence changes all the time and I don’t know if any one thing has been more important than another. A few things …  

Growing up: “Out of Africa,” The Faraway Tree, Chalet School series, San Diego, Switzerland, the North of England

Recently: Collier Schorr, Elfie Semotan, Miyako Ishiuchi, Marco Tullio Giordana's  “The Best of Youth,” Berlin

Always: Alice Waters, Christina Kim, Luigi Ghirri, Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Californi

(06) Le 10e arrondissement de Paris. (07) Fishermen’s sweater with pale pink cotton skirt at Du Pain et Des Idées, Paris, France.
Margaret Howell, 36 Rue Debelleyme, Paris, France.

Margaret Howell, 36 Rue Debelleyme, Paris, France.


Do you think there is a time of day when you create your best work?

Definitely the morning.


A low-brow essential: A high-brow essential:

Top Chef OR Peter Zumthor interviews on YouTube


(09) Arles, France. (10) Malick Sidibé at Les Rencontres dArles.

Periods of feeling uninspired can be difficult. What do you do to feel rejuvenated during periods of creative stagnancy?

Go for a walk or get in the car and drive.

I go back to Alice Waters and Chez Panisse: The Romantic, Impractical, Often Eccentric, Ultimately Brilliant Making of a Food Revolution. It’s the best book I’ve ever read about creativity and staying true to you.


Please describe your last month in a word.


(11) Cap de Creus, Costa Brava, Spain. The easternmost tip of Spain. The first place in Spain to see the sun when it rises every morning.
(12) David Ryan & Jérôme Joy at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France. From the exhibition catalog: "Using actual events as the basis of their work, the project is deployed both within the Palais de Tokyo itself as well as at the heart of a specific geographic area, situated in Brittany, yet whose precise location the artists wish to keep under wraps. The narrative they develop recounts the birth of the clover hunter, as well as the course of events related to his existence, and its uncertainties... They have developed artistically poetic work, which is both committed and discreet, and continues to question forms of liberty and the pursuit of happiness with delicacy, tenderness and kindness.

Visit Claire’s website / insta