Arts And Flowers

CLAIRE MILBRATH: “My Life is a Roman Polanski Movie”

2 November 2021


Uwe Zhao

Claire is a painter and fellow magazine maker from Toronto. She’s the creative mind behind Editorial Magazine — a highly inspirational publication. Some of you may only know its bong logo merchandise spread all over the world. Read more about it, her work, her second publication Total Pet, and her life as a cannabis user in Canada.

Cover of Editorial Magazine No. 20 (2021)

STIGMA420: It’s nearly three years since we spoke last time. Much has happened since. Not to mention the worldwide covid-19 crisis. How did you experience 2020?
Claire Milbrath: I thought it was the end of the world and so I became frenzied, working late nights, obsessed with making our 20th issue good enough to matter in the apocalypse. It made me sad that artists had worked so hard on their exhibitions only to have them shown to no one. So I wrote exhibition reviews in the morning and worked on Issue 20 at night. I actually made good money in 2020. And I moved to a small beach town, broke up with my boyfriend. Mid life crisis.

You also gave birth to another fine publication last year: Total Pet. What’s it all about?
The poetry and fiction zine is Editorial’s pet project, hence Total Pet. I have referenced it in past paintings, it’s stolen from a pet store. The title has a sub eroticism to it. My editor, Olivia Whittick, manages the zine more than I do, because when I read poetry my eyes go cross-eyed. I am a visual person. But we wanted to work with writers we admire, and have a real zine-zine, small and affordable, no gloss.

Total Pet — here Vol. 2— is a true “zine-zine” focusing on poetry and fiction.

How is your painting career going?
I had a breakthrough with painting this past year, I started making large-scale works, and just generally feeling more confident in the scenes. I just closed my show in Montreal’s Projet Pangee, and now I’m getting ready for my next show at De Boer in Los Angeles. My work is about my relationships. I paint as a therapy, to help me process my feelings. My last show was processing my new love and subsequent heart-break. This new work is about finding God.

In TISSUE Magazine you confessed that you are “smoking weed every day.” How does it affect your working process?
I still smoke every day. I never work or paint stoned. It’s a way to release my energy at the end of the day. I love smoking weed, looking at art and vaping my ass off.

Claire Milbrath, Jungle Tussle, 2020, oil on canvas, 102 x 76 cm, De Doer Gallery, Los Angeles

What are the cons of a regular use?
Negatives? I’m paranoid! I am peering through the blinds. My life is a Roman Polanski movie.

How is the situation for cannabis users in Canada? Are you happy with the current situtation?
I am, it’s amazing. You can buy whatever you want at the store. Gummies, chocolate, …

What are you currently working on?
I’m working on Issue 21 now, it’s a slog. People are burnt out. But we have some nice stories lined up so far. I’m hoping to make more money so I can hire my editor on full-time. Let’s pray for money for independent magazines.

Don’t let friends design your logo. It may end up having a bong on it. (Designed by Clay Hickson)

What’s the story behind the bong smoking woman logo you printed on so many t-shirts in so many variations?
My friend Clay Hickson designed it. He’s so talented. He runs Smudge Magazine. I asked him to design a logo and he just came up with this, maybe a year after I started the magazine. I didn’t give him any instruction. It’s so special. People in Japan love it. When I went there everyone I met said they didn’t know it was a bong.

Originally published in

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