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Plant Runner Collaborators: Claudia Messenger

This week we launched the first of our free downloadable artist collaborations. We asked local Melbourne artist Claudia Messenger to create a Plant Care Zine based on a few of her favourite plants exclusively for The Plant Runner. 

We first came across Claudia when we discovered her incredible Domus Botanica Zine, a collection of plant illustrations inspired by old biology magazines and were super keen to work with her. This post is  a chance for you to get to know a little more about the artist behind the work.

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do
I’m 21 year old creative/plant nerd who moves between illustration, photography and oil painting. 
How do you work and what themes do you pursue?
Most of my work up until this point has been in portraiture but recently I’ve moved more into botanical illustrations as they are so fun and delicate to create. I draw inspiration from the botanist masters, in particular Joseph Banks, as well as contemporary tattoo artists and old medical illustrations. 
Favourite artwork? (If that's too difficult, favourite artist?)
Oh man thats hard haha, gun to my head I’d probably say Bouguereau’s Birth of Venus (we stan Botticelli’s Venus too but Bouguereau’s is just next level) but there’s also so many other paintings I love just as much.
We first saw your work in Domus Botanica - can you tell us a bit about it? 
Domus Botanica was a project I started after losing my job to COVID as a way to combine my obsessive plant research with my obsessive plant scribbling. It’s a illustrated zine of common houseplants with care info and tips for propagation etc. I wasn’t expecting the fantastic reaction it received which has really inspired me to focus on art more going forward. 
Without thinking - favourite Plant?
Fiddle leaf, I know it's basic but theres something about those huge strong leaves with defined vein systems, the potential for so much growth, I love them. Fav plant that I can’t afford yet is Anthurium Crystallinum. 
Can you tell us a little about your own plant collection? Are you a #crazyplantperson?
I’m absolutely a crazy plant person, back home in Melbourne I probably have around 100 plants of all different types, I can’t walk past a new plant without taking  it home. I miss them a lot but being in the tropics of north NSW is amazing, I’m surrounded by monsteras, giant mature pothos, philodendrons, syngoniums and snake plants all growing wild. 
Do you think being around plants helps with your creativity?
I think being around plants helps with everything, they bring so much life and joy into a space. I’ve always been someone who’s found meaning in trying to help people and animals, something which has often times gotten me into trouble.
Taking care of plants fills that need for nourishment and care, without being a destructive force on my mental health.
They offer stability, they make sense. I know why my maidenhair is wilting or why my pilea is growing unevenly, and I know how to help them flourish. (Plants also won’t cheat on you lol)
Any new projects we should keep an eye out for?
At the moment I’m working on an illustration series for a local gin distillery and a few photography projects. When I get the time I’m planning to expand the Domus Botanica series so look out for that!
Finally, what's the best advice you've been given as an artist?
You’re always going to be bad at things for a while, just be patient and put in the hours of work.   
You can follow Claudia on the 'gram here (art) and here (photography) or check out her zines here

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