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Weekend Agenda: Meet the Dawn Patrol Camp Cup Artist, Claire Giordano

In commemoration of our Climate Neutral certification and our commitment to the wellbeing of our global community, as well as the health of our environment, we partnered with Claire Giordano for the launch of our special release Dawn Patrol Camp Cup.

Claire is an environmental artist who uses her skills to creatively tell stories of climate change, science, and the modern experience of nature. She lives in the forested foothills 45 minutes from the MiiR office in Seattle, and we are excited to share an interview with her!

MiiR | What sort of art do you do, and what was your path to becoming an artist?

Claire | I have described my work in many ways, from “adventure artist” to “plein air painter” to “after work sketcher fueled by naps on the bus.” In the last year, however, I began using the title “environmental artist” because it captures the interdisciplinary intentions of my current work. My recent paintings and field projects have focused on using my skills as an artist, especially observation, to creatively tell the stories of our changing world. This mission touches everything I paint, from the watercolors I create beside melting glaciers in Chamonix and the Cascades, to collaborations with scientists. 

My path as an artist began almost a decade ago when I painted outside for the first time on Mount Baker. I was a participant in an amazing wilderness science, art, and mountaineering program called Inspiring Girls Expeditions. This trip catalyzed not only my love for painting on-site, but also opened my eyes to how art could create connections between people and a landscape and make climate change relatable on an emotional level. Ten years (and many different jobs in the outdoor industry later) I am creating work directly inspired by this experience. 

This inspiration is also why I was so excited to collaborate with MiiR on this design. It is a combination of all of my favorite themes as an artist: climate change, landscape, and a bigger story behind the lines you see. 

Q | Where do you find your inspiration?

Claire | I am inspired by the resilience and beauty of nature and the many individuals working to address climate change. People often ask me if it is depressing to focus on endangered landscapes and to witness the loss of glaciers. On one level, yes, it is incredibly hard to see these changes and know what is being lost and worry that we are doing too little, too late.  But at the same time, I am also filled with hope when people see these paintings and take time to send me messages saying how they are inspired or learned something new. I don’t expect to inspire a wholesale change in behavior overnight. I instead hope that my paintings might plant the seeds for environmental stewardship and bring about increased awareness of what is happening.  

Q | How do you incorporate elements of sustainability into your art?

Claire | This is one of my favorite questions because it applies to how I create on many levels. Regarding physical materials, I re-use as much as I can. No scrap of paper goes to waste and I use blue shop towels when painting that I can rinse out (some have lasted me two years!). I also ship all of my packages in reclaimed packaging…every box, bubble mailer, and cardboard sheet is flattened and stored. My clients always get a good laugh when they see my frankensteined (but very sturdy!) boxes, especially for bigger paintings.

Beyond physical materials, sustainability is an underlying theme of my work. I paint landscapes and places impacted by climate change in the hopes that the art might inspire people to be curious about what is happening, or maybe even feel some of these impacts on an emotional level. Because I believe that feeling something deeply is what might spur us to action and be the foundation of stewardship.

Q | How are you practicing sustainability throughout Earth Month? 

Claire | As a global society, we are collectively experiencing something on an immense scale. And like almost everyone I know, this has touched every element of my life. Normally I would celebrate Earth Month by going hiking and creating art outside as spring unfolds. This year, however, I began a new project to help me feel connected to the public lands we can't visit as we work together to stay safe and healthy. 

For nearly two weeks, I have been creating a new painting every day based on the views shown on National Park and public lands webcams. From sunrises on Mount Rainier to watching clouds bow around peaks in Glacier National Park, these daily paintings are a remote “plein air” creation. Although I can’t be on-site, this is the next best thing because I am still learning about a place and deeply observing it. These webcams are all over the country and such an amazing resource I don’t think many people know about. From parks to a huge collection of fire monitoring cameras in California these new paintings are helping me appreciate our natural world in new ways. 

I am sharing these daily paintings on my Instagram.

Q | Explain how we met! What about MiiR’s values and mission resonated most with you?

Claire | I met members of the MiiR team when I created a sharpie drawing on one of their Camp Cups. We were at the Winter Outdoor Retailer show in Denver, and a friend walked up to me with a gorgeous mug that said “Re:Claimed” on it. I immediately wanted to know what that was about, so we went over to the MiiR booth, and I offered to create a sketch on a mug if I could take it home (I am a sucker for nice mugs). While “painting” in sharpie I learned about the reclaimed mugs,  MiiR’s product-to-project mission, and how they are using their creations and company to empower people. This kind of dedication is rare in our current corporate climate, and I knew right then I wanted to work with MiiR. Their mission aligns with the underlying goals of my artwork, and it was such a cool experience to bring this design to life. Of all the possible designs to create, one that honors Earth Month and helps tell the story of MiiR’s Climate Neutral commitment was such an awesome intersection of my passions as an artist and a mission-driven company.  

Q | Tell us about the creation of the Dawn Patrol Camp Cup design and what it represents to you.

Claire | Every design begins the same way a painting does: with a pencil and a page filled with sketches. I always start this way because the hands-on component is the most effective for me at capturing ideas and experimenting. The overall design process mirrors the creation of a larger painting, as well. There are always multiple layers and iterations of paint beneath the final product.  

The final design is my favorite kind to create because it subtly integrates a bigger story. The mountain shapes are based on local ranges in the Cascades and each element of the design illustrates an element of change, from seasons to recreation activities at different times of the year. Each of these changes is also impacted by global warming; as the climate shifts, we are experiencing extreme weather events, alterations in the onset of our seasons, changes in plant growth and distribution, reduced snowpacks, and even major impacts on outdoor recreation. Each of these changes are ones I have experienced firsthand as an outdoor painter, hiker, and mountaineer.

In the face of these changes, I remain incredibly hopeful. MiiR is at the vanguard of companies dedicated to making positive changes in the world. And in my design, that hope is represented by the moon and the sun, which through invisible forces have a huge impact on the entire world.

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