Skip to Main Content

UNF artist alumna collaborates with international brand products

Claire DeVoe HeadshotTransferring brilliant colors onto textured fabrics is a delicate skill that Claire DeVoe Rooney, University of North Florida alumna, uses to leave her mark on individual brands' artist series around the world. 

Since 2018, DeVoe has collaborated with ICEMULE, a popular soft cooler brand, on three design lines after James Collie, the ICEMULE founder, president and chief executive officer, reached out to her.  

“James would give a list of colors and show me images to help with inspiration for the design, like the ocean or mahi-mahi fish,” explained DeVoe. 

DeVoe IceMule Artist Series coolersAll three projects are personal to DeVoe as they align with major life events.  

The first design was inspired by the ocean, with blues and greens. Around the time of this creation, she was pregnant with her first son. The second design was inspired by the desert, with warm colors that resembled a sunrise and sunset, and while working she discovered she was pregnant with her baby girl. In the third design, created in 2020, James requested that DeVoe use navy and black.  

“It felt appropriate to work with dark colors during this time, as I was mourning my brother who passed away in a tragic car accident,” said DeVoe.  

With a history of living on the coast and inheriting a love of surfing from an early age, DeVoe’s artwork is heavily influenced by the ocean’s energetic movements, hard-to-describe patterns, and gorgeous colors. By using a printmaking technique called monoprinting in her studio, she uses top-of-the-line exterior latex acrylic paints and water to layer translucent colors and create unique, one-of-a-kind designs which she transforms into functional art for everyday use. 

Artistic inspiration 

DeVoe’s childhood is reminisced by hundreds of drawings and unique designs collected by her mother. Though she showed a talent for creating new and original concepts, she did not consider pursuing art as a career while in high school. Instead, she was heavily involved in club sports, having played for her school's volleyball, soccer and track teams, and had hoped to obtain scholarships to continue playing competitively. Yet after numerous broken bones, she found herself disheartened by the athletic toll on her body. 

Deciding to search for colleges in Florida, DeVoe already had UNF on her radar due to her brother attending the University. After being accepted she began her undergraduate career as a building construction major, inspired by her middle and high school summers spent in Mexico building homes for the homeless with her youth group. She realized her talents led more to decorating than constructing and she switched majors to fine arts.  

After graduating from UNF, DeVoe's art took a significant turn with the help of her grandmother, who was also an artist. 

“My grandmother was a talented master of all trades, and she would often tell people ‘you couldn’t afford me,’” said DeVoe. “She helped set my expectations for the value of my art.” 

In 2014, DeVoe reached out to her grandmother and asked what she planned to do with her sewing machines as her eyesight worsened due to her age. Knowing that sewing was so special to her grandmother, she inquired if she could have the machines. Her grandmother, excited to share her interests with DeVoe, packed up all her sewing things for her to pick up that same weekend. Afterward, DeVoe drove to Naples to meet with one of her former high school teachers and first sewing mentor. And the rest is history. 

DeVoe x Jams World Artist Series handbagsDuring a point when DeVoe was getting bored with creating artwork on canvas, she began sewing into her collages and making functional art once with fabric designs. Since then, most of her works have been made in honor of her grandmother and mother, who were both influential in her creativity. 

She also worked with the Hawaiian brand Jams World in 2017 who noticed DeVoe’s work through an Instagram post. Pua Rochlen, the owner of the company, contacted her directly and discussed his vision for a collaboration. DeVoe created a whole collection of custom-designed handbags she sewed herself, with each exterior of the bag featuring one of her monoprints and the inside made of Jams World fabric. 

Watch DeVoe’s unique creation process.