Carly Larsson is an illustrator, designer & multimedia artist based in Portland OR. She received her BFA in Illustration & Communications Design from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. She continues her post-graduate studies with Dalvero Academy, a New York City based school of drawing and reportage illustration.
Select clients include IDEO, Thompson Hotels, Calypso St. Barth, Ideeli & more. Her work has been published in the Washington Post and exhibited both internationally and throughout the US. She has guest-lectured at Pratt Institute and Parsons School of Design in New York City and currently teaches workshops at Radius Community Art Studios in South East Portland.
Carrie: When did you first realize the arts were an important part of your life?
I’ve been drawing and painting since before I could speak, so I would say I’ve always known art to be an important part of my life.
Carrie: How would you describe your art?
My work is loose, energetic, and playful yet sophisticated. My illustration work is mostly mixed media; I use a lot of watercolor, ink and pastel (both chalk and oil), but I also love to play with printmaking and am always trying new mediums. My ceramic work is still developing, as I only started working with clay a couple of years ago, but I try to bring the energy and feeling of my illustrations into my 3D pieces.
Carrie: Can you describe your artistic process to readers? For example, do you follow the same pattern and track when you develop an artwork from idea to product?
My process typically depends on the project and the problem I’m solving, but no matter what a project always starts as thumbnails and notes in my sketchbook. I start with lots of research and brainstorming, and then thumbnail my ideas before choosing a direction and moving on to a final.
For example, I designed a collection of ten scarves for Front Row Society, a Berlin-based fashion company. For each design there were 3 thumbnails that I narrowed down to the one I liked best before moving on to the finals. Here is a link to photos of the final collection.
Carrie: What does your workspace look like?
I’m actually in the process of moving into my first private studio, so I’m going back and forth between my home office/studio and my studio at Radius Community Art Studios in South East Portland. I’m still setting up my new studio, but it has a storefront window and private entrance and I’m excited to have my very own little gallery/workspace there.
Carrie: What strategies do you use to help yourself when you feel “stuck?”
When I’m feeling stuck it typically means I need to take a break. If I can, I’ll take a day off and relax, go for a walk, go to the park, see a show at a museum, or just pick up a book. I have to remind myself it’s okay to take some time off from creating (as long as I’m not on a deadline), because most times when I allow myself to take a break, I’ll come back to the drawing table feeling refreshed and excited to dive back in.
Carrie: How do you take risk in your art?
Drawing from life (a live model or just out on location somewhere) is my favorite way to take risks; the timed poses when drawing the model force you to make quick decisions, and you can experiment with different materials, graphics, perspectives, etc.
I also took a class in college with George Bates called ‘Sketchbook Warehouse,’ and one of his prompts for us was to make ugly drawings; he encouraged us to choose colors we hated or materials that frustrated us. It’s crazy what you can discover when you let go of the need to make something look attractive.
Carrie: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to your “beginner” artist self?
It’s okay to mess up that one drawing – you’ll make hundreds more. Draw from life. Practice ALL THE TIME! Study other artists. Keep a sketchbook. Write down your ideas. Thumbnail first. Be kind to yourself: you’re growing.
Carrie: What do you hope viewers take from your artwork?
I hope that my work communicates the sense of joy and wonder I feel when drawing.
Carrie: What is one creative resource you can’t live without?
The Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines is a great resource when it comes to quoting clients for licensing fees, particularly if it’s for an industry I haven’t worked in before. Additionally, the AIGA is a great resource for learning about design-related talks and events.
Carrie: Who/what inspires you?
I’m constantly inspired by too many artists to name, but my mentor Veronica Lawlor has been a huge inspiration both during and after college, pushing me to study hard, work harder, and showing me how to be a strong, confident business woman.
Carrie: How do you define Creativity?
Creativity is really just problem-solving, and the unique way in which an individual approaches solving a problem: whether that problem be how to depict something you’re looking at through drawing, what shape and size to make a handle on a ceramic mug, or how to organize a block of text so that it’s legible and engaging to the reader. While these are all examples of problems one might solve in a creative field, creativity extends beyond the arts.
Be Creatively Courageous: Always drawing from photo references? Today, spend 5 minutes drawing from life. Share your work with the community! Tag @ArtistStrong on Instagram or post it in the FB Group.
Additional Contact Info:
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/carlylarssonillustration
Portrait of Carly by http://www.greystanton.com/