by Zaneta Vincent

With an inspiring and innovative approach towards illustration, Melbourne based Carla Mcrae has always had a passion for sketching, cartoons and culture, using a style that mostly revolves around blank spaces paired with sharp lines, geometric shapes, and strong colours.

Carla's background in Design has been nothing but an asset, allowing clean and simplistic pieces created each with a character and story within their own worlds, whether it be executed on a wall or in a small space, Carla's work truly stays open to interpretation.

'Still.’ was Carla's first solo exhibition debuting at Lamington Drive in Melbourne earlier this year, and with already such an extensive resume which features through the likes of Urban Outfitters, The Age, NY Mag, Frankie Mag & The Design Kids, we've been lucky enough to get low down on what the future holds for this accomplished extraordinette.

How did The Paper Beast come about, what was the idea behind the website?

The Paper Beast was an online moniker and Tumblr blog title I made for myself in my final year of uni, a place to document my work, projects and inspirations. It was also a way to distinguish between graphic design work and my own personal art or illustration projects. The blog still exists, and I still use the name for my folio website but I feel like I’m gradually growing out of that pseudonym and go by my real name now.

Tell us about the characters in your pieces?

I guess the characters in my drawings are usually female, but I like them to be androgynous. Their facial features are plain and simple, with no characteristics really defining one from another. In this way they exist in their own world - you’re just looking at a simple face representative of a human. I’ve gradually been shifting to this idea, distilling and simplifying and trying to say more with less.

A lot of artists tend to project themselves into their work, do these characters have any reflection of you?

I’ve always really enjoyed drawing characters and figures, and I guess no matter what they look like or who they are they will always reflect a little bit of me. I see my work as a recreation of the world, or the way that I like to see or reduce things in my world to shapes, colour and line. The characters are usually passing through these environments or sitting and enjoying, in that fragment of time. I used to think that the characters I draw are a reflection of the kind of person or woman I wanted to be, but now I think they are more neutral and are just more representative of a / my presence.

Does your personal style reflect the art you produce? 

I think the art I produce actually influences the way I dress! I have total freedom when I draw - I can create flat, colour-blocked, geometric outfits in any colour and shape I want. Sometimes I draw a character or a composition and wish that I owned the clothing or forms I just drew.

What are your top 3 favourite sneakers in your collection?

-A pair of NikeLab Air Force 1 Upsteps that I picked up recently in the UK (baby’s first Nikes - so comfortable)
-My crazy peachy orange adidas Originals Court Vantage Super Colour Sun Glow trainers
-A very, very old pair of classic adidas Originals that turned into painting shoes and I recently had to say goodbye to (RIP)

What does creativity mean to you and what has been the highlight of your career?
Creativity is freeing. With a pencil, I can draw whatever I want or create my own world. There’s no rules - that’s totally freedom. 
The highlight for me so far has been my solo show ’Still.' at Lamington Drive earlier this year. To have the opportunity to totally command a space and fill it with whatever I wanted was an amazing task and a good challenge. I just had so much fun making that body of work, it was a real joy to share it.

Is there anything you still hope to explore or improve on?
So much! I will always want to be better at drawing and that is a reason why I can’t stop. I want to explore more sculptural or 3D forms, animation, paint bigger walls, think about industrial design, travel with my work, collaborate more with my friends… There’s always something new to work at! 

What or who inspires you, whether it's career or lifestyle wise?

Work-wise, I’m inspired and propelled forward always firstly by the super talented friends that surround me. Seeing them work hard and succeed pushes me to work harder and aim higher.

Are there any exciting upcoming projects you're working on that you could tell us about?

I’ve got a couple of collaborative projects in the mix that I’m excited to launch towards the end of the year, a couple of murals and I’m working on a new little zine about my recent trip to Iceland and Berlin!

Would you give us one piece of advice that you live by?

A quote from Henry Miller’s work schedule commandments — “Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand”. It’s so positive and makes me feel super enthused to get down to business. And reminds me that I’m just really lucky to be working in the way I can.


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