On Friday 12th August, come along to our Art to Art – Creative Conversations event and hear from Melbourne-based illustrator and designer, Carla McRae! Carla (also known as The Paper Beast) creates beautiful, calming line drawings depicting characters exploring, going about their daily activities or enjoying moments of peace, along with luscious plants and geometric shapes. Carla also creates large colourful murals, books and zines, and is the creative director of Australian sock company Odd Pears. Leading up to our event we asked Carla to tell us a bit about her creative practice.

Image courtesy of Carla McRae
Image courtesy of Carla McRae

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a freelance illustrator and artist, based in Melbourne. I grew up on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, and made the move to Melbourne four years ago after graduating from my graphic design course at university. I work from a studio space in my little apartment, and spend most of my time here switching between drawing projects – commercial, private and personal!

Has drawing been a part of your life from a young age, or is it something you’ve started more recently?
Yes, I drew a lot as a kid. I have a lot of memories of sitting at the kitchen table as a child spending hours doodling and drawing my favourite cartoon characters or magazine spreads. I just never really stopped – it’s always been my favourite thing to do!

What’s your creative process like for your illustrations, eg. do you start with a firm idea of the end result in mind? How many drafts do you go through?
I usually always start with a sketch. It might be one that I did with the project in mind, or something that I drew weeks ago. Every project is different, and sometimes the ideas come easy or with more difficulty. Sometimes it’s smooth, I’m having a good day and I can finish up after only redrawing once. Other times, it’s a longer process where I draw, draw and re-draw and by the time I solve my problem, I’m surrounded by sheets of paper.

Image courtesy of Carla McRae
Image courtesy of Carla McRae
Image courtesy of Carla McRae
Image courtesy of Carla McRae

What do you find rewarding about your current work? Is there a particular project that you’ve enjoyed?
I’ve really enjoyed painting more murals lately. They’re a good challenge for me, and I love the feeling of using my whole body to create a work and feeling tired in a physical way at the end of the day. It makes me think a little more simplistically too, which is an element I’m constantly striving for in my work now. Very satisfying work!

Image courtesy of Carla McRae
Image courtesy of Carla McRae

Whose creative work are you digging right now?
I’m very lucky to be surrounded by some really talented good friends. People like Evie Cahir, David Booth Ghostpatrol, Leona Fietz, Andy Hatton, Robert Bowers, Tallulah Fontaine and Alice Oehr really inspire me with their talents, passion and work ethic.

Why the focus on calmness, solitude and peace in your work?
I think feelings of calm or solace can be difficult to chase for a lot of people, especially today. It’s also really enjoyable for me to make work in this positive kind of realm. I leave my drawing wermhole feeling calm and relaxed, and it makes me feel good if I can convey this feeling through my work to others.

What are your upcoming future projects?
I have a couple of collaborative projects coming up that I’m really pumped to start, and have just joined the nice guys at the Jacky Winter Group. I’m looking forward to working together on some new, exciting work. I’m in Berlin right now escaping the Melbourne winter, but I’m very excited to get back to my desk and back to work super soon.

Where can we find you online?

website: http://thepaperbeast.com.au/
blog: http://thepaperbeast.tumblr.com/
instagram: https://www.instagram.com/carla_mcrae/
shop: http://thepaperbeast.bigcartel.com/
Art to Art – Creative Conversations is a Colour Box Studio event to coincide with our annual exhibition Throw Up Your Art on 12th August 2016 at VU at Metro West, 138 Nicholson St, Footscray. Exhibition opens from 5pm with Art to Art from 6pm.
01 Image courtesy of Carla McRae
Image courtesy of Carla McRae.
Featured image by Tatanja Ross of On Jackson Street.