Interview of Carly Correa by Sophie Pellegrini
Introduce yourself, Carly! Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
I’m an Illustrator/Graphic Designer from Los Angeles. I’m obsessed with color, texture, art, fun, and culture. My personal work ranges from textural abstract color studies to illustrations and surface design for products. I’m currently working as a Textile Designer for a women’s clothing brand and starting an illustration/design shop with my boyfriend.
You live in LA. How does that influence your artwork, if at all?
Being in love with Los Angeles will always have a definite influence on my artwork and I could wax poetic about the city forever. I grew up in the optimistic sunny South Bay beach cities and kept responsible class-clown, smart, creative people around me as often as possible. Many of my friends in high school were in bands and made their own music scene, so the punk ethos of DIY are a huge part of the way I live and approach most situations.
Did you study art in school? If not, what did you study?
Yes, my major was Fine Arts – Drawing/Painting and my minor was Art History. I also took as many Graphic Design classes as I could, so I’ve been combining tactile traditional methods with the sweet benefits of design technology since college. I love diving into a project by hand and then doing final cleanup details in Photoshop and Illustrator to make works as strong as possible. I definitely prefer the tactility of fine art media, but use Photoshop like it’s my right hand when the project calls for it. Illustration and Textile Design are perfect fits for me since I love combining both Fine Art and Graphic Design.
Do you believe getting a formal arts education is crucial for individuals hoping to pursue a career in the arts? Why or why not?
I’m optimistic and feel you can usually shape your future if you work hard enough at a goal. A formal arts education is definitely not essential to pursue a career in the arts. However, educating oneself is incredibly helpful and I don’t know how I’d be where I am now without all I learned and practiced in college. If I had not studied the rudiments of art and design in college, I would not be as confident and would have experienced more fear and discouragement starting out. I got a lot of stupid ideas and mistakes out of my system by setting aside the time to focus on the arts in a helpful community of comrades. I’m a strong believer in life-long learning. If you know you want to pursue anything specific, educate yourself accordingly and keep learning and pushing yourself to grow. Being thrown into the world as a young adult is super confusing by default, so it’s easier to go into that unknown with practice in your field of interest.
The boundaries of what defines Fine Art are so mystifying to me already, so back when I was deciding whether or not to apply to grad school for an MFA, I read an entire essay collection of theories of how art school should be. If you want to nerd-out, I recommend you read one of my favorite essays of all time, “How to Be an Artist By Night”by Raqs Media Collective as found in Art School: (Propositions for the 21st Century). Basically, just be an artist all the time in your life…if you want.
You do a lot of different forms of art. Do you have a favorite medium?
Watercolor, acrylic, and collage have been my favorites over the past few years. I’d like to hone in on a more specific style language but I love moving around within different media depending on the needs of a particular project. I’m making my own rules and refining them as I go along.
Tell us a bit about your work process.
I tend to start by gathering inspiration, then I refine my idea with specific research and concept mapping. I’ll do some sketching and playing around, and maybe some scribbles and warm-ups. I start with the largest forms and end with the details. The process is a little different each time but it’s always good to have a work habits routine. I try to push myself to keep the editing as a separate phase from the initial draft-making so that the loose creating doesn’t get stopped by perfectionism before it comes out. Also, snack breaks are key.
How did you get the idea for the Tea Stain illustrations? What did you learn from that project?
The idea came from one of my art professors and I ran with it. I even turned the project into a collaborative mural drawing project for a middle school art program. From this series, I learned that I work really well off of defined assignments. I was always very into the structure school provided so I work well when I give myself a beginning blueprint. I also learned that some of the initially silly throwaway ideas can end up being the most successful pieces in the end.
You used to teach kids art lessons. What did you enjoy about this?
Working with kids inspires me to trust my instincts, to not take myself too seriously, and to not always follow the rules. I will aways be a kid inside and I generally try not to stray from the spirit of childlike play in work and life. Teaching was also a great opportunity for me to refine my skills of visual description and breaking problems down to basic principles. I know I’ll return to teaching classes or workshops eventually, but these days I’m focusing on making new work and challenging myself.
Why do you believe (female) collaboration in the arts is important?
Female collaboration in everything is important. A lot of things (maybe even most things?) are more difficult as a female so it’s imperative we support each other. Can I insert the female-empowerment-fabulousness-logo (AKA nail polish emoji)?
And we have to ask: tell us a bit about your pinata obsession!?!
Piñatas are lo-fi hand-crafted sculptural celebrations of cute things kids love. And yet, we circle around them and beat them up as candy vessels. That’s hilarious conceptually and visually. Also, have you ever Googled bootleg piñatas? The best (=worst) ones look like kid’s crayon drawings come to life. Party supplies are essentially decorating with arts and crafts materials to help set the scene to enjoy each other better. So naturally I will always be into party supplies. Confetti is a fun, colorful explosion and so are we.