you may know illustrator/artist carly kuhn for her playful penmanship on @thecartorialist but did you know that she also has a keen eye for design beyond the notebook? we got very at home with carly in her DTLA studio to see what her daily work uniform might look like (messy beach waves and a chic canadian tuxedo), and how she creates her beautiful works of art (barefoot, and on the floor). read on to get to know this energetic L.A. artist and her stunning work space a little bit better! you can also purchase carly’s prints for your own space here! ~ michaela d’artois, vérité published
what lead you to your career as an artist?
i originally came out to la for the television business. i was a television, radio & film major at the newhouse school of communications, syracuse university. after college, i moved to L.A., worked at CAA — a talent agency — then went on to work as a producer on chelsea lately. while technically for five years i worked for only two places, i always joked that i had multiple careers over that time. i had a food blog at one point “winner winner kitchen dinner”, studied at the improv school groundlings. and i think this was because i was constantly searching — wasn’t exactly sure what it was i was searching for at the time. but, i knew i wanted to be a creative — creating something tangible. after a series of random events, i unintentionally fell into the path of an artist. so, i guess the short answer is i was searching for that creatively fulfilling life.
what fulfills you most about being a full-time artist?
similar to why i fell into this world, what i love about being a full-time artist is that i get to create every day. additionally, it is extremely fulfilling to know that i am creating art that people connect to and also want to own in their homes! it’s still surreal to me every time someone purchases a piece of my art. one’s home is such a personal space, and i feel honored that people want my work to be a part of that.
What are your rules for decorating an inspirational studio space?
i wouldn’t say there are rules for decorating a studio space, but rather finding a feeling. you want your creative space to feel good, inviting, inspiring. and your feelings in the space may change, and that’s ok. when i first moved into the space last october, i set it up one way – with a wall installation dividing out the room. when i came back from the new year i felt the space needed a change. i moved the installation wall to the back of the studio which opened up the space, giving me a new breath of fresh air and inspiration.
do you have any design elements you live by?
my design style may slightly change depending on where i’m living or working. for example, if i were to live in a beach bungalow (dream) on the west side, my style may have more beachy, bohemian accents, as opposed to if i lived in a loft style apartment in downtown L.A., i may have a more minimal style. that being said, what i do think is a good rule of thumb (for me anyways) is to start out decorating your apartment with your large items in neutral colors — your couch, coffee table, large accent chair — that way you can add character or color slowly as you settle into your home. additionally, it helps if you do move to a differently styled place, your big staple pieces will likely work wherever you may move.
do you have any advice for artists that are starting out?
try everything. experiment. know that it’s ok to mess up. and work on something every day at least once a day. that doesn’t mean completing a piece every day, but rather creating something, whether it’s a scribble or an experimental abstract painting. this will help — not in getting “better” because i believe there is no such thing as “better” in the art world — as art is subjective — but it’s rather about becoming confident in what you do. gaining that confidence will allow you to continue on pursuing your career.
where do you get your inspiration from?
if i’m creating a more literal depiction of someone or something, i get inspiration from images that can be from instagram, pinterest, a magazine. if i’m doing something a bit more abstract, or one of my one fine line series, inspiration may come from a song, a poem, a feeling, anxiety.
i see your work mostly on the internet or social media, but you work mainly with your hands — what are some of your necessities for creating your illustrations?
i must always have a pen on me — for inspiration may strike at any moment! i feel naked if i go out into the world and forget one of my favorite pens at home. also, good music. i must be listening to good music.
we’ve been bingeing podcasts, do you have any career or motivating pods you listen to while creating?
i love garance dore’s podcast “pardon my french.” her interview style is raw, fresh, and authentic. that is rare and i love it. i also recently starting listening to the “scriptnotes podcast”. on the surface, it’s about screenwriters, writers in general, their processes, challenges — but overall there are a lot of universal themes like the imposter syndrome, procrastination, anxiety — that all of us creatives can relate to oh so well.
• photography by michaela d’artois, vérité published.