WinWin Magazine Edition Three WinWin Magazine Edition Three

Edition 03 Cover Artist:
Carla McRae

Meet Carla McRae, our incredible Edition Three Cover Artist!

Carla McRae has been a friend of WinWin from the start, kindly contributing artwork. And enthusiasm… WinWin thrives on enthusiasm! We’re super-proud to have a “Carla-original” on the cover of WinWin Edition 03! She is also responsible for some of the graphics you’ll see throughout the Edition.

Carla’s images are deceptively simple — comprising primary colours, organic shapes and people going about their day. When you look a little closer, you begin to see the thought and care behind each piece of work. Refining things down to simple, appealing essentials is actually a complicated thing to do!

These images depict the important things: everyday moments, small gestures and simple pleasures. Glance over Carla’s Instagram feed and you sense stillness and calm, which is remarkable, considering how busy and prolific this Melbourne-based artist actually is!

Our brief to Carla for the cover was about ‘grey areas’ — the spaces that exist in between people — how things are never black and white, and process; being in the ‘thick of it’. We also discussed climate change… there’s a lot in this Edition about that. We reckon she nailed it. Read on.

WinWin: Carla, what do you do?

Carla McRae: I’m an illustrator and an artist, and I freelance full-time. This means every day is different — one week I might be tied to my desk all week working, the next I could be on-site painting a mural.

Mostly, I get up and try to eat some breakfast at home before packing my bag and my lunch if I’m really organised. I’ll pop into the folks at Market Lane for a coffee and set off on the half hour walk to my studio in Collingwood. I love to walk; it gives me time to gather my thoughts and set my work goals for the day. Once I get to the studio, I’m into it.

I’m trying to get better at leaving for lunch and having a break in the sun — once I’m on a roll I find it hard to get out! I’ll pack up around 6 or 7 and head home for dinner, a sipper and roll into bed with a book if my eyes are still up for it. Rinse and repeat.

WW: A big opportunity?

C: I’ll always look back on my first solo exhibition at Lamington Drive as an important project. It was a chance for me to show in a well-respected illustration gallery and felt so positive. I also gained representation by The Jacky Winter Group as a result. Having commercial representation has really changed the kind of opportunities available to me and I feel so lucky to have a team of people rooting for me!

WW: Something great about your job?

C: I’m lucky enough to be freelancing illustration full-time. I’m really privileged to have this lifestyle, but it does come with its challenges at times!

The most fun thing about my job is being able to draw everyday, and work with amazing people who challenge me to make new, exciting work all the time.

WW: Something challenging?

C: The hardest bit can sometimes be dealing with the pressure that comes with being your own boss and time management; not letting the work take over.

WW: What’s the process of putting together one of your amazing artworks? Do you have a plan, or do you let it take shape organically?

C: The process remains more or less the same no matter what medium I’m using. It always involves some kind of list making, writing words down and lots of drawing on paper (or iPad — I’ve been playing with that lately!). I’ll start sketching on bond paper, re-trace and simplify, usually re-trace again and then use this sketch to start drawing the final. I’ll blow it up to the scale I want or re-draw it directly using a light box. The re-drawing is a crucial part for me as each time I re-draw, the image drifts further away from the original sketch and becomes more refined.

I have a few favourite palettes I’ve developed that I like to work with. It’s often just about ‘feeling’ — using colours to emphasise the emotion or story within the image.

WW: Any tips to help keep motivated, or get in the ‘zone’? 

C: Music is quite important to me when working. I like to listen to long ambient mixes when I’m in the idea-generating stages, and more deep house / dance mixes when making final work. Keeps my energy up! I’ve also ritualised making a hot drink too — it helps me get in the zone.

A piece of advice from Carla to teen-Carla?
Keep drawing and follow your gut! And watch that hunching… keep your shoulders back!

WW: Carla, can you tell us about a recent life-lesson?

C: I’ve recently been practising saying ‘no’ more often and creating more boundaries for myself and others, in work and in life.

It’s hard — I’m a ‘yes’ person — so it’s taking some unlearning to feel more at ease with saying ‘no’. I’ve been using Brene Brown’s mantra:

“Choose discomfort over resentment”.
Works every time.

More about Carla:

Online          Instagram