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  • About the Designer - Carrie Cantwell

    September 02, 2023 3 min read 1 Comment

    I’m an illustrator, surface designer and educator based in Atlanta, GA. I live with my boyfriend and our three rescue kitties, who very often make it into my art, especially the two black cats.

    I feel very comfortable creating art for kids, because I'm really a kid at heart. I love cute animals and bright colors. I find it particularly satisfying to distill complex concepts into simple shapes that are stylized but easily recognizable.

    I grew up overseas (in Saudi Arabia) in a landscape pretty much devoid of American popular culture. I moved to the United States when I was eleven, and a whole new world opened up to me. When I saw my first American cereal box in the 1980s, all the colors and illustrations and typography blew my mind. Americans are lucky, we have a really unique popular culture that's not like anything, anywhere else. When I discovered American commercial art from the 50s and 60s, I fell in love with the tongue-in-cheek style of mid-century graphics. I adore the heavy use of illustration, unconventional color combinations and whimsical themes.

    I was working as a web designer during the dawn of the internet (1998-2004) when I decided to leave my job and go back to school to get a second Bachelor’s degree in graphic design (my first degree was in English). One of the first pieces I created and shared publicly—a Get Out the Vote poster for AIGA (the American Institute of Graphic Arts)—got international recognition. In 2004, I got a phone call from All Things Considered, asking if I wanted to be interviewed about the poster design. Not long after that, I was approached by a woman who was publishing a college art school textbook about putting my poster in her book for students to learn from. It was a real confidence-booster, so I kept at it.

    I’ve been a movie buff for as long as I can remember, and I started working in film in 2005 once I’d discovered that graphic designers like myself created all the stuff (like the fake cereal box props) you see on the set. I really loved my time in that industry, and I got more recognition for my work. By the time I retired from film and TV—after sixteen years in the industry—I’d become a sought-after graphic designer in that field. I enjoyed accolades for my work in film, including recognition from the Art Director’s Guild, Wired Magazine and The Washingtonian.

    I discovered surface pattern design as a career option in 2018, and I’ve been working as a freelance illustrator and licensed artist since 2019.

    The project I'm most proud of at the moment is my Animal Alphabet. This was so much fun to create, because I wanted to find a way to portray cute animal faces but in a very geometric, stylized way. I also created my own lettering which was fun. I just love blocky, wonky shapes!

    I’m also very proud of my Fantastical Forest collection, because I love unicorns, and my floral pattern from the collection was picked up by Alice + Ames, so that makes me especially proud. I love seeing happy kids wearing my patterns. Some of my favorite patterns are some of my newest ones: Cats in Hot Air Balloons, Cats + Lanterns, (can you tell I love cats?). I love cats so much, of course I had to create an entire collection devoted to them called Quirky Cats.

    My Spaced Out and Totally Trains collections occupy a special place in my heart, because I enjoy motifs that combine both technology and travel, and I’m a huge supporter of encouraging kids in STEM.

    I usually create vector art, I've always been comfortable with Adobe Illustrator. My favorite tool is my iPad Pro (combined with my Apple Pencil, of course) because it allows me to draw directly in Adobe Illustrator. I'm now starting to branch out a bit and test the waters of texture, which has been fun. Of course, for that, I've been using Procreate and creating by hand as well, whether it's paint or pen and ink.

    I create tons of work, I draw every day. I've licensed quite a few of my illustrations and patterns, but I'm always on the lookout for more opportunities to get my art out there into the world. You can check out some of my latest projects, available in a variety of online formats: 

     

    1 Response

    Janice
    Janice

    February 05, 2024

    Fascinating bio! Thanks for putting it out here. It’s encouraging to any others interested in a career similar to yours, to see the different paths taken to get to this point. I’ve only dabbled in art, website design, Illustrator, and t-shirt and patch design as a volunteer, and as a hobby sewed clothing and quilts for years.
    Congratulations for your career!

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