Published on 12 January 2015
USC graduate Carla McRae is quickly making a name for herself after launching her own graphic design and illustration business, The Paper Beast, in Melbourne.
She now does freelance design and illustration projects for a range of clients and studios and is the creative director for Sunshine Coast-based sock company Odd Pears.
Her work – which often features opaque, two-dimensional characters – is designed and coloured by hand. It has appeared on Oxfam Christmas cards, Number 45 curry paste labels, Nowhere Creek pillowcases (pictured), and in The Walkley Magazine.
The former Maroochydore State High School student said making a living from her design and drawing skills had proven the naysayers wrong.
“Many people said you can’t really make a career in art,” she said. “But I followed my passion and kept challenging myself to pursue it outside of assessment and university projects.
“I am really grateful for the encouragement from my USC lecturers and tutors who were always really supportive of my penchant for drawing and illustration.
“My advice to other design students is to start freelancing and squeezing in any experience as early as you can and do plenty of work after hours.
“Self-initiated projects are so important for helping to develop your skills as an artist and also show that you are passionate about what you are doing.”
Carla said she chose to study at USC because it offered more one-on-one time with academics.
“I really loved building solid relationships with our teachers, which in turn helped me to become more confident in developing my own design style and personality,” she said.
“A big contributor to my success was making an effort to seek out people who are into the same stuff as me.
“Being social media savvy and showing glimpses of a work-in-progress on Instagram or a blog can really generate interest, momentum and buzz around a project.”
Carla is currently working on a campaign and design for the next range of Odd Pears socks as well as some larger personal works, books and zines.
— Jessica Halls