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Carla McRae

Creative People

Carla McRae is a young Melbourne illustrator with big plans. And we mean actual big plans, as she’s a muralist, and walls are often her canvas.

Working from her home studio in North Melbourne, Carla creates colourful 2-dimensional character-based artworks, inspired by childhood nostalgia and Japanese design.

9th June, 2016
Lisa Marie Corso
Thursday 9th June 2016

Drawing has always been Carla McRae’s thing. ‘I spent my entire childhood and teenage years drawing,’ she confesses. ‘I just draw a lot and make a lot of bad work to get to the good stuff, then re-draw and re-draw again, then pare it back until I’m happy.’

Growing up on the Sunshine Coast, Carla studied graphic design and communication, before moving to Melbourne after graduation. She supported herself by taking odd illustration jobs here and there, until she was able to leave her hospitality job, and moved onto working as creative director at Odd Pears for the last two and a bit years. Carla recently has moved to working as a freelance illustrator full-time.

Carla’s work is largely made up of colourful, flat, character-based drawings reminiscent of childhood nostalgia and the television shows and books she read as a child. ‘I’m influenced by graphics and cartoons embedded in my brain from my childhood, ‘80s food graphics and Japanese design,’ she explains. ‘My number one hero is Dick Bruna, the artist and designer who created Miffy.’

It’s been a busy year so far for Carla. Last month, she staged her first solo show, Still, at Lamington Drive, where she created a colourful floor-to-ceiling mural and accompanying artworks. Earlier in the year, the industrious 24-year-old collaborated with local letterpress gurus The Hungry Workshop to create their annual Valentine’s Day cards, and she also somehow found time to release a zine of her sketchbook drawings, with her friends at Stacks On. In addition to all of the above, Carla is presently putting the final touches on the last issue of Home Zine, which she edits with her friend Tallulah Fontaine.

Though she is intensely busy right now, it’s not all work and no play for Carla. She’s super excited about some upcoming travel plans. ‘I’m taking a little time off and making my dream trip to Iceland to enjoy some Nordic summer-time!’ she says.

Carla McRae is represented by Jacky Winter, You can see more of her work here.

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email