[EXCLUSIVE] Our Interview with Illustrator Caitlyn Carlisle

Photo: Caitlyn Carlisle This week, we speak to illustrator Caitlyn Carlisle, who grew up in a building which once had Elvis, Amelia Earhar...

This week, we speak to illustrator Caitlyn Carlisle, who grew up in a building which once had Elvis, Amelia Earhart and Al Capone as guests, and traveled to Turkey and Israel with her archeologist father! These positive influences must have impacted her artwork.
Simply fascinating.

Hi Caitlyn! Tell us a bit about yourself!
Hi! My name’s Caitlyn. I grew up in Chicago in a famous old hotel-turned-apartment building on the lakefront. People like Elvis, Amelia Earhart and Al Capone had been guests of the hotel in its heyday, and I would run around this semi-creepy old building playing make believe and throwing birthday parties in the grand ballroom. It was very Eloise meets The Shining. My father is an archeologist so as a child, I spent summers with my family going on digs in Turkey and Israel. During the year, I would visit the art gallery my mother worked at after school. There I’d make friends with the art installations—one in particular that stands out in my memory was an overweight elderly lady eating ice cream in a full-scale ice cream parlor. I would tell her about my day and all the kindergarten gossip. It was an unusual childhood to say the least, which I’m sure, shaped me as a person in more ways than one. I spent my entire life in Chicago before moving to Texas for college and then New York where I attended F.I.T. and have been living/working as an Illustrator and Fashion Designer for the past 5 years.

When did you discover your love for illustrations?
I’ve loved illustration, art, and drawing my entire life. I was drawing dresses and prints before I could spell. I pursued a career in design first. It wasn’t until college when I created an illustration for a friend’s birthday and started receiving orders from around the country and even internationally, that I realized that I could, in fact, do this professionally.

Where do you get your ideas and inspirations from?
I’m very inspired obviously by fashion, which my illustrations primarily focus on. However, I don’t want to just draw pretty dresses. I am very adamant about my work being a reflection of what is happening in fashion and culture right now—be it a trend or not, I look to document the current mood of the fashion industry. For example, when Rick Owens sent out a crew of step dancers down the runway to showcase the Spring 2014 collection, I knew that was something innovative and new that I needed to illustrate. I try very hard to concentrate on what resonates only with my own personal style and people I admire as well as it makes for better work. But aside from fashion, one of my biggest influences has been the Illustrator, Kenneth Paul Block. I absolutely love his illustrations and his vast variety of styles. My own skills have matured quite a bit and I’ve learned a lot from studying his work. I also love abstract paintings although my work is much more literal. However, I can’t get enough of the rawness and chaotic nature of paintings by artists like Jose Parla. And of course, I will forever be inspired by Andy Warhol and his ability to turn the art world upside down while being smart enough to capitalize on America’s consumerism and fascination with celebrity through documenting the people and commercial products of his time. My amazingly talented friends are also a big source of inspiration for me. It’s important to surround yourself with interesting people.

What are your favourite mediums to work with?
I mostly work in pen. But it changes depending on what image I’m looking to create and how I think it would be best expressed. I’ve used many different mediums. It’s good to change it up—it keeps your work fresh.

Who do you dream of working with?
This is a tough question. There are so many designers and brands I admire. I’m obsessed with Celine, Comme Des Garcons, Rei Kawakubo, and so many more, which I of course would love to work for in some capacity. It would be fun to collaborate with stores like Opening Ceremony or Colette. I think my work is best suited for companies that are looking for a more organic or artistically innovative way of promoting their lines. I love collaborations, so I would be open to anything with an interesting vision. I think the most important thing is finding people/brands to work with who inspire you and vise versa.

If you could only work with one colour, which one would it be, and why?
Most of my work is in black and white, with a few exceptions. So I’d have to say black—although it’s technically not a color. The simpler the better in my opinion. I’m a big fan of minimalism.

Where is the one place on the planet you have dreamed of visiting?
Well it was Kenya, but I recently fulfilled that dream and spent two weeks on safari. It was amazing and I was fortunate enough to get to record my trip through illustration—finding so much inspiration in the scenery and the Masai clothing. So now, I’m not sure! Maybe Capri. I’ve wanted to go there since I saw the film, 'Contempt by Godard'. It’s so beautiful.

What would you do if you win a million dollars?
I’d buy an apartment in New York. It’d be nice not to pay rent anymore! Then, I’d put some aside for the clothing line I eventually plan on designing. I would also travel as well as donate a portion to the soup kitchen/outreach center I volunteer with in Chelsea. Although, I think I’m already over budget.

Caitlyn Carlisle's official site
Caitlyn Carlisle's Facebook Page

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