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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Meet Carly Watts: Featured Artist from That Which We Do Not Understand

Carly Watts is a self taught illustrator based in Sheffield. Her whimsical contribution to my 10th anniversary limited edition book is called The Golden Rabbit and is based on an ancient folk tale.

Written by Amelia Gregory

Amelias_magazine_TWWDNU_Carly_Watts_golden_rabbit
Carly Watts is a Sheffield based illustrator who is inspired by all things cute and whimsical. Her work starts life as a simple sketch before being digitally coloured using a limited palette. The Golden Rabbit is based on the tale of the Moon Rabbit that is popular in a few cultures. ‘I’ve put my own sort of spin on it, showing a rabbit who wants to visit the moon goddess, but as it gets closer to her, it becomes part of a constellation so that it can always be with her.’

WinterBirdsbyCarlyWatts
How did you learn about the tale of the moon rabbit which inspired The Golden Rabbit illustration?
I first discovered the tale whilst I was on holiday with my family in Florida. There was a gorgeous display in the Japanese pavillion located in the Epcot Park and my mum suggested that I take inspiration from it to create an illustration of my own. I’ve always loved rabbits, and I had plenty of pet bunnies as a youngster, so it seemed only natural to base my piece on them!

HogwartsExpressbyCarlyWatts
What was the process of creation?
All of my illustrations start life as a simple biro/pencil sketch on a scrap of paper, which is then scanned and digitally coloured in Photoshop. I much prefer to work digitally as it gives me more room to experiment and change my mind (which I often do!) and I like playing around with the colour palette too. I really love to work quickly too, I don’t like spending too long on any particular piece as I feel it can get stale and lose its freshness.

ZoellabyCarlyWatts
What is your favourite subject matter to draw and why?
I’ve always really loved drawing girls and that’s why my blog is usually full of blogger portraits, I think my love of drawing girls stems from my childhood really; I’d spend hours at my nan’s house just drawing random cute girls on a big pad of paper. Lately, I’ve been really inspired by space and the cosmos so that is a subject matter which is starting to feature in more and more of my work, even in The Golden Rabbit!

CometLandersbyCarlyWatts
What is the creative scene like in your home town of Sheffield?
It’s a pretty thriving place full of little galleries, and of course, we have the Millennium Gallery which is a great space right in the centre of town. Just walking around, you’ll see plenty of art if you look for it. There’s lot of Kid Acne graffiti on the walls near my flat which is pretty cool to spot on the way to Tescos! In addition to the visual arts, Forced Entertainment are based in Sheffield, probably my favourite group of theatre practitioners; they are always pushing the boundaries and trying new things – just a really admirable bunch of people.

FinnishLinebyCarlyWatts
Where did you study and what was the best thing you took from your illustration course?
I didn’t actually study illustration funnily enough! I graduated from Hull University a few years ago after studying Drama. I tried to focus on the backstage and stage design aspects of it though as I’ve always loved creating art and this was another way to do that. I suppose it showed me how art can be applied to other sectors, there’s a lot you can do with it outside of being a fine artist, something I never considered whilst I was at college. I really wish my art A-level course had touched on illustration more, it’s something that seems largely ignored within the confines of the curriculum which is a shame – maybe things have changed by now though.

JonSnowbyCarlyWatts
What inspired you to start working with bloggers and who have you worked with recently?
I actually had a fashion blog a few years ago so I suppose I already knew about the community, I started my illustration blog some years later and decided to try and reach out to bloggers as much as possible because they really do inspire me. It’s amazing how the industry has grown, just look at Zoella for example! I’ve worked with some really sweet bloggers lately, including awesome ladies such as Gemma from Miss Makeup Magpie and I have a long standing collaboration with the amazing Jennie who runs Sailboat.

BuildYourOwnCastle480px by CarlyWatts
I love the way that you include testimonials from happy clients on your website – where did you learn that it was so important to maintain a healthy relationship with the people you work with?
I think this is something that comes naturally to me as I had a lot of customer service jobs when I was younger. I’m a friendly person, and I think this comes through whenever I take new work on, which means that people are happy to come back to me as they know I’m reliable and understanding. It’s really the only way to be within the blogging community too – if you hope to build connections and expand your network, you really need to show that you can work collaboratively.

Read more about Carly’s inspiration here and pledge for her beautiful limited edition gold leaf print here. 50% of profits go to the artist, so get involved! 

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