She turned her dread into drawings
Riding the Scooby-Doo Spooky Coaster with her ex-boyfriend was the scariest thing she's ever done. "Pretty sure I screamed hard enough to end the relationship prematurely," she laughs. She loves the feeling of being "tired enough" and feels most comfortable at about 11pm when "no one expects you to deliver any work." As well as the smell of a dank hashbrown.
Her name is Carla Scotto and she's a designer and illustrator from Melbourne, Australia. She says she was lucky to have parents who nurtured her creative streak with art classes and an abundance of supplies. She does a lot of digital work but mostly used oils growing up. When she faced what she calls "the void of life after university," she attended design school at Shillington College.
I first discovered Carla through a friend of mine, Amanda Barbour, who founded the fem&ist film festival in Melbourne. Carla designed a Medusa tote bag for this festival. Imperfect typography, a cutting remark or two, textures, and thick lines are always present in Carla's art. But what I admire the most about Carla is how conscious she is.
"I enjoy making big ideas digestible, especially things that feel overwhelming - like the state of the environment," she says. "I think about how many people have died before me living the same vivid experience, and how everything has been a sacrifice thus far to give us what we have now."
She recently submitted an application to paint on Bondi Seawalls. She has also been asked to paint a mural for the Global Health Conference 2018 in Melbourne, "It's awesome," she asserts, "to have people request work in your own style, and not have to change for clients."
RS: What do you look for when capturing an image or designing a piece?
CS: A cool composition, something that would work well on a manner of things. I always think about making it so someone would want to own it. Even when I'm getting dressed, it's a matter of adding and removing things until it feels right. I definitely dress better since design school.
RS: Someone on Instagram once called you "disgustingly individualistic."
CS: I'm probably still a Democratic Socialist … My work is pretty anti-consumption, and I don't see much wrong with growth slowing down.
RS: I agree completely. You're a drawer of sad truths. What do you tell people who want to do what you do?
CS: Be online, use hashtags, promoting yourself results in money and eventually recognition if you're doing something right. Don't be chill, be really hungry - I left my business cards everywhere to a fault. I said yes way too much and after a year and feeling burnt out by clients and friends I learnt how to say no too. Refine what you do, but don't stop expanding on your talents.
RS: What are the main challenges of your art?
CS: Liking it. I guess the answer is to boost your self esteem which I'll probably learn by the time I'm thirty. I also struggle with the overwhelming sadness that comes with constantly thinking about the doom and gloom of our environmental situation. It comes with having existential dread and the art is a byproduct of it all, but with an empowering edge.
RS: I read that Australia has so much glass and no proper systems to recycle it?
CS: It's actually fucked how normal it is to buy alcohol in glass and feel ok about recycling it ... when there's a very good chance it's not being recycled at all.
Carla's created art for East Goes Global (launching careers for Asian artists online), Woodlike Ocean (swimwear from old fishing wire and nets), Tap Wines (sustainable legs of wine that remove the waste that comes with a bottle), and WOMANset (a blog dedicated to female filmmakers), just to name a few organizations.
RS: List some of your favourite places.
CS: Naples, Florence, Madrid, Brisbane, and Edinburgh.
RS: So you studied a lot of languages growing up?
CS: I never hit fluency, I guess that depresses me. I'm Greek-Italian and can understand a fair bit... I studied French and Chinese in University. Art says a lot more than I could have hoped to say in a foreign language .
RS: Are you a writer as well?
CS: I wrote a My Chemical Romance fanfic back in the day and it had relatively good traction so I guess you can say I'm a writer. I use Instagram a lot, I browse r/relationships enough to be an online psych, and I have a LinkedIn.
RS: What makes you laugh?
CS: Inkboy makes me laugh when he tries hard enough, otherwise I mostly rely on myself.
RS: What's a day in the life of Carla Scotto?
CS: If my brain allows it, I'll spend some time doing admin, ensuring every email and DM has been responded to. I have a list of things to do on scrap paper, and if I'm having a good day I'll work on the boring things first and leave the more enjoyable work for later on in the evening. I usually have a crime show running in the background, or Mad Men for inspiration. For a couple of hours I'll walk my toy poodles before resigning myself to the computer.
RS: What stresses you out?
CS: Not getting out of bed before midday. I sleep a lot and work late. I have to get the fuck out of my house because I work from home and it can be a drainer. Walking my dogs helps a lot because I feel like I'm bettering their lives too.
RS: What is your personal philosophy in life?
CS: You don't have to be as optimistic as they tell you to be, but it's probably not as bad as you think.
RS: Do you enjoy reading?
CS: I've read my fair share of memoirs/autobiographies - Amy Poehler's encouraged me to start improv, and Marilyn Manson's reminded me of how emo I still am. I properly enjoy Markus Zuzak's books. I read a lot of war memoirs growing up, not because I'm morbid, but it has me feeling grateful for my infuriating freelance life.
RS: What are your favourite films?
CS: I used to love The Fifth Element without a hesitation, then I read about that term "Born Sexy Yesterday." I've never tired of the Hannibal films, Arrival, Burnt By The Sun, Tampopo, Kubo & The Two Strings. I love most animated films even more since starting design.
RS: You told me you like Gudetama the lazy egg. What else are you into right now?
CS: I love Christian Van Minnen's work, @lolo.ys, @simonlandrein, @annahoyleart, @yofukuro, @melgrisa, and Blake Lively's dress at the Met Gala. And my partner in illustrative crime @ink.boy.