Carla Smith

How did you get into illustration?
When I left school I went straight to the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design rather than taking A Levels because I knew that I wanted to do creative stuff from the off. After my B-Tec there I decided that I wasn’t quite dedicated/ patient enough to become a photographer which had been my original plan. Illustration leaped out at me as a degree to do because I’ve always been one of those people that draw all the time when I should be doing something else and it offered me the luxury of being able to do just that for 3 years. I loved it so much that I carried on doing it after graduating.
Kookykoala seems a fitting name. Where did your fascination with quirky animals come from?

I’ve always been a bit of an animal person, when I was growing up we had a LOT of pets and it felt a bit like growing up in a zoo at times. It seemed appropriate there was an animal whose name sounded similar to my own and I also think that koalas are pretty cool creatures! A couple of years ago I had a part time job being a professional dog walker and that definitely inspired some of it too.
What inspires you and your creatures?

Although it may not appear to be the case I’m really inspired by a lot of Japanese illustrators like Yoshimoto Nara, the animal ears on semi-human characters that recurs in my work was inspired by the girls with cat ears and babies wearing rabbit suits that I’ve seen in some Japanese drawings. I’m also really inspired by vintage illustrations of dogs. I Especially love the ones by Cecil Aldin which were drawn in Victorian times but also other animal illustrations that came about in the 1920s/ 30s.
Can you tell us more about what you will be exhibting at the Birmingham zine festival?

It’ll be a mix of some of the stuff I’ve been working on over the past year or so. There will be some collage stuff and some straight illustrations plus a bit of writing. Basically a glimpse into some of the oddness that goes on in my mind.
There is mention of a childs book, can you briefly explain what will be happening in this?

This is a plan I have but am still working out the finer details of at the moment I’m afraid!
What are your plans for the future?

To set up an online shop on my website and get myself an Etsy ooh and getting something printed by Threadless tshirts if possible! I’m looking into getting some of my designs printed onto bags so that my characters can become animated and go shopping with people.

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