Carla Smith is the creator of Kooky Koala Illustrations and will be appearing at the Birmingham Zine Fair on Saturday 9th of July. Carla is also part of the Sugarfoot Stomp team who will be hosting the After Show Party. Interview conducted by Jane McGuinness.
So, Kooky Koala, what have you been up to in the past year?
Over the past year I’ve been selling my wares at a monthly market in Stirchley, Birmingham and at Alt Press Fairs in London. I also managed to complete my second zine ‘Where the Lion is Drawn’- it is rife with giant schnauzers and public information books taken out of context.
Your website is really sweet and animated – a really eye-catching online portfolio! What made you choose to make your site so bright and colourful when so many artists and illustrators go for the clean and basic look?
Why thank you! My pal Meeno Kawaii who creates her own weird and wonderful Japanese inspired world of Siamese Cats and cute but spikey creatures is a web designer and we sat down together to see how the site would work best. If my creatures were alive I think that they would definitely move about in the way that she’s animated them. Especially the sneaky peeking koala! I guess what I wanted to get across was the sense of fun that my work’s about rather than going for a clean and respectable look.
Is the way you approach “indie” work like zines different from the way you approach other projects, such as commissions, commercial work etc?
Definitely, I can be more free and flexible with the stuff that I do for myself than any commissioned work although I’ll try to keep an aspect of myself in everything I do. The quirks come out more freely in my zines and I can happily spend hours being up to my peepers in glue and old annuals letting my mind wander for a while.
Anything special in store for Birmingham Zine Fest 2011?
I will be organising the after party with my collective The Sugarfoot Stomp which will be taking place at the The Jekyll & Hyde between 8 pm and 1.30 am. We play vintage music and project bizarre visuals courtesy of a VJ called Film Ficciones so it will certainly be a fun end to a busy day for all involved. It’s going to take place in a gin parlour with an old gramophone in the corner.
Your collages in particular have a really fresh feeling. Do you collect images over time or seek them out specifically when you’re making a collage?
I’m always on the lookout for fresh images and when something catches my eye I’ll seize it and save it for later. I’m a natural hoarder but it’s all for creative reasons, it makes moving house a bit harder though! I used to be obsessed with this shop in Brighton called Snooper’s Paradise which sells old black and white photos for 20p each, it really adds up though.. I guess it’s quite voyeuristic to collect other people’s memories.
Animals seem to have become pretty popular in illustration lately – as someone who seems to have enjoyed drawing animals for a long time, do you feel like them being a bit trendy just now is a positive or a negative thing from your perspective?
It never really occured to me that they’ve become trendy. I have a thing about drawing dogs and I suppose that has been happening more lately but that can only be a good thing.
From the sound of it you’ve spent a lot of time with animals! Do you ever draw any of your pets – or other animals – from life, or does your memory and imagination play the biggest part when drawing?
It’s all in my head because the animals will usually have quite human characteristics to them, when I try and draw things from life they usually look a bit amateurish, probabably because I’m a wee bit out of practice with doing it that way.
Lastly– if you were to spend a day as any animal (other than a koala!) what would you be?
Probably not a bird because they always look like they’re on the look-out for predators. I guess it’d be quite fun being a goose because you can hiss at people and bully them into feeding you (joke). Erm… I think I’d be an elephant because those guys know a thing or two about loyalty and sticking together.