Considering the miles and miles of cloudy skies and landscapes that artist Carrie Shryock features in her work, it’s interesting that she chooses to capture them in the smallest medium possible: the two pages of a handheld sketchbook. But we imagine that there’s something truly special about holding one of Carrie’s painted skylines in the palm of your hand. Because despite their miniature size, these paintings still conceptually feel massive – like you’re gazing out the window of Carrie’s renovated barn-turned-art studio in Missouri.
We spent this last weekend getting to know Carrie better through her takeover of our Instagram feed, where we got a peek into her art studio (and some of her most recent pieces). Get to know this illustrator and get ready for some studio envy below:
Nice to meet you, Carrie! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m an artist and illustrator from Columbia, Missouri. I love sketchbooks, and I work mostly in gouache and acrylic, but when it comes to art supplies I don’t discriminate.
Favorite color: blue
Favorite sound: the rumbling of distant thunder
Favorite meal: breakfast
How did you get your start as an artist/illustrator?
I studied art education in college, and after graduating I spent a few years working as an elementary school art teacher. During those years I did my best to find time to devote to my own artwork and eventually left teaching to focus on a side business that was growing very quickly. A friend and I had started a stationery company called 1canoe2, and we were selling our creations online, which at the time were mostly greeting cards and art prints. For the next six years, I worked as the lead artist and illustrator for 1canoe2, helping to establish the brand and guide it creatively. We continued to focus on stationery, adding calendars, planners, notepads, and notebooks, as well a collection of home goods. I recently sold my portion of the company to my business partner and right now I am focusing on continuing my work as an independent artist and illustrator. It’s a bit scary to be making the jump, but it is also a very exciting time!
We had a chance to check out your studio during your Instagram takeover this weekend. Tell us a little bit about your studio – where do you do most of your creative work? What do you have on your desk and walls to keep you inspired?
My studio space is in the loft of a 150-year-old renovated barn on my family’s farm. I love that it has so much history. It’s quiet and cozy and has been in the family for generations. I’ve tried to fill it with things that I love and am inspired by. I have a constantly changing collection on the walls that right now includes some of my great-grandpa’s oil paintings and his paint palette, too many photos of interesting cloud formations, paint chips from the hardware store in every color imaginable, and pieces of projects that I am currently working on. I also have one of those old wall-mounted pencil sharpeners that sharpens my pencils to a perfect point every time.
What do you do to fight creative block? How do you get out of a creative rut?
If creative things aren’t happening, I know I can’t force it. If that’s the case, I get out of the studio. I like to spend a lot of time outside. Going for a hike, observing nature, and breathing fresh air can be a game changer. Exercise is also really important to me. Getting the body moving and working is one of the most important parts of my day, and know that I think more clearly and sharply after a hard workout. I also think it helps to have more than one project or idea to work on. If I’m stuck in a certain spot I can just go work on something else for a while and come back to it later. At that point, I can usually see the problem a little bit differently. There is something about bouncing between a few different ideas that helps them to fuel one another.
What impact has Instagram had on your artwork? Your career? What advice do you have for artists looking to grow their presence on Instagram?
Instagram is a valuable tool and something that is worth investing some time in, especially for artists. I think of my Instagram feed as a little gallery, and I get to be the curator. I like to fill it with the things I’m thinking about, and working on, the things that inspire me, moments and places that I want to remember, and quite honestly some things that I just want to be able to go back to because they are beautiful. Rather that think about my audience, I try to focus on posting photos that I myself want to look at. I like to be able to see the progression and evolution in my work, and I think it has helped to sharpen my eye and start to fine tune my own individual style. My advice would be to let it be an extension of who you are. Be consistent, and focus on the quality of content over the quantity. But don’t stress too much about posting the perfect shot. A little personality is great. I don’t know if that is the most effective way to use it, but that’s what I do, and it seems to be working so far.