Brooklyn-based Carolyn Figel is a triple threat. An accomplished illustrator, animator and designer, her skills have paved the way to projects with globally-known clients. In the lead up to the US election, MTV commissioned her to animate six audio clips telling the story of people’s “visions of America”, and, working with MPC NY, Carolyn was behind the assets for this year’s Mercedes-Benz super bowl spot and design spots for YouTube and SciShow.
But it is her drawings, ranging in theme from the political (think Trump portraits) to the banal (plastic bags), executed in blocked strokes of carefully considered colour, which had us wanting more. “My train of thought when I am working is all over the place,” Carolyn says of her process. “I like taking reference from old photography stills, and so-called classic cinema, but then I also love terrible, terrible TV. If I had to name some themes to my work, it would be a combination of nostalgia and sarcasm. I find myself constantly looking to the past for inspiration, but in an effort to not come off as ‘too serious’ I add a twisted sense of humour to the mix. In my early 20s I was really into creating collages out of old LIFE magazines. I feel I am making similar compositions now, but through illustration.”
Carolyn is inspired by artists like David Shrigley, Gina Dawson and Janie Korn who she feels “are able to use humour to prove a point in their work.” Carolyn’s “point”, these days, is inescapably political. “Ever since the election I have been involved with more women-focused projects”, she says. “I have an illustration in the upcoming issue of A Women’s Thing, and a few more editorial projects lined up — I signed an NDA for these, so I can’t talk about them… yet!”
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