Explore Your Creativity: Play with Paper, Illustration & Text | Carly Kuhn | Skillshare

Explore Your Creativity: Play with Paper, Illustration & Text

Carly Kuhn, Artist & Designer, The Cartorialist

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9 Lessons (34m)
    • 1. Introduction

      1:36
    • 2. Expanding Your Creativity

      4:49
    • 3. Choosing Your Materials

      5:24
    • 4. Drawing Your Card

      2:45
    • 5. Breaking It Down

      5:55
    • 6. Adding Flourishes

      3:27
    • 7. The Art of the Aesthetic

      7:24
    • 8. Final Thoughts

      1:34
    • 9. Sneak Peak: Carly's Next Class

      1:02
845 students are watching this class

About This Class

Expand your creativity and create a fun, one-of-a-kind gift just in time for the holidays!

As The Cartorialist on Instagram, Carly Kuhn’s irrepressible humor and signature line drawings prove that you don’t need expensive paints or professional training to be a “real” artist. Join Carly and unleash your inner artist by transforming an everyday object into a meaningful, beautiful greeting card for a loved one. From first idea to final piece, each step in this 35-minute class provides a low-stakes but high-impact exercise to flex creative muscles (even if some of your experiments don’t make the final piece). 

Together with Carly you’ll explore:

  • Drawing inspiration from the world around you
  • Playing with illustration style and hand-lettering
  • Adding flourishes with color and texture
  • Styling and shooting your creation for Instagram 

Plus, Carly opens up about her creative challenges and breakthroughs, often fueled by figuring out how to make art using unconventional materials (like a water bottle, old receipt, or takeout menu).

Whether you're looking to break out of a rut, surprise a friend, or find an excuse to clean out your junk drawer, this playful, accessible class is the kickstart you need. By the end, you’ll have a new understanding of your own creativity, plus a personal memento that’s ready to share with your friends, family, and followers. So grab a pen and get started!

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Looking for more? Check out Carly’s first class for fun, flexible drawing exercises to spark your creativity, bust block, or just have some fun with pen and paper!

Transcripts

1. Introduction: I would say my favorite thing about being an artist is, all of the worlds that I get to consume. When you're an artist, you're constantly observing and you're constantly learning and taking things in. Hi, I'm Carly Kuhn, also known as The Cartorialist, and I am an artist. Today's class is all about expanding your creativity, thinking outside the box, taking something old and making it something new. We're going to be using found objects to create a card art piece hybrid to give to someone special in your life. We'll start with picking the person that you want to create this card for, finding inspiration on what you want to put on the card, adding some text in, different ways to play with scale and style. At the end, we'll finish with a little moment where we style your card so that you can share that photo with the person you're giving it to or to your community. This class is really for everyone. You can be a budding artist or you could just be someone who's looking for a creative outlet or looking to just not looking at a screen, even though you're looking at the screen right now, but we'll ignore that. That you just want put pen to paper and meditate if you will, in a creative way. Let's get started. I don't even know what I'm going to create, but we will figure it out together. 2. Expanding Your Creativity: The way I got into this unexpected art career was when I was actually at a more traditional job and I used what was around me. I had a pen and printer paper. That was initially what I use. After doing this for a few years, I really embraced, not necessarily intentionally, but I embraced using what was around me because I never viewed myself as an artist traditionally, and I didn't really know what's the right thing to buy or what's the right thing to do. But I would just see this thing here and this thing there and use it to create something. I even one time had an old water bottle and had paint and I happen to one day not bring a paint brush and I just made a face out of this water bottle. You never really know what can come out of that if you just embrace what's around you. This class touches upon that and shows you that you can create something really beautiful from just what you have around you and what you have access to. At first, it may feel like you're limited, but I think embracing that, you find a style that you wouldn't necessarily find if you were trying to plan that out. I have these faces, these installations and murals around the city that I got to create. The first one that I ever did, it's outdoors, it's on cement in a construction place and there was chipped paint or old cement or whatever it is. Initially, it might seem daunting because the paint might not go on as smoothly or you might not get that perfect line, but, after I created it, it just made the image of a simple face that much more dynamic. There's built-in character. When you're using something that already has a life of its own and you're adding your own artistic hand to it, sometimes those happy accidents, you're not going to get those when you're sitting down to plan something out. I thought that having the end goal being a version of a card makes the project that much more special. You could create this piece and have it be up on your wall or have it be displayed in your home. But I thought because when we're using found objects as it has this life of its own, and it's this special moment that you're creating with it to then give it to someone else is just an added layer of life that you're giving to this object, or this piece of paper. We're going to create this card, and I use quotes because we've all seen different versions of cards, you have regular card that opens, you can just have more of a postcard on one side. I also think we are always trying to find the perfect card. You're already ahead of the game by doing something and creating it yourself, and you're going to get out of it something for yourself as well because you're going to find some new creativity that maybe you didn't realize you had, but then you also get it, gift it to someone else, so it's like a double one-two punch. If you took my first class, this is an extension of that. The first class was about finding your creativity, and this is more of an expansion of your creativity thinking outside the box. For the lesson, we will start out by figuring out who you want to pick, source some inspiration of what materials to use, what thing you're going to maybe draw on the card, and then I'll show you how I go about doing it. You can watch and then we'll do it together and then finish it off with a little styling moment to capture what you created it in a photo. I picked my mom and my friend for the two cards, but you can pick anyone. The beauty of this class, this exercise, is that you can make it your own. There's not one right or wrong way to do it. Think about who you want to make the card for, and next step we will start gathering materials to make the card. 3. Choosing Your Materials: So the first thing we need to do is find our canvas, if you will, by discovering the materials around your house that will be good for us to draw. I found this Antique French Encyclopedia like artist, something like that, was on the outside this Antique shop that was closing, and because I'm a collector of things, I took it and the pages were also old and they fall out easily. I like to draw on these pieces of paper. Another example can be as simple as, we all have pieces of paper that gets scuffed and maybe we don't want to use it for a note or whatever, so you could do something simple like that. You could also do something out of a magazine, a lot of different ads. You wouldn't necessarily think this when you're looking at it, but I don't even remember what this is from, but it's blank. Can be simple. It's a color that you're drawn to. Again, it's really anything you want. It can be simple like this. You can draw over something more dynamic, but you don't want to pick something that's dark, that you won't be able to see or work on. I have another thing here that I ordered produce box and it came with a little intro about where their produce comes from but then it also had different recipes that you can create from the produce box. So I thought this would be a really nice thing to draw on and you can do something like that too. When you're searching for different materials to draw on, you can also try to think about the person that you're creating for. This recipe may be something that I cooked with my mom and this would be a great background to draw on top of. It could even be a little notebook and you just have blank pages that you can really tear out. Again, you can get creative that way. I mean, I even have an insert from a candle in here. How can you use this? I'm showing you all these things that even in this moment, I had this on my desk and you may be a minimalist in a lot more tidy and clean, but I feel like there's probably something in your home that hopefully this display will inspire you to find something to create on top of. I think that I can validate a lot of the extra stuff. We'll keep it PC, the extra stuff I have in my home by saying, "I'm an artist, this is part of my art." Maybe at a certain point, maybe my friends would see a certain closet and maybe I'm a little bit of a hoarder. I like to think of it as a collector of things. You're always searching for inspiration everywhere you go. Maybe after this class, you're going to see the world in a different way. It started even when I was in improv, acting groundling class where the teacher said, "The best way to find inspiration is just go out in the world, see how someone orders their coffee, that's a really interesting moment." That translates into how I consume things and collect things. I'd go out into the world with this viewpoint of, "There's a really interesting old vase on the side of the road that maybe has a little bit of a crack on it." Again, it might be trash to someone, but what's a way that I could make it art or make it more interesting? "The world is your oyster," as my mom says. For my mom's card, I'm going to use this grilled mushroom recipe, insert that came with this box of produce. Just to relieve some pressure of having to have everything seems so literal. This isn't a recipe that I cooked with my mom, it wasn't a produce box that I got with my mom, but it's just for me. My mom loves to entertain, loves mushrooms, coming together by the table, and eating, and all those good things is something I associate with my mom. I'm going to use that and then I'm going to use just one of these pieces of paper from this old book for my friend partly because I think it's beautiful and I would want it in my home, and my friend has similar tastes to me. Again, it's not necessarily so literal. The piece of paper that we're using doesn't have to be so literal. You can make it personal by what we're going to add. That's what I'm doing and let's see what you can do. 4. Drawing Your Card: I'm going to start with my card for my mom and I'm going to just start drawing and you're going to see how my mind works, but we'll break it down afterwards. The first thing that you want to start with is some object or thing. I am just going to do a glass of wine and a bottle because I think just sharing that simple moment with my mom over some food is the best. I'm just going to go here and start drawing. As you can see, I happen to do it on an angle and I'm filling the page and then you have this text around, so you can draw right over it, you can exaggerate, make it bigger, make it smaller. The first thing I'm doing is just creating the image, keeping it really simple. Already this page is different, it has different life to it. From there, you're going to add some text that is simple, it doesn't have to be over complicated, and you can add it in different areas. Just thinking about something very simple that means something. An expression my mom and I always say to each other is, "Love you to the moon and back." As you could probably see, I spaced the words out and you could do this in different ways that completely change the visuals of the card. It just visit different way, you can play around with size and style within the card. This class in this exercise, sometimes may feel a little cheesy or is this something that my mom would really want? But ultimately, what I want you to take away from this is just thinking outside the box when it comes to creativity and these little lessons that I'm showing you, playing around with size and style will really translate into any art that you decide to create. It's just a way to just expand your way of thinking what creativity is and what art is. Now let's break down what I just created and then you get to try it out. 5. Breaking It Down: So you just saw me create the card for my mom and I was doing a lot of things. I'm going to break down what I just did, and I'll do my friend card just so you can see the variation of how this can be applied to any situation. The first thing that I did was think of the object. I think to make the card feel like this grounded, cohesive "card" by thinking of an image that means maybe something to you and your friend or your mom or your lover, whatever. I did the wine glass for my mom, and for my friend, I thought I would just do flowers. Again, I think the key here is to not over-complicate things and think of just something very simple. First, I'm going to start by drawing a vase, and as you can see, I'm deciding to pick a spot and I like to do the unexpected if you couldn't tell. Instead of going from the middle, let's just have the vase of flowers here on the side. So just drawing some flowers. Again, very simple. Now what you can do is change that up and just have the flowers be bigger to fill the space. We're working here with scale if you want a technical term. I'm going to fill the space up here, and see it's just very simple. I'm not overthinking it. Just going for it. Right here already, if we step back and we're not even thinking of it like it's a card and you're just looking at this like it's a piece of art, there are two different styles going on here. I mean, you have something small on the corner, something bigger in the middle. There are so many variations you can do. You can even dissect or pull apart the actual image. Again, I could go here and just do a flower in the corner. The next thing we're going to do is add text. You'll see again it's another layer. We're calling it texts, but in this exercise, the text is part of the art piece itself. I think that's a style that I incorporate into my work. I like to have text in the art itself on the Canvas and rather than it feeling like this is words that are being added separately. I view words as part of the visual, as part of the whole piece, and I'll show you how you can. In the same way we changed the size of the piece and where we put it on the page. How something simple like that, just adding a few words and having it be in different styles and different sizes can change how the piece feels. I'm going to just keep it simple with saying miss your face. I'm going to write, miss your face. It's funny. It almost sounds like miss your face. Like that's the person misses you're face, whatever. You see here I did it small, but you could in the same way. Playing with the idea that the words are part of the art, I like to sometimes have the words follow the object. So here, and you can even change it up having it be a script here. So miss your face. Already you have two different styles, and they're cool and interesting in different ways. You could just keep iterating and playing around with this idea, so we can even turn this over to show you. I'll again do something quick with the vase. We have the flowers here. Now let's do something even bigger. So miss your and then face. Just doing these exercises, you're creating a card in the end for someone, but they're really just to show you how taking words, taking images, drawing it in different ways can change the feel of what you're creating. It also may help you understand what art you like. You may like a little more simplistic, minimalist art. Something here where it's small and then there's a lot of white space. But you might like a lot going on. Play around with that and that's the next step in creating these cards. 6. Adding Flourishes: Once you've done different versions and you land on the one that you want to send off, have it be your final piece, we can round it out with a nice little accent color or a little dab of color if you want. If you like black and white, keep the black and white, that's fine too. I'll pick this one from my mom. Let's see. Again, you can use different pens based off what you have around. Maybe this is a little knot or, I don't know, rose or something. Just adding a little color gives it another dimension, or adds another dimension to the piece. Say we have that, then these pieces here, let's go with the minimal. Actually I like this one. Let's go with this one. Again, adding some color, and it's a completely different medium, so it will look different. But this is cool here because it also, you can see it has a little texture. It's getting on my hands, but that's okay. If it gets in your hands really, it make you feel like you're a true artist. That pops so much, and these are artists' oil pastels. I think I was talking about how doing things on different textures, or adding different textures gives it new life. I've never used this on this paper before, and it's really popping, and it feels almost like three-dimensional. Another happy little accident. There you go. You can see how just something so simple as playing with size and the style of this type of font versus script, all these different little changes can transform a piece so easily. You have your finished piece and you can choose to actually send it to the person, you can photograph it and send it to the person. Even though we call this a card, I think it's almost like it's its own separate piece of art that you're giving to someone. I think it'd be nice even if you had a little piece of paper that you write an additional card on and just, dear mum, love you, whatever you want to write, Carly. Add your finishing touches, pop a color, whatever you want to do, and the next thing we'll end the class on, is a little bonus styling moments, so that you can capture your piece in a really beautiful way that then you could share with your social community, or you can send to a friend and say, "Look what I did, and look how pretty I shot it." See you in the next lesson to finish it up. 7. The Art of the Aesthetic: I have the two pieces here that I created. I'm going to just style with one. I'll put this one off to the side. The first thing you want to do is set-up a little vignette and similar to the playing with scale, and size, and style within the page, we're doing that here. Whatever you have around, I like to mix objects, other pieces of paper, and build on it. So I'm just taking what's around me right now. I'm going to maybe put a piece here. I have some scissors, which are really beautiful, and some of your materials are always nice. Let's see, I get my pen in there. Again, even if it's not anything you used. Let's see. I always like putting, if you have some pretty matches. It also can add to the theme of what you are going for, when you sent it, decided on this person. You can make it feel uniform like this, but you can also again play with things differently just looking at overall scene and stepping back. You can just keep playing around with it, taking things, removing things, playing things down, whatever. As you can see, it's just trial and error. So this bonus art of the aesthetic, where there's the art itself and then there's art within photographing what you do, styling things. I do it because that's a lot of my own work. I do share my work on Instagram a lot. I don't like just sharing an image on a screen every single time, I like to show things in different settings. It also shows you scale of the piece you created. You can see the pieces this big compared to a pen or pencil or scissors. So it gives you context, and I also think it's another layer of art. Just styling is an art, but then photographing something is an art. It just gives you another dimension of the piece that you created. But again, I'm sharing this because if you're like me, you want to put your art out there or you want to create something and share it, you want to do that in a beautiful way, to put it out there on Instagram or wherever you're sharing it. Because you did this beautiful thing and then you just take a blurry photo of it or it's not styled in the best way, it's not going to be viewed in the best way that it can be. Now that you've set your scene, what we're going to do is take a photo. I keep saying there's different layers. The way you set things up, there's different scale, size, perspective. Then within your phone and how you set it up, you can take a photo, and you want to make sure it's parallel to the plan that you're taking the photos. So you take a photo, but then you're going to get something very different, if you do a close-up. You can play around with that. Even within, by tilting it, you're getting a different shot. You can go super close-up. The other thing is you want, if you can, to have natural lighting, but whatever you're working with, you can do that. Then you would go to an editing program, so I picked VSCO and you want to add one of the photos. I am going to pick the one that is farthest away. But I might end up editing multiple photos because again, you're sharing things in a different way, a faraway shot, you're seeing the contexts, you're seeing this size of the piece. When you go up close, you're showcasing a different part of your art, maybe the details within the shot. We'll start though, with the faraway. What I'm doing here, just because it's saved, obviously not straight. If I go to adjust and here I am flipping it, so that it's the correct way. Also, if you are going to share this on Instagram, when you're taking a photo of your work, you don't want to crop it, make it square, you want it to fill up the screen because when someone's scrolling through, you're taking up more on the screen and you want them to stop and look at what you created. Here, I have the shot. There's different tricks if you don't have natural lighting or you do, but you have the lighting and it's a little more yellow, you can play around with a bunch of different things. So first of, it's maybe a little dark. I might do the exposure, a little bit. Then, if it maybe feels a little too blue or little yellow, you can play with the white balance. So it says temperature, and if it feels a little blue, you can put it more to the yellow and it will balance it out. I'm sure there are technical terms. This is just what I do. If you feel like it's a little too green or pink, whatever, it's just about trial and error and playing around and learning, and that's how I learned just by doing it. This is where I'm at. Now, you can play around with things, you can add grain, which makes it feel a little more like vintage, like old film camera style. Really grainy or you can have it really crisp. I sometimes like to do a little bit, just sometimes. For this, I feel good about it. I'm going to save it, and it then goes to my camera roll. With each thing that I'm doing, there's so many different versions and it can feel overwhelming, but it's really just about doing it and doing it over and over again. You'll get the hang of it, you'll start to figure out what style you like, do you like a little more moody colors and have it be really dark, and then maybe take note of what are the things that you're liking on Pinterest or Instagram? What is it about that shot is it a very clean shot, is it very cluttered? These are just things that you learn by exploring and doing it yourself. Experiment. There's no right or wrong way to do this again, but just play around and have fun with it. I'm really excited to see what you guys create. 8. Final Thoughts: Congratulations. You've made it to the end of the class. I hope you had fun. I hope that you leave this class not just being able to give something to someone, but also having a newfound confidence. People always reach out to me and they say, "How did you get so good at this?" I don't like to use the word good, because as we all know, art and being good at art is so subjective. It's not about being good, but it's really about finding your own voice and your own style. It really comes from just practice. I was creating things in the beginning and thinking that I had all these flaws and these mistakes. From doing these drawings over and over again, I realized that the mistakes weren't actually mistakes, but they were actually things that people gravitated towards they liked seeing. I figured that out just by drawing a little bit every day. Not necessarily having any goal in mind, just creating to create so that I could feel more comfortable in what I was doing. I hope that's how you feel after this class. I'm really looking forward to seeing what you create. Also let me know how it goes if you give this card to your friend or mom or whoever, I hope they like it. Just share your piece in the project gallery. I'm just excited to see how it goes. Thank you for joining. Bye. 9. Sneak Peak: Carly's Next Class: If you took my first class, this is an extension of that. The first class we did some exercises to just get pen to paper showing you that you can just create, you can draw, anyone can draw, you can have fun with it. The second class is, you can use different materials, you don't have to just use a pen and paper. You can do x, y, and z. I hope you enjoy this one just as much as you enjoyed first one. If you love this class, if you loved my first class, I also have a live class coming out next month to wrap up the year. It will be more about taking time to pause, reflect on the year we just had, maybe thinking to the year ahead and just having a little bit more of your time. I hope to see you in my live class next month.