Artist Crush: The Cartorialist


Illustrator Carly Kuhn, also known as The Cartorialist, became an Instagram sensation for her simple, sophisticated line drawings that tell a complex story. Having collaborated with a handful of major brands including Dior, Oscar De La Renta, Capitol Records, Prada, Glossier and Elle, the L.A.-based artist shares how she got her start and how she stays inspired.

The artist in her L.A. studio

How did you get your start in drawing? I have been drawing pretty much my entire life. I remember doodling dresses in my journals as a kid and wanting to grow up and be a fashion designer, just one of the many careers I imagined in addition to starring on Broadway or SNL. I think that was the result of growing up in New York City! I didn’t revisit drawing until I was working my first 9-5 job post-college, and started doodling at my desk for fun. And once Instagram came along, I created an account as a creative outlet and just started drawing every day. That repetition was really how I found my style and confidence.

How would you define your aesthetic? My art aesthetic is a mix of minimal, timeless and whimsical with a hint of cheekiness.

The Kiss

Which other artists inspired your career the most? I don’t know if other artists initially inspired my career. I fell into this world of art almost accidentally, and it was more so seeing images on the screen through Instagram—street style, fashion editorial, historical and current pop culture—and feeling inspired to turn these iconic images into drawings of my own. It was a way to vicariously experience all these different worlds while expressing myself creatively at the same time.

Any brands or furniture/decorative artists you are currently obsessed with? Atelier Vime. I love to daydream about living in the French countryside surrounded by all of their beautiful cinematic, wicker adorned rooms.

How do you integrate your work with the home and design industry? I think art and home design need each other. A piece of art can completely transform a room and vice versa, a piece of art can completely come to life in different ways depending on the room it lives in. But even beyond traditional wall art, I find myself constantly experimenting with all different kinds of canvases—painting on vases, blank walls, benches. Anything and everything in the home can really become a piece of art and that’s exciting.


All-time favorite artist? I have a few. Saul Steinberg, Cy Twombly and Jean Cocteau.

Favorite town in California? Santa Barbara, although I’ve never been to Napa, and I imagine that when I do, it will become my favorite place.

Who would you love to make custom work for? Harry Styles and Zoe Kravitz.

-If you weren’t an artist, you would be? Well, in my previous life before I was an artist, I worked in television comedy! So perhaps I would find my way back into that world.

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