Carmi Grau’s Joy of Drawing

Victoria DayARTIST INTERVIEWS

Carmi Grau is a freelance illustrator who is passionate about spreading joy through her empowering artwork. Her illustrations are heavily influenced by nature, and her lettering work often features massaging that expresses positive emotional sentiments.

Carmi eats, breathes, and sleeps drawing – and wouldn’t have it any other way!

Keep reading to learn more about her process in our full interview. We’ll be mailing a surprise art print by Carmi Grau to our subscribers in January so be sure to subscribe by December 31st!


Interview with Artist Carmi Grau

Lettering illustration by artist Carmi Grau that reads 'Wild About You'

What does a typical day of creation look like?

On a typical day I get up, make coffee, check my emails and make a to-do list to get a sense of what my day looks like. Then I prioritize and start working. I try to get urgent things done before lunch time. To me it is also important to take breaks in between – having a coffee, going for a walk and coming back with fresh eyes.

Tell us about your creative process.

One important thing is traveling. I like going back and forth between places. I love being in the city, but I feel the desire to be in the country too. It’s like a perpetual motion machine for my creativity. I like to go for a walk alone. That’s the time when ideas pop into my head.

What do you do to get into the zone? What gets you going?

To get into the mood I just have to start drawing. This is what I always do: just start and see where things go. Sometimes it works best when I am in quiet place, sometimes a packed train is the perfect environment to work creatively.

Illustrator and lettering artist Carmi Grau in her home studio in Berlin

Where do you make your work?

I have a studio space at home but I work wherever I am. When I am travelling I work on the train, in a hotel room, in my moms garden or in a cafe.

Tell us about what drives, motivates, and inspires you to create.

Creating is just one of my favorite things to do. I like to make the world a bit more colorful and bring some joy to others.

What are your most important tools?

I used to draw a lot by hand and I still do a lot with pen and paper. But these days the iPad is the most important tool for my work.

Illustrator and lettering artist Carmi Grau drawing on her ipad in a coffeeshop

How did you learn your craft? Did you go to school?

I hold a degree in Industrial Design. But I have always drawn a lot. And somehow, one thing came to another and I could not be happier about it. As a teenager, I attended a drawing class with Jürgen Blum, who also ran the Museum of Modern Art in my little hometown. There I learned a lot about “looking at things” and of course also about drawing. He also worked a lot with typographical elements. And it seems that impressed me in the long term.

How do you make a living as an artist?

I work full-time as a freelancer. And that works really well for me. In creative terms, it brings a lot of variety and exciting projects that I do not want to miss.

How do you promote your work?

I am represented by Closer&Closer from Los Angeles – and I love to work with them. This allows me to focus on the creative.

I also think that Instagram is a good and fun platform to communicate visually and share work.

trays full of markers in the home studio of illustrator Carmi Gray

Travel back in time ten years ago. What advice would you give to your younger self?

“Trust the timing of your life” is definitely something my younger self should have known.

What do you love and hate about the creative life?

I am the happiest when I get to draw and create. And I am thankful for what I get to do. But sure, being creative can be really difficult. There is no wrong or right – like in a mathematical calculation. It’s so closely connected to yourself and you have to put in all your talent and emotion – no matter what.

What are you currently most excited about?

This year was full of changes and adventures – in a positive way. And I’m looking forward to a few quieter days with my loved ones in the winter time.

Lettering illustration by artist Carmi Grau that reads 'We All Start as Strangers'

Favorite Artist?

David Hockney

Favorite Film?

Me and You and Everyone We Know

Favorite Book?

The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

Favorite Musician/Album?

Charlotte Day Wilson

Favorite City to Visit?

Zürich, Switzerland

Favorite Meal to Cook?

Vegan Curry

Favorite Online Art Blog/Account?

Brown Paper Bag


Carmi Grau is our January 2020 artist. Sign up for a Papirmass Art Print Subscription today so you don’t miss her print!

Check out more of Carmi’s lettering artwork in our online gallery and follow us @papirmass for more news about our January issue.