Illustration We Love: Nicole Cmar

Nicole Cmar is a Columbus, Ohio based illustrator and designer who is very handy with a Posca pen. She will be appearing at our Dream Safari group illustration show in Brighton this July so we thought it would be great to do a little interview with her before the exhibition opens. Read on to find out about Nicole’s favourite bands, how she goes about making her work and her advice for aspiring illustrators…

Illustration by Nicole Cmar

1. What’s fun to do in Columbus, Ohio? Take us on an imaginary day out!

Columbus is great, there is so much to do!

If it’s morning time downtown, I like going to SuperChef’s, where they serve superhero themed breakfasts. I’m not that into superheroes, but green Hulk waffles are just necessary in my life. Then because I’m stuffed I’d go on a walk, maybe over the West Rich Street Bridge, where there’s an odd looking deer statue that poses like a human leaning on the railing. Next, I’d make my way over to German Village and poke around in The Book Loft, a 32 room house turned bookstore that I usually get lost in. While I’m in the area I’d stop in my favorite delicatessen Katzinger’s and grab a Potato Knish and a Dr. Brown’s Cream Soda.

In the afternoon, if it’s the first Saturday of the month, I’d head over to the Short North for Gallery hop and get my eyes on some art. Then I’d make my way back up Long Street and pop in Spoonful Records. And to end the day, I’d grab a beer in Grass Skirt, a really chill tiki bar. It’s best at night because they usually play Elvis music and have M.A.S.H. or some random movie playing on the tv. If it’s a Wednesday night, you’ll find me and my buds in there doodling in our sketchbooks.

Illustration by Nicole Cmar


2. Tell us a bit about the non-profit organisation that you co-founded and what motivated you.

Ahh I was so lucky to have been a part of it! I randomly signed up for a local event called Give Back Hack, where people gather for a weekend and pitch ideas for startups that can benefit the community. “Ears On”, a nonprofit for kids hearing aids, was pitched by a young girl named Eden and her mom. I joined their group thinking I could be useful with design work, and I made the logo and other graphics while helping with business suggestions. Figuring out everything in such a short time period around a bunch of people doing the same made the environment pretty hectic, but it was exciting! We ended up winning  $5,000, which is really helping get things started.

Design and illustration by Nicole Cmar

3. You are part of Pretty Picture Club, an international studio of illustrators and designers… how did this come about? Do you collaborate together?

Yes, PPC is the mac to my cheese : )  I’m the digital director and I organize the interviews for our blog. The group has become like a second family and they have been so helpful in shaping up my career. Having people to back you up when you’re unsure of something or telling you you’re on the right path really makes a big difference, and I’m super grateful to be a part of a team of nice people.

This all started about a year ago, when our founder Alex Clauss DM’d me on Twitter to see if I’d be interested in joining a Slack group for illustrators to talk shop. There was only three of us at that point, so we were trying to figure out what we wanted the group to be. While inviting new members we came up with the idea to start monthly themes on social media. When the themes started to gain some traction, and we became more of a consistent group of people, we decided to become a studio taking on client work together. We will be taking part in our first group show in October, teaming up with our buddy Wijtze Valkema of Drip for Drip. We are very excited!

4. What are your favourite techniques to make your illustrations?

For most of my work, I use Procreate or Photoshop. Sometimes I’ll use a combination of the two. I get tired of screens a lot though, so when that happens I break out the Poscas.

5. If you could pick one creative person (dead or alive) in the world to collaborate with, who would it be?

I’d lose it if I got a chance to work with Ed Emberley. He basically taught me how to draw as a kid and I took the Big Green Drawing Book with me everywhere. Maybe that’s why I still sketch on printer paper with a thin green Crayola marker haha.

Illustration by Nicole Cmar

6. Do you listen to or watch anything while you work?

I like variety, so whatever I’m in the mood for that day is what I do. I love the podcast WTF with Marc Maron. For music I usually start with something modern like They Might Be Giants but always end up going back to my favorite oldies like Velvet Underground or The Andrews Sisters. Sometimes I find myself watching sitcoms, and other days it’s Bojack Horseman, or even Schoolhouse Rock.

7. You magically have a whole week free to do whatever you like, what do you do?

I’d go on a road trip starting from my hometown in Pittsburgh, PA and see how far I make it. Can my Chevy Cavalier make it all the way to Cali? I have some faith : )

Illustrated T-shirt by Nicole Cmar8. Do you have any tips for budding illustrators out there?

Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone whose work you appreciate or admire. I’m pretty shy, but I’ve found most people are humble and are happy to offer advice or maybe even collaborate on a project. We work in an industry packed with nice humans, and most of them have made it easy for you to reach them with a simple DM. Find your people, collaborate, and make cool things!

Illustration by Nicole Cmar Illustration by Nicole Cmar

Ayyy thanks for reading to the end! Nicole has sent us some awesome Posca drawings for our upcoming exhibition, Dream Safari this July in Brighton. RSVP to the FB event here.

Follow her on instagram @nicole_cmar and twitter @nicolecmar. See her full portfolio here.

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