It’s safe to say we’re big fans of illustrator Cari Vander Yacht here at Wrap, having worked with her on multiple stationery collections over the years. It’s always a treat to see what funny, playful and downright joyful designs she’s rustled up for us, from hilarious new baby cards, to trays for the home adorned with perfect pooches. With lots of new products in the works, plus the return of everyone’s favourite dog decorations later this year, we thought now was the perfect time to catch up with Cari and have a snoop around her Brooklyn studio housed in a former Ketchup factory.
Get Cari’ed Away! Exciting new additions to Cari Vander Yacht’s range for Wrap
Hey Cari! Tell us a bit about a typical day for you. Do you have a creative routine or is every day different?
Hi Wrap! My days vary depending on what I have going on but usually I've got a pretty routine schedule. I like a long morning at home with time to exercise, make breakfast, and waste away on my phone. I'll end up at the studio in the late morning and I usually like to get all the more concept driven tasks (sketches, emails, interview questions for Wrap) done first thing, before my brain turns to porridge. Lunch is typically with my studio mates. If we can't decide on a spot to eat, we have a dart board with all the local lunch spots and we'll just let the dart decide. The afternoon is usually dedicated to production and getting drawing done. I'll usually work until 7ish then the night is up for grabs.
When we last spoke you were working from home during the pandemic. Have you moved back into a studio?
Very happy to say I'm back in the studio. It's in an old ketchup factory and there are a lot of painters, photographers, woodworkers etc in the building. I share the space with five other illustrators and we keep the place in a sort of rambling sense of order. It's a hybrid artist's studio/bike repair shop/tattoo parlour/lounge. I'm really grateful to have it.
How do you approach a new project? Do you start sketching by hand or is everything done digitally?
I have about 10 half-finished sketchbooks that I'll turn to when I need to come up with concepts. I've somehow convinced myself that certain ideas come from certain sketchbooks so I have to have a variety laying around.
We love the humour you inject into your illustrations. Do the funny thoughts come first, which you then translate into images or do you find the funny thing when you're in the process of sketching out ideas?
A little bit of both! It's all happening at the same time so it's all sort of an idea/drawing slurry.
Though, I do take walks to shake ideas out so if you happen to see me absent-mindedly wandering around, chuckling and talking to myself, I'm probably coming up with greeting card ideas for Wrap.
Tell us a bit about your ongoing relationship with the New York Times. When and how did it come about?
It's always nice to work for the NY Times. I was lucky enough to meet a few art directors from there when I first moved to New York and that started things off. Getting into the paper was one of the moments I felt like maybe I could make a job out of drawing. Since then, I've been fortunate enough to do more projects with them including a series for an article about the reopening of the MoMa. The museum had recently had a renovation and NY Times art director, Alicia DeSantis sent me there to secretly draw people as they looked at art work. It took about three days of visiting the museum to get enough material and I loved everything about that process and outcome.
Your Christmas decorations for Wrap were a huge hit, and we're super excited about this year's range. What was it like seeing your illustrations turned into 3D characters?
They were a huge hit with me too! I wish I had a pool full of them to jump into. Very excited to see the guys in the Christmas 2022 range out in the world, especially the wheelchair pug. He was based off of a real life pug I once saw across the street in Greenpoint!
We've worked together on quite a few dog-themed products now, but it looks like your pet of choice is a cat...was it hard shifting your allegiance, or do you consider yourself a dog *and* cat person?
I'd like to set the record straight that I love both cats AND dogs. But please don't tell my cats.
Where can you be found when you're not drawing?
Lately, I've mostly been hanging out with friends and riding my bike around. You have to take advantage of the early New York summer weather before it turns against you and everything is humidity and heat!
Do you have a studio soundtrack?
I'm a diehard NTS fan so that is usually my soundtrack but I also consume a despicable amount of TV while I work. Sometimes longform drawing jobs need some dedicated TV bingeing to get done.
And finally, what projects have you got in the works at the moment?
Excited about the new line for Wrap of course! Other than that, my NDAs will not permit me to say!
Shop Cari's collection here
*Christmas dog decorations available later in the year