Few people can boast a giant slice of tree as the best way to simply and succinctly tell their story.

Yet for Unframed 2015 artist Carla Bartow, that tree slice (below) is natural résumé display material, as the natural world and the great outdoors are the biggest influencers of her artwork.

(That, and classic black and white movies!)

A wooden résumé.
A wooden résumé.

Sometimes being a fine artist is a very hard road. Carla credits supportive parents, a slew of different art school experiences, and the time she gets to spend outside riding her bike or mountain running as the reasons she balances being an illustrator with being an artist.

“I definitively chose to study illustration for the business potential,” she said. “But I never had my parents asking me when I was going to get a real job or health insurance. That gave me the space to allocate time to fine art, and now my career is a perfect marriage of the two.”

Carla’s most recent art show, at Discovery Wines in New York City, displays some of her works in watercolor on wood, as well as her signature linoleum block/digital prints.

One of Carla's linoleum block prints for Discovery Wines.

One of Carla’s linoleum block prints for Discovery Wines.

The linoleum block/digital prints artfully combine old and new art technologies. First Carla spends hours carving her ideas into the linoleum block (“I cut myself at least once a year,” she says). Then she takes a single-color print from the linoleum block and scans it to a digital file to fully colorize it on the computer.

“There may be other artists doing this the way that I do it,” she said, “But I haven’t met any of them yet.”

Carla likes to work in her pajamas or in athletic or yoga gear, and she said she frequently is listening to music – right now the Punch Brothers are an obsession. Though she’s designed many album covers, she says she doesn’t always like to listen to a band’s music while she’s designing for them.

Another Carla Bartow medium: old windows.

Another Carla Bartow medium: old windows.

For her winning Unframed 2015 helmet design entry, Carla chose a Pacific Northwest nature theme in earthy yellow and green tones. She’ll expand upon that for the final helmet design, using the linoleum block medium. While the process of creation with linoleum block carving is lengthy and not very forgiving of mistakes, Carla said she likes the rough personality and imperfection of the style as it tends to draw people in.

Carla is an experienced teacher and has no trepidation about making art in front of an audience. She’s also looking forward to seeing her artwork come alive on the helmet.

Early sketches for Carla's Unframed helmet design.

Early sketches for Carla’s Unframed helmet design.

“As a dedicated bicycle rider and as an artist, creating a helmet is such a dream of mine,” she said.

The Unframed 2015 Artists’ Series is our second helmet design cycle. At the 2015 Eurobike and Interbike shows we’ll debut the three new artist-designed helmets and our three artists will create art panels whose sale will benefit Nutcase partner World Bicycle Relief. To read more about Unframed, click here.