Image credit: Adobe Stock / Carina Lindmeier.
Even as a child, Carina Lindmeier knew that art was her calling, but her first foray into a creative profession found her on the administrative side of advertising.
“I decided to go to a graphic design school,” she said, “And then I started my first job in an advertising agency — not as an illustrator or graphic designer, but as a project manager. So, I got familiar with all the organizing stuff, and how to deal with clients, but it was kind of boring for me.”
Growing up in Linz, Austria, Lindmeier spent endless hours drawing her favorite subjects: colorful flowers, fantasy worlds, and horses. She was inspired in particular by early, hand-drawn Disney movies, and the 1982 animated feature, The Last Unicorn.
Art has been a part of Lindmeier’s daily life since she was young. “My mom is also a very creative person,” she said. “She also drew a lot when she was young, and now she’s more into sewing, and all kinds of handcraft. So, I got in touch with different kinds of creative expressions. I think that comes more from this side of the family.”
Down, but not out
Once Lindmeier graduated from graphic design school and started seeking work with ad agencies, she found that she had to sideline her creative talents.
“I got the chance to do some internships at big agencies, and I told them that I wanted to start as an illustrator,” she said. “They were like, ‘No, you’re not good enough. You don’t have this specific style we’re searching for.’ That was very demotivating — when you’re young and you’re keen to follow your dream and your creative purpose, and then someone comes and tells you that you’re not good enough.”
But Lindmeier could not ignore her call to be a professional illustrator. After ten years of working as a project manager in advertising, something changed.
“There was some kind of call, a voice forcing me to draw again,” she said. “So, after ten years without drawing one single line, I started to fill my sketchbooks again, just for me.”
Lindmeier began sharing her work on social media, and from there, things began to take on a life of their own. Though her work on the administrative side of advertising had been unfulfilling in some ways, all the skills she’d learned in client services helped her immensely as she blossomed into an independent illustrator.
Freelance at last
A huge part of commercial illustration is being able to draw to a client brief. For Lindmeier, taking on specific assignments was good practice for her as she established her voice as an artist.
“I think that’s something you have to get familiar with, meeting the needs of a client or having a creative brief,” Lindmeier said. “I think that’s the most exciting part of the job — to find new perspectives, and also to dive deeper into a topic or theme. I learned so many new things within the last couple of years. When you’re curious, and you’re excited about what you do, then every project is a new mission, or a new opportunity to learn something new and to grow.”
Though she still draws by hand to stay fresh in her own practice, professionally Lindmeier specializes in digital illustration with a figurative, contemporary style. Her work often features bright, vivid female subjects, and she tends to emphasize a handmade aesthetic (even within the digital milieu) by adding layers of textures, cartoony movement lines, and subtle imperfections that keep her compositions from being strictly flat.
Lindmeier’s hard work has paid off — she’s been tapped by major clients, including include Adobe, Refinery29, Bombay Sapphire, Simon & Schuster, Harper Collins Publishers, and Red Bull Media House, often to portray images of women in their daily lives. For the Adobe Stock Artist Development Fund, Lindmeier put together 500 images of diverse, mostly female-identified subjects, living life out loud.
“As a woman, I want to use my power and strength to empower and express the voices of others, using my creativity and visual language,” Lindmeier told Adobe Stock. “Together, we can rise and shine even more.”
Lindmeier walks the walk of togetherness — she eagerly shares her skills through online tutorials and as an instructor for Domestika, and she is generous in supplying thought leadership for others looking to get out on their own — a sensitivity surely developed from her own early experiences in being discouraged by potential mentors.
Finding a voice
Lindmeier cites her work for the ADF as helping her to really define her point of view as an illustrator — to embody a “celebration of self” with her commission. When she needs inspiration, Lindmeier takes to the streets of Linz to people-watch and take in details about life’s simple pleasures.
“It was just the kind of brief that was perfect, because my work often features women in their daily lives, or plants, or nature, and sometimes animals,” she said, of the Adobe Stock call for content. “So, it’s focused about life, mental health, and healthy lifestyle. It was easy to create a bunch of work representing some of the good things in life, and the simple and small things that can give you joy.”
The volume of work for her Adobe Stock commission has led to what Lindmeier characterizes as a restructuring process.
“When you create so many illustrations within the last couple of months, then you really see this line that continues through all of your work, like what is your specific style?” she said. “And I think this project was very good for me to see my personal growth as an artist, and also to find some kind of my artistic voice — like, what are my significant aesthetics?”
Lindmeier has learned to value the imperfections in her own work, assessing older works on her Behance profile as “very clean,” that lean more toward motion lines and hand-drawn quirkiness — just like the animation style that inspired her as a child. With this new understanding of herself, Lindmeier is more determined than ever to affirm and inspire others.
“it’s very important to get more work where I can represent, on one hand, more empowered and diverse women in the media,” she said. “That’s important for me on a personal level, because I’ve worked in agencies and it’s very boring in you cannot create change within old structures. I think it’s very important to give people a chance to have a voice. I love to tell this story.”