Maker Profile: Carly Rae

All photos by Emily Bordner.

All photos by Emily Bordner.

Kansas City has an expansive, welcoming, and fruitful arts community.  It fosters and invites a variety of artists from all over the county: like Carly Rae. Originally from Northern California, Carly has imbedded herself into this Midwest lifestyle and ever growing hub for artists.  Recently, Emily Bordner and I had the chance to sit with her at her home and discuss her methods, view her studio, and get to know her a little better.


Carly is most well known for her water color paintings and prints.  These can be found in a variety of locations all over Kansas City as well as her website.  You can find them at Made in KC, The Middle KC, Pink Antlers, and at the Plaza in both HMK and West Elm. Her most popular pieces are her World Map as well as nearly any breed of dog you can think of. Seriously, it is an inordinate amount.


Carly started out at San Diego State University studying to be an art teacher.  While there, she began working on activism art for a group supporting sharks, one of the animals she is personally most passionate about.  While working on a piece of a shark’s jaw, she decided to get a little more experimental and elected to start filling the jaw, something typically viewed as dangerous, with flowers, another passion of hers.  It went on to create a fun, playful, juxtaposition and inspired the style that she continues to this day.


Carly describes her process as peaceful and meditative.  She has a studio in her home that we can attest certainly appears to provide that sort of environment.  It is covered with paintings by her and other artists that offer inspiration and calm. She begins with outlining her selected shape in pencil and then fills it in with her water colors.  She finds this part to be the most relaxing. She stated that she would gladly paint flowers for any length of time. It is her at her most Zen. She likes to listen to podcasts while painting.  This can range from inspirational ones like Goal Digger, anything NPR, and investigations on murders. Thankfully, the latter of which does not affect the ever pleasant images she creates for the masses.


Carly moved to Kansas City roughly four years ago, as this is where her husband’s family lives.  Initially, she was not wildly enthusiastic about leaving the coast for the Midwest, but found the culture and community here extremely welcoming.  She said that she immediately felt supported and that it provided the opportunity to work on her art full time, an option that would not have been possible out West.  Now that she’s here, she has put in great efforts to be an active and meaningful member of the community.


In addition to her art, she volunteers to run the social media for Creative Mornings. She works with HALO too, a group dedicated to helping house and educate children that have been abandoned, orphaned, or abused. There she is the art director for their auction, as well as teaching art and yoga classes. She also recently painted a mural for the Troost Market Collective, a non-profit working to engage that community and help create a bridge between the people and local Kansas City artists. This piece can be purchased as a print and all proceeds go to help finance the future murals on Troost.


Carly was a truly genuine and kind person, who may not have originally called Kansas City home, but does now.  Her pieces are great for kid’s rooms, dorms, as teacher gifts, the holidays, or just general home décor. Some day she hopes to offer online courses and that they can be as therapeutic and mindful for others as her process has been for her.  You can find her work on her website,, on Instagram, @carlyraestudio, or on Society 6.