Carly Lake is a freelance illustrator based in Los Angeles, California, who specializes in animal and wildlife illustrations.

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Like most of us in childhood, I loved drawing animals. I feel lucky that this interest never stopped and has only grown stronger the more I grow and travel! To this day, I enjoy reading about animals and their place in the ecosystem they inhabit. I’m also interested in animal symbolism in stories and folklore from around the world. With a nature illustration project, I spend time doing my own research into the species I am painting. Often, I will work on additional sketches to become intimate with the animal’s forms in different positions, and unravel their unique characteristics. From the majestic to the minuscule, I capture the nuances of anatomy, movement, and expression, with a stylized touch. I seek opportunities to show how an animal interacts with its environment. Through my illustrations, I aim to evoke a sense of wonder and connection with the natural world.


  • California Native Plant Society 
  • California Native Plant Society, San Diego Chapter 
  • The Kampong Botanic Garden
  • The National Tropical Botanic Garden
  • The Los Angeles Mycological Society


What animal do you most relate to?
To be honest, I think I relate to a happy-go-lucky Labrador Retriever most of all. I keep an upbeat, positive outlook and make new friends easily. I need lots of exercise to stay happy. I don’t like my meals to be late. Also, my friends and family take priority in my life.

What animal is the most fun to draw? 
I’ve found I really love drawing herons and most other birds. I also find it a fun challenge to visit an aquarium and do quick sketches of the fish and other creatures swimming around in the tanks. There is pressure to capture their moving form in a few quick marks. This swiftness brings such life and gesture into the drawings.

Which do you prefer: cats or dogs?
Although I grew up with dogs (and apparently relate most to them!), I love having my two cats as pets. They nap while I paint. They cuddle when I’m done. It’s a good deal!

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