Claire Merchlinsky, an illustrator and art director based in Brooklyn, has recently reached a significant milestone in her career. At the beginning of this year, Claire made the transition from being a part-time freelance creative working various part-time jobs at the same time, to going fully freelance. Having already garnered commissions from the likes of The New Yorker, The New York Times and Bloomberg Businessweek, a client list at the highest of editorial echelons, Claire tells It’s Nice That on this exciting career move: “I’m still processing how fortunate I am to have this as my day job.”

Since graduating from a Master’s degree in illustration at the School of Visual Arts, on one side of Claire’s life, she’s worked in offices, retail jobs and entry level design gigs. On the other, she’s explored numerous ways to visualise The New York Times’ and The New Yorker’s famously well-researched and in-depth articles. She’s found a way to depict the trauma of revenge porn, as well as the so-called “tech natives”; individuals compliant in giving away information in exchange for efficiency. And on top of all this, she’s art directed countless web and print illustrations for the prestigious media outlets too.

“I wasn’t aware of illustration as a career path until I was already attending art school,” explains Claire. “I think I was mostly intrigued by the idea of working for myself out of a studio, but honestly, I probably just wanted to draw and went on from there.” For Claire, who like most other illustrators has loved drawing for as long as she can remember, it’s crucial to have interests beyond the visual arts. In order to keep her output both personal and unique to her, Claire allows her other passion, music, to flow into the energetic tempo of her illustrative work.

Though her experience as an art director is a relatively recent one in her toolkit of skills, the role is a welcome one for Claire, who prefers to switch up her creative outlets in order to “keep things fresh and see other perspectives from the other side of the emails.” Keen to further pursue it in the future, the delicate balance of rocking between illustrator and art director is fundamentally “ideal for [Claire’s] working process.” Uncertain of what else is in store for the illustrator’s future however, Claire would prefer to hold an ambiguous question mark over her future endeavours rather than follow a carefully planned path to a specific goal. “I know I’ll keep making things for a living, but that could lead me to many different places,” she continues. “And I’m looking forward to figuring it out on the way.”