Karen is an extremely talented local artist and a valued long-term customer of Lasermark. We decided to get to know her a little better and share that with you. Greetings and pleasantries taken care of, the questions started:
What is your background in art, do you have any formal training?
I attended the West Surrey School of Art, then studied graphics with illustration at Epsom College of Art and Design. I went into graphics as a career and after many years in the industry decided to devote more time to doing what I love!
What is your process when it comes to producing a piece?
The first thing is finding a view or an angle that really catches my eye. I like to have an interesting object or shape in the foreground and then all my pieces are based on photographs which I take myself. If I’m doing a commission I’ll talk through this with the client, find an angle that captures what they want and that compliments my style.
What about day to day, do you have a routine when it comes to creating?
I try to keep to a routine where possible. We all know how difficult it can be though, especially recently. A great deal of my time is spent caring for my daughter who has severe autism and as such requires a lot of attention. She is obviously my priority but I do have my own space for my art and I try to fit in an hour and a half to two hours a day, sometimes more if I’m working to a deadline.
Your preferred medium is a nib pen, and the results are amazing. Is there a particular reason that you chose this style, and have you experimented with other mediums or tools?
I really like to make the most of dark spaces and shadows in my work; I’ve found that the nib pen offers a great deal of freedom of movement and is perfect for these elements especially. I have used fineliners in the past it didn’t feel as free having to crosshatch and so on.
A lot of your pieces are based on sights and scenes near where you live – what came first, the art or the setting? Did you decide one day “I live in a beautiful part of the world; I need to immortalise it in my art?” Or did you, as an aspiring artist, decide to move somewhere which provided inspiration?
From a young age I’ve drawn, it’s always been a way of switching off and relaxing for me. I happened to be very lucky living in such a gorgeous place but if you look for them you can spot beautiful views and scenes anywhere. I remember being away with my parents on the Isles of Scilly as a young girl and finding things to draw, and I still do the same to this day when travelling – I’m going to Cornwall soon and I’m excited to get creative.
Do you think one day you may relocate for your art?
That would be lovely, all things permitting. Obviously, I don’t want to uproot my daughter unnecessarily or cause any disruption for her, but if we could find the right place then fantastic!
One piece which jumped out at me whilst looking through your collection was a commission of a dog. Do you regularly take commissions and what are your favourite things you’ve done on request?
I tend to do one or two commissions a year, usually, a particular scene that someone loves. I’ve done some stunning houses but the dog does stand out, mainly because I don’t draw animals as a rule. The owner would not take no for an answer, though, and he did seem pleased with the result!
What size are most of your pieces and roughly how long would an average one take?
The majority would fit on a sheet of A4 paper, purely for reasons of practicality – they don’t take too long and they’re easy to scan. I would say an average piece takes between 12 and 24 hours of work – not in one sitting of course. I think the biggest piece I’ve done took around 45 hours.
Do you have any artistic influences, historical or contemporary, whose work you admire and draw from?
There are a lot of artists, past and present, whose work I love and admire but in terms of my work, I wouldn’t say I draw from anyone in particular. I think my style is closely aligned with classical children’s illustrators and also etchings – something which I have a passion for and would love to dedicate more time to.
Where can we see your work?
Currently, the best place is Instagram – @Karenhalseyillustration – beyond that I love to exhibit but the world being as it is currently we’re all unsure when that will happen next. I’m a member of Arundel, Arun, and Downland Art Societies and I would encourage everyone to stay up to date with their local Art Society so as to help support the industry in this new post-COVID world. I also produce my own cards featuring my illustrations – I was selling them in a farm shop which has unfortunately closed recently, but watch this space and perhaps you’ll be able to buy them elsewhere soon – maybe an online store?
Considering where this will be published it would be remiss of me to not ask- why do you use Lasermark for your framing?
Because I think they do a brilliant job. It’s that simple, they are great at what they do.
Karen, you’ve been great – thank you for your time.
Interview performed & written by Alex Norris