Hi Karen, tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
I am currently based out of Long Beach, CA - freshly relocated this year from Philadelphia, PA. I went to Parsons School of Design in New York City for product design, and after graduating I started a career working as a home decor designer. I was never really satisfied with working for other people and I was always making work at home in my free time - never really with the intention of it becoming more than a hobby. I was relocated to Philadelphia for a new position in 2014 and suddenly had more space and time to explore my personal work. I started making ceramics again and it sort of naturally combined itself with the textile work that I had been doing since college.
I was building my business for 2 years while also working full time as a designer until I finally quit my job in 2016. The past two years working full time as an artist have been a roller coaster - my work has grown in ways that I have never imagined and I've probably learned more (good and bad lessons) than in my 7 years as a designer.
Describe your style as an artist. What medium do you use?
I use a combination of ceramics and fibers in all of my work. The best way to describe my style would be organic - I like to use curvy, soft shapes and irregular geometries to create forms that are perfectly imperfect.
Where do you find inspiration?
I am first and foremost inspired by the materials and the techniques that I use in my pieces. For example, the coil basket technique (which has become somewhat of a signature for me) is something that I have been doing since the beginning, but with each piece I try to challenge myself to evolve it in shape or application. In terms of outside influences - I'd say that I am most inspired by architecture, sculpture, and textures/colors found in nature, so I'm always trying to get out and get inspired even if it's just a walk around my neighborhood.
What’s a typical workday look like for you? Tell us about your process.
Running a business by myself means each day is slightly different. Usually part of every day is reserved for the boring, less glamorous office tasks associated with running a business, so I try to get those out of the way first thing and then dive into creative work for the rest of the day.
I organize my days so that I'm only working on either fiber or ceramic work - never both in one day so that I can properly focus on the medium. Each day I try to complete the list I set up for myself because I have so many deadlines associated with my work - ceramic production alone has 4 steps: building the greenware, bisque firing, glazing, and glaze firing, and then I add on fiber application on top of that. Staying on my production schedule is crucial so that I can keep up with wholesale, one of a kind, and stock production, so that usually means long hours and doing something work-related every day of the week. However, this year it's my goal to slow down and more breaks to enjoy my new city.
What does your workspace look like? Do you work from home or in a studio.
Describe your space and personal style within it.
I work from home, which is where I feel most inspired. My workspace is designed for function with materials and stock organized around me. When I am designing a new collection I will typically have an inspiration board going with sketches and images, but other than that I try to keep the space clear of visual clutter. The rest of my home is very similar, I like to keep it minimal with a combination of new pieces and family heirlooms. My boyfriend and I have both inherited a lot of interesting pieces from our families and from our friends who make art, so we try to let those meaningful pieces shine.
Who are some of your favorite artists? Musicians? People that inspire you?
As I mentioned before I'm really inspired by architecture - recently Richard Meier and Oscar Niemeyer have been my favorites. In terms of artists, Jay DeFeo has been top of my list for a while.
Where can we see and/ or purchase your art?
My work is available on my website: www.karentinney.com where you'll also find a list of stockists where my work is available.
What are the next steps in your career?
I've been expanding my categories slowly (this year I added mirrors and small tables to my existing collection of wall sculptures and vases) so I plan on continuing to do that - pushing the limits of the materials that I work with. I'm also planning to take on more custom projects and commissions.