Monday, 3 February 2014

profile print society - karen johnston.


Karen Johnston of The Print Society

This week I am kicking off the first profile of 2014 with textile designer Karen Johnston of The Print Society. Bright, geometric and bold, Karen's screen printed designs are inspired by her travels, love of traditional textiles and joy of playing with shape and scale. Layered with lovely colours and trimmed with poms poms and fringing they're the perfect antidote for a dull couch. If you are keen to learn the ins and outs of screen printing Karen is launching courses later this year. I have been hankering to get my hands dirty and delve into screen printing and if I lived closer to Sydney I would definitely do a course through the Print Society and then venture further south and enroll in a class at the Harvest Workroom. For more details sign up to Karen's mailing list here.

How would you describe yourself:
Meticulous, aware, adaptable, optimistic, tenacious.
What was your childhood dream?
My childhood dream was to have my own newspaper.  I remember being at school and asking my friends to write stories that I could publish.  I have no idea how I thought I could actually produce my little newspaper, but I do recall trying to sell subscriptions!

What led you down your current path?
I was fortunate enough to have an exceptional art teacher in high school, who exposed me to many different forms of art and taught me a great deal about art history.  I can still remember the first screen print that I pulled on paper in that class, and the huge amount of instant satisfaction that I felt when I lifted the screen.
My tertiary studies were in fashion design, and later textile design where I honed my screen printing methods and skills.

What do you love most about what you do?
For me the love is in producing something tangible that will last forever.  I’m not just creating an idea or a process, I’m making pieces that people can touch and feel, and that I hope will take a lasting place in their homes.

Where do you feel most inspired?
In a quiet, cosy cabin during winter; overlooking mountain bushland.

Who do you admire?
Marina Abramovic is possibly the world’s most renowned performance artist.  Her determination and focus in incredibly inspiring.  “The Artist is Present” is a recent documentary that explores Marina’s life and practice.  Prepare to be amazed.

What challenges have you had to overcome?
I was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and needed nine months to recover.  Striving to be creative during that time was both a challenge and an absolute blessing.

What’s been a ‘pinch yourself’ moment?
I’m lucky enough to experience little ‘pinch yourself’ moments all the time.  It may sound corny, but every time a person subscribes to our mailing list, I feel humbled that people like what I’m doing and want to hear more.

What are your top four inspiring resources:
      * Art galleries – there is something about taking the time to stand still and study the elements of an artwork that I find both completely indulgent and inspiring.
      * Kinfolk and Anthology magazines – both of these titles have a sensibility that inspires me.  There is a quiet sense of enquiry to them both that encourages you to look at your surroundings in a different light.
      * Traditional ethnic textiles – I am a complete sucker for textiles from anywhere including India, Iran, Africa, Japan, the list goes on…the multitude of reference books in my library are proof of this.
  * I like moody music, and I love jazz, mainly instrumental stuff.  I think it’s the lack of lyrics that lets your imagination reach its own conclusion.  Creating new colour ways whilst listening to music is a must.

Do you have a dream creative project?
My dream creative project is to create large quirky works for public spaces that focus on social issues such as homelessness and cancer research.  I’m developing a plan for an idea at the moment that requires public interaction, which I hope will increase engagement with these causes.

What are you currently coveting in the world of design?
I’ve been hankering to get my hands on one of Tom Dixon’s cast copper Mini Jacks for quite some time now.  For me this object offers a piece of unbreakable and shiny nostalgia.

What’s next?
We’ve been working on the development of our own range of textile inks.  Coming very soon!

When the weekend rolls around what do you love to do?
Read Short Stories.  At the moment I’m reading Ranpo Edogawa’s “Japanese Tales of Mystery and Imagination”.
Watch Woody Allen films.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched ‘Annie Hall’
Cook  Pork and napa cabbage dumplings.
Create Experimental fabrics, using random materials.
Listen to Jazz with a glass of vino.
Dream about Taking a trip to Bhutan.
Look forward to The launch of our next collection!