Illustrator and fashion designer Karen Segall is on a mission to do things differently. Sick of an image-saturated world, she keeps her artwork dark and simple, creating something refreshingly beautiful. Her latest project, When was the last time you looked out at the water?, explores elements that constitute our everyday lives.
Where did the name for your latest exhibition come from?
I found it on a pillar at the harbour in Aarhus (Denmark), written in very clear hand writing, the paint almost washed off by the weather. All my feelings for my forth-coming project suited this title. The only thing I wanted to do was look across the water.
I needed to have time and not stress through a project, to not to try so hard to please the rest of the world. This time, I just listened to my heart and what I wanted to do. I focused on all the things I really like under the themes of food, joy, happiness, pleasure, and everything else that makes me feel good and happy.
Why is true craftsmanship so important to you?
True craftsmanship is an important element in the process of my work, from drawing pictures to creating 3D objects. If I can’t make things in the real way by hand, then I’m not supposed to do it.
I’m still practicing classic drawing, using my eyes to see how things really look and how all parts of an object are related to each other, like a massive puzzle. Using this technique, it’s possible to give a 3D perspective to a 2D drawing. When I don’t know how to draw something in a classic sense, I delve into my imagination. That creates some pretty interesting results. I also insist on making all my prints myself. It’s important to know the process of creating things from start to finish.
What inspires / influences you?
Humans, different cultures, things I find, movies I see, people I meet, feelings, colors in the sky, pictures, tactile surfaces, old Danish porcelain, magazines that are more like art books and traditional clothing. In the last couple of years, I’ve been very inspired by Danish folklore and old hand-painted Japanese kimonos.
What will the exhibition consist of?
Mostly of whole walls filled with pictures, sketches, weavings, a clown and a skeleton, combined with a huge bird mobile. I’ve also created a porcelain collection painted with things I like. There’s some patchwork carpets and digitally printed silk scarves too.
What is your typical day like in the run-up to your exhibition?
I am way too stressed to even think! I’m currently in that mental place where you think everything is shit, but you know that it’s not possible to make new stuff because you’re out of time. I know the only reason I end up there is because I have looked at everything far too much. I just need to let the world see it.
Your office is burning down – what do you save first?
I really don’t know! I own so much stuff I really love and adore. Maybe my wardrobe or shoe collection and illustrations? I own many books that would be worth saving too.
If you weren’t doing what you are doing now, what would you be up to?
I never had any other ideas of what I wanted to do, or things I though I was good at or liked to do. It’s been like this since I could hold a pair of scissors in my hand. My hobby is my job.
You can invite 5 famous people to your exhibition (dead or alive). Who are you bringing?
James Dean – the actor with a very nice car and a great attitude.
Eigil Knuth – an artist who joined an expedition to Greenland and wrote an amazing book about it.
Georges Nagelmackers – the guy who invented the Orient Express and made it possible to travel trough Europe.
Coco Chanel – the designer who made everyday wear fashionable and useful for all occasions.
Johannes Gutenberg – the guy that introduced Europe to the modern print technique and an all round great inventor.
Anything else you want to share with us?
Most of the exhibition will be shown in Berlin with a vernissage on the 1st of September in a cool shop called ‘Konk’ on Kleine Hamburger Strauss. Just after the show I will launch a unique one off collection on the ArtRebels webshop in conjunction with the exhibition.