Guest Artist Q+A: Karen Lynch

If you haven’t seen Karen Lynch’s works yet chances are you won’t be able to take your eyes of them anytime soon. Check out her interview below!

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Q: Where are you from?

Adelaide, South Australia

Q: When did you start collaging and when did you realise this was the style for you

I started doing collage in 2013 but only decided to seriously focus on it for the past two years.  In 2015 I joined in with The 100 Day Project, thinking I would do 100 days of different kinds of paper related art but it turned into 100 days of purely collage.

Q: Do you work on your art everyday or do you take little breaks?

After doing something like a 100 day project, and doing collage every day, you get into great creative habits and I’ve kept that up.  I do something pretty much every day. For me, the only way to improve, experiment with styles and techniques, is to practise.  There is a lovely story about the great art teacher Sister Corita Kent, who told her new students to go away and make 50 collages, and come back and show her the 50thone.  This is so true for me.  It’s only through the doing, experimenting and practice that you can find a style that suits you and discover and fine tune your skills.

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Q: How important is organisation and archiving found images? 

I think there are at least two or three schools of thought on this.  Some collage artists are “tearers” and have pages torn from books and magazines in heaps over their space.  Other’s seem to cut as they go. And of course, there are the super organised ones who have perfectly archived folders and drawers filled with cuttings sorted in subject matter or colour.  I think I’ve attempted all three methods at some stage.  As I have so much material, it tends to get crazy, so now I’m happy to just be able to group magazine titles together, and books by subject like space, plants or architecture, and then keep cut outs of people in separate little envelopes.  I’ve found if I pull too many pages out at once, they get damaged too easily, so it’s sometimes better to keep them flat and protected in their original place and just bookmark them with sticky note flags until I need them.

Q: What was the best found books and magazines that you’ll never forget?

Haha I’m not really gonna reveal my sources as there is only so much you can share to keep original!   My best finds have definitely been 1940s and 1950s books and magazines on things like New Zealand and world architecture, and Kodachrome tourist guides to various cities around the world.  You really have to get your hands dirty and search out good vintage materials by going to the dirtiest, most unorganised junk shops, secondhand stores, markets, garage sales and thrift stores to find treasure.  New collage artists often think there must be a magic URL that you’ll find a perfect 1951 beach scene but I can’t say I’ve found it! It’s taken me years to find reliable places to source my material.

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Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 years time? 

In 5 years time, I hope to be in the position of supporting myself as a full-time artist and designer. There are so many opportunities out there for collage artists like editorial work, album and book covers, apparel, event visuals and video collaborations to name a few. I’ve exhibited before and it’s not really something that drives me, although I usually say yes if it sounds like a good opportunity.  I find I don’t have the patience to do large scale works that gallery visitors prefer and professional framing for a show is so expensive for an artist.

Q: What challenges do you face as an artist and how do you find yourself to overcome them?

Originally I worked purely as an analogue artist, but after a lot of missed opportunities I realised I needed digital skills to give me more flexibility with my work so I was able to accept commissions that inevitably need revisions. These are extremely difficult, if not impossible to do if you’re solely analogue.  To overcome this, you learn to adapt.  Do photoshop tutorials.  Have a few one-on-one sessions with a professional graphic designer. Extend your skills so you can enhance your work.  Even though much of my work is analogue, more of it is becoming a hybrid of both analogue and digital techniques.

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Q: Do you think formal education for a career in Art is necessary? Have you studied outside of high school?

I’m sure it would be useful but it’s not the path I’ve followed. My tertiary education found me majoring in English Literature and Drama/Cinema Studies, and again in Horticulture. For me, it’s all about using your creativity, learning new skills and refining your techniques.  There are so many tutorials online and face to face classes you can be doing.  I’m currently playing with Adobe After Effects to get my head around animation, which is definitely one of the current and future trends that collage is slipping into.

 Q: Is it hard letting go over certain images for a collage you’ve been working on?

Not for me. I’m not too precious about any particular images, although if I’ve found something that is incredible, I often scan it before I take the scissors to it, just in case I destroy it.  People used to ask me whether I felt guilty about cutting up a 1954 Vogue magazine but I see it more as re-invention of beautiful but forgotten and neglected images that have been stored on a bookshelf or in a dusty garage.

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