The featured artist this week is Karyn who sells her colorful, hand painted bottle caps in her shop, SomewhatHip. Karyn is a self taught artists who experiments in many media, including pencil, paint, ceramic, paper and computer graphics. In her own words, Karyn describes her background and inspirations that led to these fabulous pendants:
A Shop is Born
I'm currently working on my Ph.D. at the University of Toronto, where I do cancer drug delivery research with a lab that makes new materials for medical applications. Although I'm studying engineering, I like to indulge my artsy side. When my friend Rio introduced me to Etsy, I was immediately hooked. Curious about my shop name? A few years ago, an employee of the school of graduate studies contacted my supervisor to ask for recommendations for students to star in a recruitment video for UofT. The selection criteria - "we're looking for graduate students who are photogenic, articulate, and somewhat hip." Apparently I fit the bill, and the rest is history...
I like to create things that people don't see every day. For me, the best part about handmade items is their uniqueness - a quality that can never be mass produced. I'm inspired by many offbeat things. I would say I got my start in grade 8 art class, where I first produced a portrait of a girl that actually looked like the girl - by drawing a grid on the original, and drawing each square while blocking out the rest of the sketch. I also learned a lot about form in a high school drafting class. This taught me about proportion and perspective. I also learned a lot about sketching through biology classes by looking through a microscope and sketching without seeing the page. I've also been designing personalized Christmas ornaments for my friends and family for the past 15 years, using fabric paint and a curved surface, which has given me speed and a more practiced and steady hand. And to prove that inspiration really does come from everywhere, the original idea to paint names and designs onto Christmas ornaments came from watching Days of Our Lives in high school. I'm almost embarrassed to share that...
My latest obsession is collecting up our bottle caps after drinking with friends, and transforming them into miniature pieces of art. Each of my bottle cap pendants is painted freehand. They were originally inspired by a pendant my sister bought me for my birthday, which was a hand decorated domino. I thought it was pretty amazing that it still retained so much of its original form, even though it had been completely transformed. I'm also collecting some beautiful and unique stones and beads to launch a wire wrapped jewelry line, which is coming to my shop very soon.
I'm inspired by a diverse set of things. I am greatly influenced by color. Sometimes I just mix paints or think about color combinations and think about how I can use them together. Song lyrics often capture my attention, and I will think about what they mean to me, and how they translate visually. I am also highly influenced by things that I see. I'm an avid amateur photographer, which is a hobby that trains you to focus on objects that normally go unseen or unanalyzed. I'm usually the only person that people know who has broken cameras because of too many shutter actuations. Usually the image count (beginning with 0001) has to reset itself 2 or 3 times before it gets to this point.
The events that have triggered designs are fairly disconnected. The sliced kiwi was inspired by a mural in a fast food restaurant in Barcelona called Pans, that had many foods in cross section. The goldfish was a request from my other sister, and so I drew him based on a pet goldfish we used to have. The water lily is based on a marsh boardwalk in Point Pelee national park, which is the southernmost mainland tip of Canada. The dragon is a portrait of a kite I purchased in a market in Bali, after my best friend from Vancouver got married in Singapore. The cherry blossom design is one I made for my best friend in Toronto, who really admired blocky industrial pendants we saw in a courtyard in Montreal. My mom also helped me a lot by giving me her signature paint brush many years ago - it's the thinnest brush I own, as it is normally used to sign a name on a painting, so it demands precision and fine lines - I'll bet she never guessed what I'd ultimately use it for.
I recently purchased one of Karyn's bottle caps to use in my next design. I'll share more about how Karyn's and other artists in this series influenced my design in a future post. Karyn's pendants are even more stunning in person. If you'd like to learn more about Karyn and see more of her work you can find her at: