Friday, September 5, 2014

Artist Hope Wallace Karney

Art journal page created by Hope Wallace Karney

In my last post with Amy Huff, I described an artistic retreat known as Silver Bella, founded by Teresa McFayden, that is now sadly extinct.  This is also the place where I first came upon the likes of Hope Wallace Karney: graphic designer, web designer, layout designer for publications (an example of which is Heather Bullard's magazine, Souvenir, pictured below), blogger, art journaler, photographer and collage artist.

Example of one of Hope's Souvenir magazine layouts

When I met Hope, I had my first twinge of artistic envy.  Being new to the creative scene, I didn't recognize the green-eyed monster sitting on my shoulder as we sat down for lunch with a group of women. Hope seemed to know e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e at Silver Bella, and ladies would walk by (who were the superstar bloggers in the industry or the top teachers) and she'd clap her hands and say, "There's so and so. She's a client."  Without conceit she said these things, she was merely excited to see her clients and help promote them.  Clients she now considered friends.

Example of one of Hope's Web Designs for Bittersweet Designs

Another Site Hope created for Artist Lori Oles

First on my list of things I want to know about someone when I interview them is what was the first project they did that lit a spark. It could be something that happened in your childhood, and was later forgotten.  For Hope, she used to make collages on poster board when she was young.  Clipping words and pictures and putting them together. Her niece, who is 10 years younger, and more like a sister to her, remembers Hope incorporating her into this activity. Her niece thinks it's funny now that those collages are how Hope makes a living.

One of my favorite Art Journal spreads by Hope

Hope abandoned this craft as she grew up and started her career. But one day, a co-worker asked if she wanted to go to a rubber stamping group at her church.  Since she was new to town and didn't know anyone, she went and found one piece of vintage sheet music.  With no desire to stamp, she played with that sheet of paper the entire time; cutting it, trying to shape it into things, and staring at it.  The next day, she went to an antique store and bought a box of vintage paper for $5.00 and got busy.  Her collaging skills ignited again, and since she already had a blog, she slowly started sharing her collages with her online community.  Next thing, people started to encourage her and there were offers to buy them, but she wasn't really selling them (yet).  She started thinking about things she could make with them and decided to create some postcards and greeting cards.  When one of her postcards was featured in Mary Engelbreit's magazine, Home Companion, there was more demand for her product.  She took the next step and built her own website (because back then there was no Etsy to sell your stuff).  

I love her use of this vintage women and how her skirt has a fold-out to more hidden wording

She'd print out her cards on a quality printer at her work, with her own premium paper, before the office opened, and pack all her orders before the work day commenced.  She was working full-time as a tech project manager for medical data (yes, really). One day, an artist who had a high-traffic blog, called her to ask if she would design her website for her.  Hope said what a lot of self-taught creatives think, "But I don't design websites for other people."  This girl was persistent and kept asking.  Finally, Hope said, "Well, okay, I'll try it, and we'll see how it goes."

Examples of some of Hope's Postcards and Greeting Cards

Her educational background was technical, not design-oriented. Yet, after the design of this one blog, more artists started calling her to build their websites and their blogs. With her current job, she found herself sobbing on her way to work in the morning, and finally got the courage to quit and look for a design job.  When she applied for 3 different design jobs, and it came down to her and one other designer for the position, she had an awakening.  Rather than lamenting that she could not get hired, she realized if I can get to be a finalist with 3 different jobs, having no formal education, I can do this myself.

I remember leaving Silver Bella and going to the blogs of artists I connected with at the retreat and I swear every one that I liked was designed by Hope.  When I wanted a new look for this blog, I hired her, then hired her again to do my business website, and my business cards.  We never met in person to do this (she lives in Maryland), but did it all by phone.  She asked me to make a Pinterest board of images I loved and describe what I loved about them and answer a few questions, and then created this.  

Example of my business website that Hope designed

This is a talent I cannot begin to comprehend.  When I asked her how do you do this, she said:
I love getting to know people.  I treat every client's site as a personal challenge to put the person in the web presence.

Hope has an app she created, numerous online journaling and hand-lettering classes that you can buy and take, and teaches at art retreats nationwide.  I've taken several of her online classes, and I covet her hand-lettering so much that I asked her to use it when she designed my Little Lucy and Scooter blog.

Picture of Hope's App - Nostaglic Musings

When I asked her where she gets the confidence from to try new things, this was my favorite part of interviewing her.

Confidence comes because I have the Internet as my shield. It's easy to change who you are behind the computer.  I find myself comfortable sharing myself online and that helps me explore new things.  I taught various types and levels of computer classes at a previous job. That might be a reason I started the online journaling courses. When live teaching opportunities have come my way, I take them because I like getting out of the house.  But I never actively look for them.

What are her creative rituals? 
Doesn't have any.  "I can journal anywhere - in the doctor's office, the airport, it doesn't matter. When an idea strikes, I'm writing."

Favorite TV shows or movies visually? 
Anything set, in the 1800's; "Game of Thrones" for the sets and scenery; "Doctor Who," "Outlander" (which was also chosen by Amy Huff in my last interview - people watch this!); the Sherlock movies with Robert Downey, Jr.; and "Penelope" for the time frame and visual scenes. [NOTE:  I ask this question more for my own selfish benefit, dear reader, as watching something visually is a way for me to turn my monkey brain from 'writing mode' to something normal.  It helps me recharge.]

Your studio is messy or organized?
"It's either completely messy or completely organized.  It gets too messy, and before I will let myself create, I'll clean it too perfection, and then mess it all up again when I get going."

Tell me about your furry friends.  
She has 2 hounds: Tuala, her 12 year old beagle who is timid, and Milly, her 3 year old dachshund that rules the world.

Funniest thing she said to me?  
Well, it was hard to pick one.  "My dog, Tuala, loves to lick old paper, which she taught to our other dog, Milly.  I sometimes worry they're going to die from it like in that episode of "Seinfeld," where George's finance dies from licking the gum on the envelopes for their wedding invitations.  I could see my beloved vintage Dennison labels being the culprit."

If that doesn't sum up the essence of why Hope is the-kind-of-girl I'd love to meet weekly for coffee, I'm not sure what would.  I love the stories of self-taught artists and hope you get inspiration from it today.

And this is Hope.

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