At FOR ART'S SAKE, we always love seeing artists create with different types of media, like Patrick Keohane, the handmade collage artist who created a series of FAS collages for us. This week, artist Karen Goins produced three fantastic sketches of some of our editorial images, painting with Copic markers! Read on to discover how she came to painting with markers, and how having a focus on eyewear has opened up incredible opportunities for her.
Firstly, let's get to know you as an artist. What is your creative background, and how did you come to do what you do today?
Since childhood, my constant interest has been art. I was always sketching, doodling, coloring, or making things with my hands. I discovered painting in middle school and I just continued to work in various mediums all throughout my youth. I have a BA and MFA in Fine Arts/Painting. For a few years, I taught art courses at The University of Hawaii, exhibited extensively throughout the US and was even represented by a gallery. I simplified my life after I moved to Asia, and for a decade I stopped making art. I was then inspired to create again and happened to randomly discover markers.
What does an average work day look like for you?
After I discovered markers, I was kind of a maniac. I began with BIC and sharpies and later discovered Copic markers. These markers all work differently, and I just wanted to figure them out. I literally sketched for hours everyday. I never got tired of them because I was learning and teaching myself ways to figure things out to get what I want. Maybe I was trying to make up the years I spent away from the studio, who knows. It was fun and addicting. Now, my days are relatively the same, but instead of maybe three studies, I just sketch one portrait a day.
How did you come to use markers as your medium? What do you like about using them?
I discovered markers pretty much by accident. I was in the states at the art store and wanted something portable and easy to use. What I love about markers is that it is so accessible and I can take them anywhere. I don’t need the space or the countless materials to maintain a proper studio. What is even more wonderful about them is that I feel like I’m painting. I use primarily Copic Markers, and they are truly practical and low maintenance. When my marker dries out, I simply refill them. When the nibs or tips wear down, you just replace them. The only major downside is that it isn’t necessarily cost efficient because they are an investment.
You have a lot of engaged followers on Instagram. How has social media played a role in your practice?
Social media hasn’t really influenced my practice so much. My aim was never to attain a massive following. I’ve really been very fortunate. If anything, I am more selective with what I put on my account now. I do the same routine daily. I select all my references from IG and many times, I don’t know the sitter. Sometimes they are famous, and other times random models, and maybe they are everyday people to individuals in the optical world. I just sketch what I find visually interesting and attractive. Fashion and eyewear are synonymous, so much of my sources are from fashion based accounts.
And you have a focus on drawing people in different kinds of eyewear! Which is quite nice and niche. Why the focus on eyewear?
Yes, my account is riddled with eyewear. The reason why I got back into creating art is due to my specific interest in eyewear. I collect both vintage and contemporary designs. Funny enough, before I started my artwork, my account was full of eyewear selfies from my collection.
Has having a niche subject matter helped with building a loyal Instagram following? Do you find a lot of your followers are eyewear fanatics?
What has been so wonderful with Instagram, is that it truly does connect people. When my account began, I didn’t really know what my platform was or why I was even doing it. But when I began to focus more on my eyewear collection, it clicked for me. As insane as it sounds, it is because of Instagram I met my favorite eyewear designer Selima Salaun of Selima Optique in Japan. She literally is the one who rekindled my creative spark back into making artwork. Selima is a major inspiration. When my account shifted focus to my artwork a fews years back, it drew a deeper following of eyewear fanatics and even eyewear designers. Just last year, I attended the Vision Expo in NYC. Selima used my sketches of her eyewear as the backdrop for her new collection. She even designed a frame and named it after me!!! Needless to say, it can’t get any better than that!! The experience was amazing and I was able to meet other incredible designers and even people I have sketched and currently follow on Instagram.
What would you say to other artists who want to build their following on Instagram?
Your Instagram account is your vision. It should literally be an extension of who you are. I can only speak for myself and why I follow other accounts on Instagram. I follow other artists and designers because I believe in their work as much as they believe in their own passion and their world. So, maybe my advice would be is simply be honest with what you do and hopefully others will believe you and follow.
Finish this sentence: The best kind of image is _________.
I would say, “an unexpected one”. The reason I say this, is because you have to be on your toes to keep people interested. We live in an insanely fickle world, people get tired and bored so easily. The idea of the next best thing, or something different is always attractive and peaks the minds of people. So, even though I can choose eyewear as my subject matter, I try to keep evolving as an artist or do something different. I don’t want to be boring and predictable because I have a specific platform. This is why, I sketch a rainbow of people and artistically shift mediums or what have you…some have said I put myself in a box, but I try to make my box as colorful as possible.
At For Art's Sake, we have a set of core values that inform our day-to-day work. Summed up, we aim to bring happiness to those around us, we are honest with our work, and we always strive to be remarkable. What values are most important to you?
I admire those same values. I like fashion, but it is unfortunately dictated by first impressions. However, saying that, my work is nothing serious. I don’t have an agenda regarding fashion, I just want to add a little bit of fun into someone’s everyday life in a creative way.
And lastly, which pair of FAS sunglasses are your fave?!
TOP GUN…it’s fun interpretation of the classic aviator. Win Win for me!!