Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Artist Interview: QARAQUL

Welcome to my July Artist Interview! My new interview takes me to Berlin, Germany, where I meet Katerina, a talented artist who works under her own brand QaraQul. She creates wonderful vibrant and colorful felted and nuno felted items that reflect her passion for life and love for color. As you know I have a passion for color, and another fascination of mine is with felt! So I was thrilled to know about a felter's inspiration, and as I love Katerina's wonderful work... here she is! Here she shares her artistic journey and inspiration with us!

First of all, Anna I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about felting and my work! 

- You currently live in Berlin, Germany. Where are you originally from?

I was born in Athens Greece. The first years of my life I lived on a Greek island. That I say because I think that period was the best of my life, since I had absolute freedom to run through the fields, to explore the mountains and to walk on the sea side. What many children today unfortunately can not enjoy!

- How did you choose the lovely name for your Etsy Shop, QaraQul?

I found it by accident before some years on the internet while I was searching different qualities of wool. QaraQul (Karakul) actually means “black lake” in many Turkish languages but also it specifies a breed of domesticated sheep in Central Asia. Honestly I like the sound of it!

- How did you first come to art and creativity? How did your journey in art and creativity begin?

The exact moment I can not really define! It came slowly! I remember I liked to paint a lot and to create/build forms in space from different useless material or whatever I could find in nature as a child. When the time came to choose what to study I chose graphic design and desktop publishing. Maybe it has also something to do with my family. My father also likes to paint and to create sculptures from wood as well as he likes music and plays 5 different musical instruments. Still sometimes he fascinates me with his abilities!

- Why did you choose felt as your particular medium of creative expression?

I came in touch with felting when I moved in Berlin, approximately 5 years ago. Here the people use wool in large quantities and also wear felted items. Probably has something to do with the climate. I was fascinated by the felting process. That was my first reason or let’s say what attracted me the most. When I created my first felted item I couldn’t believe it. I was staring at it for hours and it was only a double-coloured felted surface, not really a masterpiece…! But I was feeling so proud of it that I was telling to people about it. That was the start. With the time I realised that the felting process, when you are totally devoted, it has many similarities with meditation, something that I also like. The same happened to me when I was working with clay. However I didn’t go on with it, I chose felting. I don’t really know why!? Maybe because I like more the water than the earth element! I think that it fits me better!

- When and how did you realize this was your real and greatest passion?

Again this came with time. Of course from the start I liked felting therefore I went on with it. Every time that I was discovering something new about the technique I was totally spellbound and I was eagerly waiting for the next time that I will learn something more! So it was a process again and not exactly what we call “love from first sight”. I will differentiate it with the example of “loving somebody” and “being in love with somebody”. The first is a process which requires time, devotion, interest, care, constant involvement and many more. The latter is causing you a lot of excitement and stimulation; it is based a lot on the senses (sight, touch etc.) but it can go away as easily as it came! Not that there is something wrong with, it is just a different philosophy! The same happened with me and felting! We can say that we love each other more than we can say that we are in love with each other!:-)

- What are your main sources of inspiration?

Nature and music.

- How has life affected your art and art affected your life?

A very good question! It is indeed so. Life and art are interconnected and inseparable. I think life experiences are reflected on what I create. For example I remember while I was studying graphic design, I was in a phase in my life that I loved black colour. So I was dressed in black, I was painting in black, maybe I was thinking also in “black”; I cant really remember. Anyway, one day during the free drawing course (we had 2 choices to draw with pencils in black colour and carbon or to draw in colour with water colours) I chose once again carbon. Our teacher noticed that and he asked me: “Why again in black and white?” and added: “You have a good colour perception and you draw really fine also in colour!”. From that moment and on, like something hit me on the head, I started to use colours in abundance in every aspect of my life! This example I mention just to say that people and experiences in life for sure influence somebody’s worldview, perceptions, ideas and of course the ways that all these come together to be express on a piece of paper or through the creation of a necklace or a felted scarf!

- How does your home country influence your work?

Mmmmm… I never thought of it really! Probably the geographical diversity, meaning that there is this constant transition from fields to mountains, from sea to rocks, has affected my space perception but that it is not directly linked to my felted work, I think! However the variety and plenitude of colours that somebody can observe by travelling in the country side of Greece is mirrored on what I make!

- Art is about light and color! What are your favourite colors?

Honestly talking I love the whole colour spectrum. Believing that each colour alone gives completely different reflection than the combination of some of them or all of them together! However my two favourite colours are green and orange! I find both colours relaxing and pleasing to the eye. Also I like the concepts, ideas and cultural representations behind them. For example orange comes from red and yellow and it combines the traits of both colours, meaning energy, creativity, warmth, calmness as well as vitality and endurance. Orange it is said that reduces the aggressiveness of red and includes the warmth of the sun, of yellow. So if you think all the attributes of orange you will find out that is a totally balanced colour and easily could be used as a symbol of wisdom! Then it is not by accident that orange is strongly connected with Buddhism.

- Did you have a formal training in the arts or your medium or attend art courses?

As I mentioned before I have studied graphic design and desktop publishing and worked also in relevant fields! So I think these studies except of broadening my theoretical knowledge, helped me also practically to be able to use and combine colour and moreover to be able to imagine a form or a shape before I start actually working on it. Felting I learnt from some books and by doing! Experimentation is an important process and concept in every aspect of life!

- Do you have a studio or home studio or particular part of your home you have devoted to your artwork? Where do you create your artwork?

That question hurts!!! This period truly I do not have a place! I moved recently in a new flat in which I do not have the space that I need! In my previous flat I had a small place for felting but again it wasn’t enough. Soapy water was running throughout the flat!:-) But one of my plans is to create a space for felting like I want, practical, efficient and cosy! Full of wool!!!

Thank you dear Katerina for this wonderful and really inspiring interview! It was great to get to know more about your artistic journey and inspiration. I can really feel the passion and love for what you do, and your passion for life! We wish you continued joy, inspiration and success with your life and art.
You can find Katerina's colorful felted artwork in her Etsy shop QaraQul. And you can find out more about her work and her colorful world in her lovely and informative blog. Please read her detailed Profile with more about her background and inspiration.


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