We visited Karen Murray, Illustrator and designer of A Rose Cast in the heart of Belfast. Karen describes herself as an ‘all around nerd, bibliophile, lover of all things pretty and cat slave’ who ha an impressive talent for creating magical pieces, from art prints and stationery, to jewellery and homewares ~ sold both online and in physical stores, including the wonderful Studio Souk in Belfast city centre.
Q: What makes your product unique?
A: Everything I create is hand-painted with watercolours and lined in pencil in my own particular style, heavily influenced by Art Nouveau. I love to create soft and playful paintings of strong girls with unusually coloured hair (my own hair is always dyed pink), piercings and tattoos, and often adorn stationery and jewellery with these portraits. I also have a sideline of cute animal pieces, largely based on my own three cats.
Q: What inspires you as an artist/maker?
A: Seeing other people following their dreams and being able to follow a career and support themselves doing what they love. it gives me a lot of hope. Also, watching the joy other people have when they fall in love with a maker-made piece and spend their money on it and not another mass-produced item.
Q: How did you get started?
A: I was a web designer for around 10 years before I started my illustration and design business. Web design was becoming more about usability and coding and less about making something pretty. I realised if I wanted to focus on my creativity, I needed to move to an industry where the main purpose was to create nice looking objects. So I worked hard for a while at the web design, saved some money, and then struck out last December in this new career direction.
Q: Why do you think it’s important to keep local?
A: Especially in Northern Ireland, we have a severely underfunded arts industry. It is very important to support our local artists and makers as they have a harder time than in most other parts of the UK and Ireland, despite the fact they brilliantly support our economy. And after the troubles of the past in NI, they help to encourage a cultural identity that belongs to everyone.
Q: What motto do you live/work by?
A: “Be inspired by other’s success – not defeated.” I think the little guys, small creative and local businesses, need to support each other rather than compete. Our items tend to be on a lower price point, so our customers aren’t limited to just buying an item from one of us.
Visit www.arosecast.com to see a full gallery of Karen’s work.