In today’s Partner Spotlight, we talked with Karen Tarlton about her artistic process and influences. Karen is a talented artist, mother, and military spouse with 30 years of marriage. She has developed a global online following for her whimsical animals, textural florals, landscapes, and cityscapes. Inspired by her travels and the work of master painters like Van Gogh and Picasso, she uses oil and a palette knife to create emotionally honest, boldly colored, and impressionistic works that often border on the abstract. Her art is also featured on various products through licensing agreements with companies such as Dianoche Designs, available on platforms like One King’s Lane, Amazon, Wayfair, Joss and Main, and Walmart. To ensure the highest quality prints for her customers, Karen has partnered with Lumaprints as her trusted print provider.
- Can you describe your art and your art style?
My paintings take on a multi-dimensional form and are recognized for their use of heavy-texture and bold colors to emphasize nature’s spontaneity and beauty in a modern, abstract way. I use mostly oil and palette knife and sometimes mixed media and I would describe my style as impressionistic, loose, bold and colorful.
- Can you walk us through your creative process from start to finish?
When I get a jolt of creative energy, just have to make it spontaneously, and my vision just comes. I can’t really walk anyone through it really. I just lay all the products out that I have to work with and the white canvas turns colorful quickly.
- Who or what drives you to create your art and share them to the world?
Not a sole. I think if you are a maker, you make, and if your product is special then there will be interest. I certainly get more driven when there someone loves it so that can be a motivator. Originally my goal was to paint everyday and sell each painting. When that happened, I expanded my goal.
- How do you handle creative blocks or challenges in your work?
I don’t think artists will have blocks if they keep an interesting life. Travel, be active, see things and creativity comes.
(In other words, stop procrastinating)
- Can you describe how your artistic journey began and the moment you decided to turn your passion into a source of income?
My journey began as a child. I kept a journal as a youth filled with drawings and writings. In college, I wasn’t encouraged by parents to study art but minored in it anyway, and majored in Managerial Economics. I actually think the degree helped me later on with the business side of things but I did need to study with folks to learn to paint. I needed to learn how to handle the oil paint, mix colors, prepare my canvas etc. Once I learned, that was the moment I decided to make it a career.
- Can you discuss the challenges and successes you’ve experienced while turning your art into a sustainable source of income?
Challenges early, mainly, dealing with galleries and showing my work and not making a big profit for all the work. Some of that was exciting and fun but I really was surprised and delighted with the online art world and all the reach. It’s been fun sending paintings off everyday to art lovers all over the place.
- What measures do you take to protect your intellectual property and copyright as an artist with a growing brand?
The copyright thing is pretty complicated but artist own rights to what they make so I mark it as such. You make it, you have copyright of the image, but if you put a high resolution image out there online, someone can steal it and there’s not much you can do especially if the pirate is out of the country, so I list low resolution images only if possible.
- What advice would you give to emerging artists who aspire to build a successful brand and monetize their creative talents?
I wish I had the answer to that. I don’t know, if you have a passion, make your art and put it out into the world. If you keep doing it, I swear something will happen to launch you.
- Do you have a preferred method for sourcing art supplies and materials, and how do you negotiate pricing and quality with suppliers?
I’m loyal to my suppliers that have been good to me. Over the years I’ve found art suppliers I like and great quality and pricing.
- How do you handle pricing your artwork? What factors do you consider when determining the value of your pieces and what pricing strategies do you employ?
I think a new artist, will start out rather low and over the years as you build a following and reputation and expertise, you raise your prices. I just price my work where I feel comfortable selling it for the quality it is, and the many years of painting it has taken to be able to create that piece.
- What challenges have you faced in managing the business side of your art career, and how have you overcome them?
I’m super lucky that my husband has been my advisor over the years. Together we manage everything super easily. He’s awesome.
- What social media platforms have you found to be the most effective for artists, and how do you tailor your content to each platform’s audience and format?
I really am not a fan of social media but I think it’s helpful for the business part of what we do. I try to post on IG daily but I don’t know how truly helpful it is with sales. Probably some though. I am not the best at that though, but I try.
- How do you engage with your followers and build a sense of community around your art on social media?
I just talk to them! I don’t know, just respond and answer questions. Folks that follow artists are all pretty nice so it’s not hard to engage.
- Do you have a content calendar or posting schedule for your social media accounts, and how do you decide what and when to post?
No calendar, I just try and post daily in the morning.
- What advice do you have for emerging artists who are just starting to build their presence on social media and want to market their art effectively?
Post daily, interesting reels and posts and probably if social media is your way of selling you need to advertise. I’m on Etsy so I don’t heavily worry about social media.
- Lastly, do you have any advice for young artists inspiring to be an established artist like you?
Start everywhere. From small outdoor venues, to coffee shops and galleries. Online everywhere. The more you are seen the better, especially if you have a great product.