Meet : Karmen Low

This week on MEET, I’m featuring Karmen Low. Karmen is a twenty-three year old designer in Grand Rapids and is so incredibly talented. Besides talent and great design, she’s also hilarious so enjoy this interview and take a look at her site and blog!

1. At what point in your life did you know you’d be an artist? It was probably in 3rd grade when I came home from school with a note from my teacher informing my mom that on that day’s spelling test, I chose to illustrate the spelling words instead of spelling them. That summer she enrolled me in a summer art class, and I remain to this day, a horrible speller.

2. Do you have another talent/passion/hobby? I had trouble thinking of an answer to this question…I work way too much…so I’m open to suggestions as to what my new hobby should be. Just don’t say knitting. Been there, done that. It wasn’t pretty. I do enjoy photography quite a bit. It’s refreshing how you can take a picture and it’s either a good shot or a bad shot…it’s not so subjective. Here is a shot from a series I began my senior year in college. It’s been well over a year since I started it, and I really don’t know if I’ll ever feel like the series is complete…but here’s a sampling.

3. Who has been the most encouraging person in your life? It has the be the classic 3 Ps. My parents, peers and profs. My parents have really empowered me to do what I love. My peers have always been so encouraging to me, while still challenging me to grow and stretch myself.  I owe a lot to them. And my professors have spurred me on when I was doubting that I had any business being in this profession in the first place. Many many thanks to all.

4. What inspires you? Truth (with a capital T), new freelance clients, running wild, caffeine, meeting new people with unfamiliar perspectives, furniture/interior/product design, joyful collaboration with great people. There can’t be great design without great ideas.

5. What medium still intimidates you? Painting makes me shake in my boots. And wedding photography gives me cold sweats. I photographed my first (and last…) wedding this summer for a friend. Hats off to all you wedding photographers out there…you are far braver than I am. Here are some of my favorites from the weekend.

6. What artistic trend do you dislike? Grunge. Ack.

7. What has been your favorite piece of someone else’s art up until this point in your life? If I had to pick one…it would be Accession II by Eva Hesse.

8. Do you design full-time? If so- where and what has that experience been like? Right now I’m at Cornerstone University in GR as a designer. This job has challenged me in very unexpected ways. It’s broadened my knowledge base to include not only designing totally rad stuff, but also a fair amount of marketing, pre-press, strategy and branding — all in all, pretty useful stuff. I also volunteer on occasion as a masked super-villian whose sole purpose is to bring about the utter demise and annihilation of IE — one useless toolbar at a time. Or maybe that would make me a super-hero…

9. Do you think you have a specific style? What is that style and do you see yourself evolving out of that anytime soon? Well, first, I’m a serial dabbler. My job and degree are for graphic design, but I also do a lot of photography and web stuff on the side. When it comes to design, I’m completely gaga for design that makes you slap yourself in the forehead and say “why didn’t I think of that?” I don’t get to see/do that very much in my day-to-day groove, so when I do, it’s a treat.

My preference always seems to lean towards the simple, thoughtful, crafted, minimalistic, typography-driven. I truly believe in the mantra “form follows function”. Decoration can have function, but it can also detract. I always try to envision the setting in which my pieces will be experienced before I even put pen to paper. Good design is so logic-driven that if you don’t begin with the expectation of function and appropriateness, you’re kind of doomed. If you communicate what you need to say in the simplest way possible, then you’re off to a really good start.

April 27, 2010