Australian artist Karen Lynch used to be a horticultarist. Finding a love for collage art as well as photography and creative writing, she transformed her life into Leaf and Petal Design, where she multitasks personal projects alongside commissioned pieces. Most of her collages feel like intergalactic botanical gardens, often with groups of people at the pool or at the beach, perhaps climbing up a mountain, all the while outer space is full of new moons, ringed planets, and cosmic waterfalls. I spoke with the talented artist via email and asked her a few questions about her craft, her history, and her future moving forward.
How has the year been treating you so far?
This year has been crazy good for me. Some incredible and diverse opportunities have come my way including album covers, event visuals, TV commercials, advertising campaigns and heaps of magazine and book inclusions.
What's the art scene like in your city?
Adelaide has a massive art community, from street art to galleries. We are currently in the middle of a huge community based visual arts festival called SALA (South Australian Living Artists) where over 6,000 artists exhibit across 660 free exhibitions across the State. It is a really positive, supportive community, even though collage isn’t really well known here.
How long have you been making collages?
I started around 2014 and then in 2015 I participated in the worldwide “100 Day Project” and I chose to do collage 100 days straight, became obsessed and the rest is history.
What's the origin behind your name/moniker?
I used to be a horticulturist so “leaf and petal” followed on from there.
Outside of collage art, do you have any other creative interests?
I’ve been really focussed on collage art but in the past I’ve done a lot of photography and creative writing. I wrote a personal blog for a few years which featured quite a bit of my photography, poetry and short story writing.
Do you create every day or does it come in waves?
What are some studio essentials? (instruments, programs, music, caffeine, etc.)
Up until about 12 months ago, I was strictly analog so it was all about the scissors, paper and glue. Now my stuff is usually a hybrid of analog and digital especially since I do quite a few commissioned projects that require revisions and flexibility in the design. I have a shiny new iMac with Photoshop for the digital side. I listen to a really diverse range music, pretty much everything. Coffee definitely. The most important thing is my library of primary sources. I have 100s of vintage magazines and books for inspiration and to start the creative process.
Your pieces are obviously surreal and, at times, intergalactic. Do you read sci-fi/surreal literature at all?
Yeah I do but can’t say I have any favourite authors.
What's the rest of the year looking like for you?
I’m currently working on a few secret projects that I can’t wait to share. There will also be more album art released soon, and my artwork will appear in a book in the new year. An art show later in the year. I’ve also been looking at co-hosting some collage workshops and video teaching.
I know you've done album art in the past, and plenty of commission work, but do you plan to release any 'larger' projects of your own? For example, rather than one-off pieces, do you plan on a book or a zine down the road?
I’m currently working on my limited edition calendar for 2018. I’ve made a few booklets of my designs in the past but only very small print runs, more for promotional purposes than anything serious.
Do you have any advice for fellow collage artists working on their craft?
No. 1 piece of advice is to get your hands dirty and go looking for great source material. There is no magic URL or eBay store to get your material from. You have to actively search for it and plough through a lot of rubbish to find quality elements. Then practice, practice, practice. Set aside time every day to do something creative. Experiment with different styles until you find something that suits you.
Do you have any final thoughts / words of wisdom? Thank you!
The best thing you can do is surround yourself with like minded supportive people, whether it be through an on-line or local community group of creative minds. The collage community, particularly on Instagram, is very welcoming and generous. Things are so much easier when you have genuine creative connections to other artists and art lovers. Positive vibes nurture inspiration and creativity.