Artist Interview: Karen Nicol (Information for my Research Essay and Assignments four and five)

Her explorative ways are to be admired and I have already documented her work within my research folders for this course.  However to further educate myself for my research essay, I wanted to ask her a few direct questions.  Like many artists, she has work online which has been simply titled, without much explanation.  I emailed her with a few questions, which she has kindly answered:  (My questions are in bold italics)

Why do you personally feel the need to create art and textile work?

Goodness knows, I’m driven by something…can’t seem to stop and it makes me happy

Are there any current artists who you compare yourself with?


What is your personal approach to textiles, why do you create and make pieces in the way you do?

I like to be irreverent with embroidery but that has come with working many years in fashion and trying to do things quickly so it’s not priced out of the market…the holy grail being a marriage of speed and looking good. Now that’s just the way I work…I like to try to paint with the stitch I suppose

Do you feel that because you have this practice as a job, that it has become more of a career than an art form?

I always think of myself as a designer rather than an artist…my art is me designing art….

Over the years, has your work and approach to it changed at all?

Constantly you need to be able to bob and weave as the market dictates

Over the years, has technology become a tool you use more and more?  I.E. Instagram as advertising and a vehicle for showcasing your work.  Do you view your posts as art forms themselves?

I do quite enjoy putting things on Instagram and the magic of instant response from across the world, find it quite staggering but I don’t think I’ve ever got any work from it.

Obviously when working in the arts and not simply having it as a hobby, money must be made.  Do you feel that you have the balance between this and changing the textiles world by making ground breaking work?

I think working in industry the way I do the way to make money is to try to constantly make ground breaking work.

What constitutes success to you?

Someone offering me a great job/commission, I get really excited

What values do you define as most important?

Diversity, flexibility, experimenting, trying to break the mould, thinking outside the box

How do you feel about the Fine Art v Textiles debate?

I have battled it forever and dislike it intensely however I have been to Frieze art fair every year for the last six years and every year there is more and more textiles as a medium…often not by textile trained people though….Textile people ( like myself ) live in the constant danger of getting swamped by process and the feeling that the ‘cleverer’ and more time something takes the better it is …big mistake, until they ( and me)  just look at it as another medium to make art with the better…


How will I use the above findings?

My research essay has already begun its form.  I chose to ask her questions which relate to it.  Thus her answers will form a part of my folder for the essay and I may use quotes within the essay text.

As regards using her work as an influence within Assignments four and five, I respect her use of many techniques, thus she becomes a vital example to follow.  I can turn to her work images to be inspired, not so much by the subject matter, but by the lack of fear and thirst to convey as many techniques as possible.  Her book Embellished helps in this regard, which I am currently in the process of hiring.  Which techniques of hers may I try?  How and where do they fit in with my themes and research I have worked on so far?

A separate post will deal with this.



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