This week I'm honored an excited to share the story of one of my favorite artists, Karina Bania. Her work is earthy, minimalistic, and filled with energy and movement. I discovered her work while exploring the #100dayproject on Instagram, and was just instantly drawn in. Read on to find out all about her and her process.
Everyone takes a different path to starting their own business. How did your business begin?
I grew up in a house filled with art. My parents collected paintings and sculptures from the places they lived around the world. Some of my first memories were standing in front of huge paintings trying to see forms in the abstraction. I began painting very young. Each week I went to an art class at a studio where I was the only child surrounded by adults. I remember so well the smell of linseed oil, the slanted afternoon light and the hum of adult conversations; I loved it. I continued painting on and off throughout my adolescence and after college began traveling and living abroad for many years. I studied art on the road, in small studios, and from people I met throughout Europe, India, Sri Lanka and Asia. When I returned home, I worked in a number of creative jobs, while painting on the side. More and more, I began by selling my work through art shows and local shops. As my business grew, I started licensing my work,taking commissions, exhibiting in group shows, selling online,and using social media to expand my reach.
Your recent mixed media abstract work is earthy and full of energy. What drew you into this painting style?
One of the most fascinating things about creativity is watching your work and ideas change and progress throughout time. Styles shift, colors are favored, series begin and end, but at the center of the art, is always you. If you have found your truth in expression, there is something that speaks the same voice throughout all your work, even as your preferences change. My paintings are very much tied to the earth. Land and sea, desert and mountains; these are the spaces that surround me, quiet me and move through me with their simple lines, color and energy. I spend a lot of time at our home in Mexico, where life moves slowly. We live by the sea and mountains, in uncrowded, open nature. It’s like a meditation, I am drawn to the stillness of the land that surrounds the busyness of life. That contrast and the opposing energies of stillness and movement, emptiness and fullness, has always inspired my work.
I followed along in your journey through the 100 Day Project on Instagram. What inspired you to start, and did you find it beneficial?
I had followed Elle Luna on her first 100 Day Project a few years ago and knew that it was something that I wanted to do. I loved the idea of committing yourself to creating everyday, which is something that I’ve always struggled with. I sensed that the habit of painting daily would take my studio practice and artwork to the next level. I was right. Participating in the 100 Day Project was the best thing I have done for myself. It was very challenging and I didn’t keep the exact pace, but I finished, and more than that, I grew. One of the challenges for me, was the loss of time to reflect on my work and where it was going. But on the flip side, one of the greatest benefits was the loss of time for perfectionism. Something I needed to let go of. Not everything we make is a masterpiece. Strong work emerges from a whole body of work and honed skills are acquired through the time you put in. These are just a few of the lessons I learned from this challenge. One of the other gifts that came from this project was the inspiring community of artists on Instagram that I met. I feel so lucky to have made some really good friends and to be part of this community.
What was one of the biggest challenges that you faced as you started your own business? How did you overcome that?
Shortly after I started painting professionally, I had children. My biggest challenge has been finding the time to paint and work consistently everyday. I knew that raising my girls was going to be a primary focus, so I needed to find a way to fit pursuing my passion and running a business into my life. One of the things that I’ve learned is to prioritize and to be very purposeful with my time. I make daily lists and micro lists of everything that needs to happen this month, week and day. These items are linked to my google calendar, where I get alerts to keep me on track. I distill out the things which are essential and focus my time and energy there first. Since my studio is in my home, it’s easy to get distracted by everything that needs to be done around the house and for my family. Having my artistic and business to-do items written down keeps me focused on my goals. It also helps me see that the other less important items can get done after I’ve had the time to create and work. One of the other important things I do is meet regularly with other makers and small business owners for goal setting and accountability sessions. There is power in speaking your dreams out loud and having someone support you in accomplishing them.
Do you have any big goals or dream collaborators? In a perfect world, where would you like to see your artwork in a few years?
I love to daydream and believe that I’ve manifested many of my ideas from indulging this practice. As my most recent series of paintings has progressed, I have a clear vision for a solo gallery show. I’m currently working on developing this body of work and going deeply into my vision and ideas behind it. I’m also taking time to push myself creatively. I’m experimenting and making pieces that may go nowhere, in order to grow as an artist. I feel like this creative freedom and the hours spent just looking, feeling and trying are the most important element for growth. Expanding my vision and exhibiting my work are definitely things that I want to pursue this coming year. I would also love to collaborate with other artists. So many great ideas and experiences come from the synergy of working with others. Finally, I have a textile line that I began this year which brings art into the everyday. I want to work on expanding the line and getting it into more shops.
Can you share some of your favorite handmade shops or artists?
There are so many artists and makers who inspire me in different ways. In terms of where I look to find inspiration and sparks of ideas, most often I look to painters like Cy Twombly, Christopher Wool, and Joan Mitchell. Not only do I look at their work, but I study their studio practice and how they create. I like to see their spaces and be able to feel the freedom and ritual in their practice and paintings. My second love, after painting, is writing, so I am deeply moved by words. Two books that are never far from my reach are Isla Negra, a notebook of poetry by Pablo Neruda and A Field Guide to Getting Lost, by Rebecca Solnit. Any page I choose offers inspiration to me. Finally, I love A Piece Apart’s blog. They offer a rich curation of interiors, art and fashion. It’s always my online go-to.
Where to Find Karina:
Are you an artist or creative entrepreneur running your own business? I would love to talk with you and share your story. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject Makers To Know if you're interested.