September 19, 2011

where I get creative {an interview with Karen Barbé}

Today I'm delighted to welcome Karen Barbé. 
I have been following Karen's work for a couple of years and she keeps surprising me with her beautiful things. I Love her screen printed cotton bags!

Tell us a bit about your background
I'm a textile designer trained at Universidad Católica de Chile. Before going freelance I worked at PUMA Chile as a Product Manager Jr. and then as an in-house designer for the Marketing Dept. at Concha y Toro Winery. But probably what has shaped me most as the designer I am today, are all those hours from childhood and youth (and yeah, adulthood) working and crafting with my mother. We share lots of projects, discuss about craft techniques and talk a lot about colour use.

Describe your Creative Space
I have my studio at home, in a quite spacious room though I always feel I need more and more room. I have my computer and two looms and a small wooden table where I do all my manual work.

Describe your typical Creative time.
It usually happens out of something I see, like a picture in an old magazine, a vintage find, a forgotten and shabby shop somewhere, a piece of traditional craft, which creates in me a chain of emotions and feelings. The hard part is to transform these feelings into actual images. This could take from a few hours, days or months. Only when I have a clear visualization of them is that I start drawing on paper or in the computer. If it's an embroidery I've been thinking about it's only then that I grab needle and floss. I've found it frustrating to start working if I don't have a rough image in my mind of where I'm aiming to.

Two things you can't live without
I don't know when nor how it happened, but my camera has become the main piece of gear in my workflow (and well, life). It's no longer a mere tool, now it's come to be a means by itself. And, of course, I can't live without comfortable shoes. Shoes can make the difference to me between a tiring or energetic day.

Do you have any routine or rituals in your work and creative habits?
I find I get more creative when I give myself the time to think about my ideas while doing something else, like walking. Yeah, walking can work wonders with creative work.

How do you keep focused?
I can't. This is something I still need to improve. My mind wanders from one idea to the next. I love the thrill of beginning new projects.

What is your primary source of inspiration?
Last week I was looking at my site stats and noticed that someone had googled "Recurring flower motif by Karen Barbé". How fun, I hadn't even noticed flowers were a recurring theme in my imagery! I do love flowers and plants as a source of inspiration but I think what inspires me most are textile structures. It can be anything, cross-stitch patterns, weaving, knitting, crochet. I want to make textiles about textiles.
What part of your creative process do you enjoy the most?
The dream part, when all your ideas look wonderful inside your mind.
What are you working on now?
I have just finished weaving a batch of wool cushions for my shop. Now I have some embroidery ideas in my mind I still have to work out.

Thank you so much Karen for sharing your creative space with us. You are an inspiration!!!!

Karen's Shop
Karen's Website
Karen's Blog


  1. Lovely interview! I adore her work!

  2. absolutely love the interview and happy to have discovered a new super lovely brand
    love her work!!!

  3. i love all of these posts, i think everyone is so creative with even putting them together! i think mine is coming together soon :):)

  4. I love these interviews! Again, someone new to me and someone so creative. I so love her loom! One day, I will take some time to learn more about that. Her work is so creative, so organic and really lovely. Always so interesting to see the person behind the art!

  5. Hi Anabel,
    I just wanted to say that I love these interviews.
    They are so inspiring.
    Thank you so much for sharing them with us.
    And thank you Karen for sharing your creative space with us.


  6. I love Karen's work and blog, she never ceases to inspire - so pleased to find out a little more about her :)


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