The Artist Speaks: An Interview with Karen Hallion
One of the most beautiful things about nerd-dom is that there are so many things you can nerd out about. Firefly, Doctor Who, Calvin & Hobbes, the list is always growing, and the opportunities for creativity in relation to these passions is nearly overwhelming. Enter Karen Hallion. Using digital media to mash-up some of our […]
One of the most beautiful things about nerd-dom is that there are so many things you can nerd out about. Firefly, Doctor Who, Calvin & Hobbes, the list is always growing, and the opportunities for creativity in relation to these passions is nearly overwhelming.
Enter Karen Hallion. Using digital media to mash-up some of our favorite, nerdiest delights, this Boston-area artist and mother has been featured on such sites as Teefury, RedBubble, and The Yetee. Recently, Ms. Hallion sat down and let me pick her artistically inclined brain. . .
Tiffany Palumbo: How did you first get involved in art?
Karen Hallion: When I was 16, I went to see the Little Mermaid in the theater and it sparked something in me. I went home that night and tried to draw Ariel for the first time, and was inspired after that to try and become a Disney animator someday.
TP: What types of media/canvas do you prefer to use? Are there any you absolutely avoid?
KH: I love painting on wood panels the most, actually, and hope to do some more of that in the future. A lot of my work these days is digital and I adore my shiny Cintiq! I also have been really enjoying drawing on illustration board with Copic markers for something more fun and relaxing.
Of course, any growing artist must practice and train herself, regardless of how much talent she has. Although Karen didn’t begin her career until her teen years, she was still able to obtain plenty of training and education to help hone her skills…
TP: Tell me a bit about your training and experience as a fledgling artist: what steps did you take to improve your skills? How did you get your name out there as an artist?
KH: I practiced a lot on my own at first and then attended Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota Florida, where I really found my niche and gained a lot more experience. I ended up becoming an elementary school Art teacher for many years, which I loved, and then unfortunately lost my position so decided to pursue freelance to see if I could make it work. It took many years of patience and late nights but I utilized a lot of social media to get myself out there, attended craft fairs, and started building up my Etsy store.
TP: Growing up, was there anyone who supported and encouraged your interest in art?
KH: A few friends in high school supported my interest from the very start, buying me art supplies, colored pencils, and a variety of art books for technique instruction or inspiration. I also used to make my younger sister model in various poses so I could draw her!
TP: You’ve been featured on a number of t-shirt-a-day sites (RIPT, Teefury, etc), what was the experience like when you found out your piece was going to be printed? Did you completely hit the ceiling with excitement?
KH: The first time I got accepted to Teefury, I was home alone and I read the email three or four times because I couldn’t believe it was true. I was beyond excited, and immediately called my husband and my sister in a state of shock!
TP: Have you been in any shows or exhibitions? Are there any coming up?
KH: I have done a few shows previously in Cafes and such in my local area but am mainly focused on doing Conventions now. I just got back from C2E2 in Chicago and have plans to be at Boston Comicon in August, Granite State Comicon in September, and am waiting to hear if I will be accepted to New York Comicon in October.
Van Gough’s sunflowers, Picasso and Guernica, the Doctor and his companions—inspiration is a crucial part of the creative process. When she’s not keeping her son from drawing on the cats, Karen manages to constantly find more new and beautiful things to spark the artistic spirit…
TP: Who are your influences? Your favorite artist(s)?
KH: I am heavily influenced by Disney, of course, and I love Art Noveau. My favorite artists are Glen Keane and James Baxter from Disney, Alphonse Mucha, Charles Dana Gibson, and Audrey Kawasaki.
TP: You do a lot of crossovers (Doctor Who and Disney, Calvin & Hobbes and Firefly, etc), how do you decide which characters to mash-up? What’s your favorite so far?
KH: I try to crossover characters that make sense together, where if they met somehow, it creates a unique story based on their backgrounds but that makes perfect sense from their individual stories. I would have to say my favorite so far has been Belle and the Doctor, because I just think they are perfect together.
TP: Which princess do you think would make the best companion?
KH: Belle, because of her love of adventure, her level head, and her ability to hold her own, which is everything the Doctor would need to keep him grounded.
TP: Is there anything you’ve always wanted to experiment with in your art? Any characters or different types of media you want to try working with or integrating into your pieces?
KH: I would love to do a series of work with an original character, maybe some sort of series with a story behind it.
TP: The Doctor shows up at your doorstep and offers to whisk you away to any place or time of your choosing. Do you accept? When/where do you go?
KH: If he can guarantee that I can return to my sons and husband, then yes! Anywhere with Mermaids would be perfect or maybe opening day of Disneyland to meet Walt or perhaps to Moulin Rouge in the late 1800s.
TP: A lot of people are excited for the upcoming Doctor Who episode with Matt Smith and David Tennant. Do you think you’ll do a piece based on this event?
KH: I too am very excited about that episode! I don’t have plans at this point to do a piece because I have so many other projects going on right now; but I wouldn’t rule it out. I sometimes get so inspired by something that I drop everything else to work on it while I am feeling it.
TP: What tips do you have for young artists?
KH: Work hard and don’t give up! Consider joining an Artists’ group, or starting one, to share work and learn from some other talented people out there. Submit your work to companies you want to work with, and when it gets rejected, do more work and submit it again and then again. Draw what you love, not necessarily what you think will sell.
TP: Do you have plans for any new crossovers in the future?
KH: I have more ideas than I can get to! I am going to do a few more Disney and Dr. Who in my current series including Sleeping Beauty, Princess Jasmine, and Megara. Then I might like to do a series of Disney Villains with the Doctor.
TP: Do you do commissions?
KH: At this point, I am too busy to take commissions, but I recently hired my sister as my Business Manager, so I hope to have time to take on some commissions later this year.
Although she mainly works on the computer, hard copies of her work are available, and in a variety of canvases…
TP: Where can we find your work?
KH: I post a lot on Facebook about what I am currently working on (facebook.com/KarenHallion). Otherwise I sell at Etsy http://www.etsy.com/shop/khallion?ref=si_shop, Red Bubble, http://www.redbubble.com/people/khallion and Society6 http://society6.com/KarenHallion. I also have various t-shirts available at We Love Fine and Threadless, and frequently have shirts for sale at “Shirt-a-Day” sites, where the design is available for one day only at a reduced price, such as Tee Fury, Yetee and RIPT.
After such a revealing, fascinating discussion, I couldn’t help but pry a little more deeply—just for kicks…
TP: What’s your deepest, darkest secret?
KH: That I am actually a time lord.
There you have it, folks. Eccleston, Tennant, Smith, and now Hallion, the 12th doctor. At least we know whose face to expect after the next regeneration.