We sat down with Karla in anticipation of her print release to ask her about her earliest art memories, a normal day in the studio, her release with us and much more:
Where were you born and where are you now?
I was born on the island of Puerto Rico, and I currently reside in San Francisco, California.
What are your first artistic memories and how has your work evolved over the years? Have you always been interested in the same themes?
I think I was always interested in fables, legends, mythology, and surrealist themes. I grew up with Brother's Grimm, Roman & Norse mythology, our own Puerto Rican mythology, etc. Later as I became more aware of various art movements, I became obsessed with the Orientalists, Art Noveau, Pre-Raphealites and artists such as Sargent, Jean Leon Gerome, Anders Zorn, and Alphonso Mucha.
All these things inspired me heavily as a student, and continue to do so to this day. I honestly think the only thing that has changed has been my visual vocabulary and the slow but steady improvement of technique.
Do you approach creating concept art, illustration and painting in different ways?
Yes and no. Technically speaking, I take a lot of care into the crafting of the imagery I make. I make sure my edges, my brushstrokes, my colors, my lights, are all tangible and approachable. All my works attempt to reside in reality but without focusing on the hyper-real. Where concept art, Illustration and my fine art split ways, is that the fine art that I do is in service to my own self. It is the space I go to explore who I am as an artist, rather than my other job, which is to offer exciting visual solutions to clients.
Do you have a favorite medium to create with?
I have two! I'm in love with Oils and Digital. I love the endless possibilities Digital has to offer. I also love the beautiful tangible quality of oil painting and the process of creating it. I'm in love with color mixes, with surfaces, with how a brush will react to the swift flick of a wrist! My life is enriched by loving both mediums, as in my experience, they truly enhance each other!
Could you tell us a bit about your release with us, "Despierta?"
I was approached to create an exclusive print, which was quite the honor. I went through a lot of different ideas, but the one I kept coming back to was of this old dreamy drawing I had done many years back. I had always intended for it to be in color, and I thought, why not take the opportunity and do so now! As the creation of it occured, it took a life of its own, and demanded to be its own thing, completely different from the previous work I had done!
In some ways, I'm quite happy with it did, because it became a fresh and new painting for me, that more accurately captured what I originally wanted to say.
What is a normal day like in the studio for you?
I get up around 8 am, and stay in bed reading until 9am. Around 9am I make myself a cup of coffee, and eat something small. Sometimes I work out, sometimes I read around this time.
I don't usually start painting until 10 am. Once I begin, very little stops me. I get completely engrossed with whatever I'm working on, be it a concept for a film, an illustration for a book, or an oil painting for a show.
I usually stop around 2-3 for a late lunch, and quickly shuffle back to the studio. My work stops around 8 pm. Sometimes my schedule changes, but even if it does, I always do try to keep at least 6 hours of solid paint time, with lots of quick health breaks in between.
What's the hardest part of creating?
Your mood, and fears. The process of creating itself is very rewarding, and immensely joyful. But the fears creep in, or you’re in a bad mood, and that can debilitate your ability to create and focus. Sometimes the fears are self inflicted, sometimes, they are outside your own control, such as the state of the nation, global warming, bills, etc.
I personally am at my best when everything is in order, and I'm in a mentally healthy stable place. I work hard for that stability, as it allows me to paint my best.
Is the process of creating or the final product more rewarding to you?
I'm in it for the whole ride . I'm obsessed with the entire process, from sketch, to render to that final moment where you're so excited the idea you had is now out in the world. The whole thing is wonderful!
When you're not working on art, what do you find yourself doing?
Cooking, reading, playing video games, traveling, spending time with my partner, seeing fellow friends and family! I try to give myself the time to recharge, and am very protective of that time!
It's what allows me to work as intensely as I do, without getting bitter!
What's the best advice, artistically, that you've ever received?
I’ve had a lot of incredible advice in my life, but the best one comes from my father, a musician, at a point early in my life where I had quit art!
After a couple of months, I finally told him I quit, and he laughed and said "Congratulations! You are not an artist, until you feel like quitting, at least once."
This was profound to me. Those simple words eased the monsters and fears I had. It made me pick up the brush and continue my journey. It made me feel less alone because it taught me that many of the fears that I thought were uniquely mine, were simply fears of most creative individuals! It changed my life and helped me become the artist i am, and hope to continue to be.
"Despierta" will be available Thursday, December 13th, 2018 at 1PM PST.