I used to peer into Excel spreadsheets wondering if there was more to life than this.
As is the case with many creatives, my career path has been a long and winding road, with each step an attempt to bring myself closer to pursuing my true passion. Armed with a liberal arts degree with a major in Fine Arts, I began my career at Martha Stewart Living in a position that required no creativity, and quickly realized that I was miserable. Acknowledging this was one thing, but actually doing something about it was something else entirely! It took me many years to realize that I had no alternative other than to chart my own path.
Seeking out support from mentors, career coaches and creative co-workers, I mustered the courage to begin learning the Adobe programs which eventually led to an entry level product design position. From there, I worked all the way up to a Design Director at Martha Stewart Living. During my ten years with the company, I designed and developed Martha Stewart branded product for partnerships with Kmart, Sears, Macy’s, Home Depot and Grandin Road. I spent the following decade as the Creative Director for Alene Candles and then PartyLite, both candle manufacturers, where I oversaw the design of product and graphics for brands, licenses and retailers from mass market to luxury.
Yet I had a nagging feeling that a career in design wasn’t “it” for me and would ultimately be creatively limiting. I was frustrated, especially when talking to others whom I viewed as “real” artists: visual artists who could allow themselves to paint and draw without restraint. I began taking the risk of actually trying to make my own art, which was not easy. What if I made bad art? What if I had dumb ideas? A first goal was to simply create art for 15 minutes a day, relieved by the ding! of my kitchen timer. After that, I resolved to take scarier, more public, steps—attending art classes, applying to open calls, introducing myself as an “artist,” building a website of my artwork, renting a studio. It took years for me to stop feeling like I was an imposter and realize that I was actually building a career as a professional artist.
I have since exhibited my mixed media artwork both locally and nationally. My artwork has received coverage in ARTnews, Artnet News, Hyperallergic, Gothamist, Brooklyn Magazine, Delve Art, Gallery Gurls and The Believer Magazine, among others. Recently, I was a 2018 Artist-in-Residence at the Bard Graduate Center Library and had a solo exhibition at the 2019 SPRING/BREAK Art Show in New York City, and I am currently preparing for a solo show early next year at Ground Floor Gallery in Brooklyn, NY.
As a career coach and personal identity designer, I draw upon this background of over 20 years in branding, graphic design and visual art along with my own experience charting a creative path. I also speak publicly about charting your own way and teach design portfolio classes at The City College of New York (CUNY), preparing college seniors for their careers in the arts.
Learn more about my art and design practices and bodies of work.
Career Coaching & Mentoring
Do you have a nagging feeling that you should be doing something you’re not? Don’t know where to start?
I help creative people (and wannabe creatives) identify the building blocks needed to make their dreams a reality.
Work one-on-one with me to learn how to follow your curiosity, nurture your passion, gain clarity, and identify the steps needed to achieve your goals—no matter how impractical or impossible they may initially appear.
How does it work?
I can provide guidance in many areas, including how to:
+ Cultivate your passion
+ Clarify your goals
+ Build a career as a creative
+ Career transition (at any age)
+ Negotiate with confidence
+ Network and build a community
+ Work as a professional artist
+ Create an artist statement or elevator pitch
+ Create your portfolio or resume
+ Interview and job search
Each one-hour session includes recommendations customized to your needs and goals and a follow-up email to ensure accountability and follow-through.
Do you have a project you need help realizing or do you need to clarify your goals? Contact me to set up your coaching session.
Branding & Web Design
Ready to announce your passion or side-hustle to the world?
An important step in making your idea a reality is putting it out there for others to see and respond, and where great things can begin to happen. Building a website is a way of doing just that.
It is gratifying for me to be able to use my 15 years of corporate design experience to help those who are passionate about their work translate their unique stories into visual form.
Let’s work together to build a website that you love, develop personal branding that shines, design a resume that makes you stand out or refresh visuals for an existing business or endeavor.
How does the design process work?
First, we’ll have an initial conversation to determine expectations, needs and goals. During our chat, I’ll ask you a ton of questions about yourself and your project and determine needed content. The design of your website will be based on a visual identity that communicates your unique story. I’ll check in with you along the way to make sure we’re on the right track with the design. I currently use Squarespace, a customizable template-based platform which is perfect for small businesses and entrepreneurs who favor a simple, clean, easy-to-navigate site with good functionality on both desktop and mobile devices. It’s also user-friendly so you will easily be able to update content.
How much does it cost?
A simple website with limited content can take just a few hours, while others can take much longer. Contact me to discuss your project needs and I can provide you with a quote.
I was invited to speak on career coach Maggie Mistal’s podcast “Making a Living with Maggie” about making my own successful career change. In this episode, I talk about the evolution of my career and the journey of following my dreams. I also share specific steps you can take right now to give yourself permission to make your "crazy" career move.
Interested in having me speak at your event?
Contact me and we’ll start the conversation.
“Karen helped me with a redesign, rework, and branding of my site. She provided me an all inclusive launch pad for my business. There was a cohesiveness to my brand that was missing before I started working with her. This cohesiveness was brought by way of logos, website layout, and ‘Ukulele Jake’ specific branding. Her quick responsiveness made the project go smoothly and expediently!
There were two immediate impacts after working with Karen. The first was a noticeable and still steady uptick in clients. The second—less tangibly—was how my business was perceived. I noticed that her work had given me a certain clout that was not there before.
If you’re considering getting help with your website’s design or branding, do yourself a favor and work with Karen. You’ll thank me (and her) when you do!”
- Jacob Sayraf, ukulelejake.com
“I first met Karen a number of years ago while she was the Design Director for Alene Candles, and had the privilege to work closely with her as my client on many projects.
Life’s path changed with new challenges and Karen was there throughout with ideas and suggestions to help me navigate when clarity wasn’t always easy.
Karen was eager to understand past, present and future goals given the unique circumstances. She did so with exactitude and compassion. Oh, and another important detail you should know about Karen is that she is a great listener!
So, if your pathway has changed or you want a fresh approach with your current situation, get in touch with Karen. She will be very helpful with your job search and resume development utilizing her clear vision and thoughtful execution. You won’t be disappointed!”
Karen is more than a talented designer. In addition to demonstrating the visual sensibility of an artist, Karen brings a rigorous desire and capacity to understand all aspects of a project. While working with me to rethink the design for my website, The Society for Domestic Museology, she raised critical questions that helped me to see entirely new possibilities. Along with designing an awesome new logo that I love and refining the site navigation, Karen helped me to clarify a plan to move my venture forward.
I have come to see her as a true partner in the process of developing my creative projects.
-Heather Topcik, Society for Domestic Museology