Midnight oasis: "Botanical art to dream away" - by Karen Brotherton - Phriya

Midnight oasis: "Botanical art to dream away" - by Karen Brotherton

Karen Brotherton

We are very happy to announce our new collaboration with the amazing artist Karen Brotherton.

Karen is a british graphic designer and illustrator who found her way into fashion from design school over ten years ago. Her true love is botanical illustrations and she has since steered her work in the direction of product branding and design.

We discovered Karen’s beautiful work online and we fell in love with her unique style.

At that moment we were looking for an artist to bring to life our Egyptian collection.

So it all started with an unexpected and pleasant long zoom call. I was very happy to discover not only a very talented artist dedicated to her work but also a person with whom I could spend hours talking about all kinds of topics...

From stories about prints and the theme of the collection, our conversation led to healing crystals, stories about Ayahuasca and memorable journeys we could make together in the future. 

All in all I discovered a new friend with whom I made a connection beyond work and that is absolutely wonderful.

All our prints from Midnight Oasis Collection are hand painted by Karen. We have sent Karen tons of mood boards and the story behind each print and we have worked close with her to bring the magic of our new collection to life. Working with such a talented artist was an extraordinary experience and we hope that you will love this collaboration as much as we do.

1. Could you tell us a bit about how you started illustrating?

I started illustrating after I finished my degree in graphic design. I think I went to university a bit bewildered and ended up doing a degree I wasn’t entirely interested in, I would have been a lot more suited to a textiles/illustration course. So once I graduated I scrapped my entire portfolio and started from scratch! I spent a while exploring ideas and themes I was interested in, eventually settling on Botanical art.

2. How would you describe your style of painting?

I think my style of painting is quite precise, I really love the craft of creating neat and precise artwork - plus it saves on editing in Photoshop afterwards! But I often try to interpret a plant or animal, rather than being true to life. I tend to exaggerate certain elements of a subject that stand out to me the most.

3. What inspires you? Where do you find ideas for your work?

Nature is my biggest inspiration! That might sound very cliché, but I grew up in the countryside and spent my childhood making dens in farmers fields, collecting frogspawn and climbing trees with my friends. So my paintings are a way of me getting to relive that magic. When I think about that time, I think of endless summers wandering through fields. I felt a real connection to nature when I was little, something I miss now living in London.

4. Which tools do you use when you are painting?

I use gouache paints, I find they’re the best for my style. You can build up layers of detail really easily or use the paints watered down to create subtle texture.  Then I always use a heat pressed watercolor paper, because the paint absorbs into the surface so well and it can also withstand big watery areas of diluted paints to create beautiful inky style textures.

5. Which artist of the past would you most like to meet?

I would love to meet Van Gogh. He sounded like a very interesting character, he obviously was a very troubled guy but I think he also saw the magic in nature.  His paintings of golden crop fields aren’t far removed from the landscape of my home town, so his work really resonates with me.

6. Have you ever had a period of being creatively blocked? How did you/would you work through it?

This is a really great question! And the answer is of course yes. I think I get the most creatively blocked when I overthink a project too much, my best work happens when I’ve enjoyed the process and have been relaxed throughout.  The best way to work through any creative block for me is to take a step back, go for a walk and relax!

7. What has been the most memorable compliment you’ve received for your work?

Someone once told me that a series of illustrations I did reminded her of going to her grandma’s house and looking through old natural history books. I took that as a massive compliment, it's nice to think that I helped play a part in bringing back some happy childhood memories.

8. What is the most challenging aspect of being an artist?

The unpredictability of the market, there’s times when you might be really busy working through lots of projects and then there are much quieter times.  You have to be very proactive about finding new work to maintain a healthy workload.  But then you also have the joy of being self employed and flexible with time, so it has its ups and downs.

9. What can we look forward to from you next?

 have just launched a wallpaper line under the name Living Quarters, inspired by my love of botanicals. You can check it out at living-quarters.co

10. What do you love about your job?

I love getting to work with lots of interesting people. The process of creating art is quite a quiet, solo process, so talking through projects with the client is often a real joy. That person is putting their trust in you to create something that speaks to them and how they want their brand to be portrayed, so it’s a real privilege to be given that opportunity, plus I love the fact that art in general is creating something where there wasn’t before. You’re making a thing that other people react to and it can bring a lot of joy to others.

11. Can you tell us about the process of making your work?

I usually start by doing a lot of research into plants/animals that fit the project, it’s fun because I usually always learn something about nature that I didn’t know before. Then I get to work with painting each element of an artwork and piecing them all together using Photoshop.

Reading Karen Brotherton

12. What piece of your artwork would you like to be remembered for?

I’d like to think I haven’t created it yet! I think the best is yet to come.

13. If you could work within a past art movement, which would it be?

I’m always most drawn to impressionist artists, I think because they’re working to create an atmosphere or feeling within an artwork and that in itself is really special.  For lots of people to look at a piece of art and have the same feeling created from it.

14. What is your greatest indulgence in life?

Sleep! I can sleep anywhere at any time of day. I love a day nap! But I also need at least 8hrs of sleep a night, otherwise I can’t function.

15. What advice would you give to a young artist following in your steps?

To create art as much as possible, and to try and keep your work true to yourself. The best work comes from your interpretation of a subject you are working from, rather than you copying or being too heavily influenced by other artists. Everyone is different and the best thing about art is seeing different ways of looking at the same thing.

16. Are you following your dreams?

My sleeping dreams? Or aspirational dreams? I do follow my sleeping dreams.  I am really interested in the work of Carl Jung, and how your dreams are always a useful tool for you to analyse parts of your life and improve them.  Dreams speak in metaphor, so it’s really fun to pick apart dreams and find the deeper meaning within a dream situation which might seem completely ridiculous but actually has a serious message.  

Aspirational dream wise - I don’t think I really think about the future too much, therefore I don’t really have many aspirations or goals! Other than to keep creating and for people to enjoy what I create.

17. What makes you dream?

it doesn't take a lot for me to dream! I’ve always had a very vivid imagination so I dream a lot and more often than not remember my dreams.  I have a dream diary that I sometimes write in to record certain dreams that I think could have an important meaning to think about.

18. Which print from our collaboration is your favorite?

It's hard to choose! They were all such a joy to work on, and I loved the backstory behind each print.  Patricia is such a like-minded dreamy person that I found it really easy to get excited about each of the artworks we created!  But if I had to choose I would say the Garden of Amun print, as it's the most traditional botanical and I really enjoyed reading up on each of the plants within the design. The blue lotus flower within the Garden of Amun print was my favorite, it was sacred to the ancient Egyptians and it had lots of really interesting uses! 

19. Do you consider yourself a full time dreamer?

100% sometimes it's hard to come back to reality! But I think it’s such a nice way to live, to see the magic in things and see the potential in what could be rather than be too bogged down with rules and structured ways of doing things.

Doesn't Karen looks great in our Garden of Amun Pyjama set?

Discover our Garden of Amun pyjama set