I was a little bit nervous about meeting Karina Sharpe. Not for any adverse reason - infact, she impressed me as being open, warm and generous prior to our meeting - it was simply because I was creatively star struck. Yep, there - I said it!
I’ve been doing the Instagram thing for a couple of months now, and one of the first profiles I started to follow was Karina’s; her vignettes are works of art, and her eye for detail is extraordinary. Imagine my delight at finding out she was a Sunny Coast local living just down the road! Taking the plunge I emailed Karina, groveling for a meeting, and her response was totally positive and openly encouraging. So, when I opened her front gate and was met with a happy dog, a smiling bub and a warm hug from Karina, I kinda melted!!
Karina has that calming air of somebody who has her priorities spot on. As we chatted on her sofa, with her littlest man happily stealing the spotlight, she spoke about finding her path by following her gut instinct and gaining fulfillment through inspiring happiness in others through her creations - be it her Instagram vignettes or her sculptural jewelry pieces. She also spoke of the responsibility she nurtures to herself, her family and her creative supporters, all of whom Karina believes are a part of a symbiotic relationship. She speaks with honesty and clarity, and these two qualities are mirrored in her works.
During our interview I noticed Karina’s gorgeous necklace, which is a prototype for her new range. Still in development, the piece was made using 3D printing technology - an amazing concept which totally blows my mind! Here Karina’s background in Industrial design was evident as she described the processes and materials used to create her stunning jewelry pieces. All pieces in the new range, which Karina is looking at launching in about two months, are made to order which she states is to ensure that they are all tailored to suit their wearers perfectly. Attention to detail, and the drive to keep her clients happy - two of the business savvy qualities that Karina seems to excel at.
After meeting Karina and her lovely family I’m still a bit starstruck, but now I also feel enlightened. This, I think, is the mark of a true artist - and an enduring creative force.
What’s your Sunshine Coast story Karina? What brought you here and how long have you lived on the coast?
I’m relatively new to the Sunshine Coast, having previously lived in Melbourne. My SurferMan-Neil and I arrived here during a rainy December, five and a half years ago. Seven months earlier we had sold-off and packed-up our city life and took-off around Australia, in a converted 4WD, in search of a new home. We went the long way round: Victoria, South Australia, WA etc. We reached QLD right on Christmas School Holidays and couldn’t continue travelling the same way we had been, so we house-sat instead - first in Peregian, then in Eudlo. After six weeks of walls and floors and hot running water, the novelty of nomadic life had worn off and we decided to stay put. We got a dog, then a house, then two cheeky little boys. In that order.
What is your design background?
Officially I’m an Industrial Designer, or Product Designer. I studied Industrial Design and Mechanical Engineering at Monash University in Melbourne. I went on to work in consultancies designing new products for clients. I became specialised in 3D digital design for the product industry. I now utilise this collection of skills, in many forms, in my everyday work.
How would you describe your design style and what inspires it?
This use to be a very difficult question, but I have been giving it quite a bit of thought lately. Firstly, everything inspires me: nature, flora & fauna, fashion trends, shapes and form. Sometimes it is a shape of something ambiguous as I rush past with my boys, other times it could be the intricacies of a botanical specimen I’ve collected.
My design style could be summed up with these phrases: ‘simple with an added flurry’; ‘nature with a touch of science’; organic-y industrial; hard with softness; a touch of concise wit; a precision that looks effortless. My style is usually quite considered. I spend time to make it ‘just so’. If I am working on something, I build it up, then pair it back, until I get the perfect subtle balance.
Your label ‘Karina Jean’ which creates jewellery and “wearable goodness” - how did it come to be, and what are its plans for the future?
My full name is Karina Jean Sharpe. The concept of Karina Jean was born from a daydream on a camping holiday, pre-kids. We were still in Melbourne and consultancy work was becoming dreary. I wanted to design for myself. Something about jewellery spoke to me, even though I am not a big wearer of jewellery. I think it combines my love of well-considered design and fashion, design-for-use and trends.
The actual focus for Karina Jean did a few flips with each of my babies. I went a bit maternal and safe for a while after baby number one. Baby number two brought back my courage and edge. Currently I am working on five new neckwear designs.
Your stunning Instagram pics are truly inspirational and as such, you have a huge following - 1,311 at last count! Can you describe the process that takes you to the final shot, and, on a personal level, what do you get out of the process?
My process has been evolving over the last few months. My main aim is to create smiles, connect and inspire. Sometimes I have a specific idea of what I am trying to convey. Sometimes I am playing around and stumble upon something randomly good. Other times I just start placing things near each other, get lost in a haze and look up 10 minutes later and say ‘oh look’.
In general, and in this order, I arrange, phaff, photograph, then study, rearrange, rephotograph, edit/crop, observe, then add/remove or finesse, then capture. Then edit/crop.Then I usually leave it setup for a while because it’s nice, and I’m lazy at packing away. On a personal level, I get satisfaction out of creating. I stay fresh and tuned. And I get to give to others of the gifts I have been given.
Are there any designers/artisans/crafts people that you’re particularly loving at the moment? Any Blogs that are your particular favorites?
Megan Morton is my Hero. Jacqueline Fink, of Little Dandelion, is a wiz with wool. Tamara Maynes is as beautifully clever as her designs. And I recently discovered the tidy arrangements of Ursus Wehrli.
To be honest, I don’t have a lot of time to read blogs. I wish I did. Lucy Feagins’ The Design Files is my long time love. And I’m very merry when Tamara Maynes’ email blog posts wink at me from my inbox.
What are the best things about being your own creative boss?
Everything: time, freedom, family time, space to grow and evolve and go off on tangents, freedom to ‘change the game’ or ‘move the goal post’, and a clear three-fold responsibility to myself, my family and the sweet people to choose to support/join my journey.
Fav Sunny Coast designer/artisan?
Fav Sunny Coast retail outlet/s?
Um (I mostly buy online. Sorry)
Fav Sunny Coast cafe/restaurant/foodie paradise?
We are more cafe than restaurant, anything with a laidback vibe. The Pocket Espresso at Moffat beach is our current local favourite. But then the crew at Izba Espresso are doing something pretty clever and yum on the edge of Nicklin Way.
Fav Sunny Coast weekend routine?
Anything with a sleep-in would be grand.
Fav Sunny Coast icon/landmark?
If you wade out into the middle of Currimundi Lake and look ocean-ward, the view won’t let you down, especially early morning.
Fav Sunny Coast hangout?
Mostly we hang out at Moffat Beach. Good coffee, grass, ocean, sand, dog friendly and a playground. Everyone wins.
You can check out Karina's newly relaunched Karina Jean website for more information about her jewellery range and links to her online shop, be inspired at Karina Sharpe - Karina's 'creative showcase' website, or head to her profile at Instagram to attain some enlightenment of the pictorial kind :)