Australia's Adelaide can be a place of extremes. Declared the hottest city in the world by the United Nations' World Meteorological Organisation hitting temperatures as high as 46C (114.8F) it's a state built on diversity, character and grit. It also happens to be the home to one of Australia's leading exponents in the field of modern retro collage, Karen Lynch, or as she's also known Leaf & Petal Design.
For the past 4 years, Karen has but studiously cutting and pasting to create her whimsical, surrealist worlds rooted in mid century modern aesthetics. In that time, she's seen her collages grace album covers, event visuals, TV commercials, advertising campaigns and magazine editorials. What immediately engages you upon viewing her work is the balanced composition, vivid colour palettes, the incredibly precise cutting, and the sense of wonder wrapped in nostalgia for a future past that never existed until now.
The creative community in Adelaide has always been a thriving, supportive one and Karen is a true collaborator, mentor and teacher within that collection of like minds. Despite having over 60,000 followers on Instagram, she is approachable and communicative on social media. You get the sense that she wants the best for everyone who has a creative spark or desire within them.
I caught up with Karen this week to ask her a few questions.
Describe a typical day for you
Family/school things, work, email, social media, own collage work, commission work, walk, reading, rinse and repeat.
What's the best thing about living in Adelaide?
Less traffic and easier parking than when I lived in Sydney! Proximity to pristine beaches. Heaps of vintage collage material available, particularly as it is a dry climate, not prone to flooding or humidity, so stacks of quality, preserved source material.
How do you overcome a creative block?
If I sort out my stash of materials, I usually come across images I’ve put aside and forgotten about. I also might go to an art gallery for inspiration or visit a few secondhand junk stores or thrift shops for some new old material.
When was the last time you cried and why?
I cry all the time, particularly in films or books. I just finished the book Call Me By Your Name and I’m pretty sure I had a tear in my eye for half of the book.
Share with us a collaging trick that makes workflow more efficient
I don’t know if it’s a trick, but I find if I keep all my books and magazines grouped together by genre, finding material is easier. For example I have a box each for space books, mountains, New Zealand, flowers, and have my National Geographics in date order.
What is the last thing you purchased that brings you happiness but you really didn't need?
I love stationery so I’m always buying fabric covered or hardcover journals that I don’t really need, but do eventually use.
You grab for a record/cd/playlist to soundtrack your creative activities - what's the first thing you reach for?
I am notoriously fickle and eclectic in my musical taste! I’ve just come back from WOMADELAIDE festival so I’m currently listening to musicians like Dan Sultan and The Avalanches who I saw there.
What's one piece of advice you would give a younger artist who is struggling to find their artistic voice?
I believe the famous art teacher Sister Corita Kent told her students to go away and make 50 collages and come back and show her the 50th one. Not every collage is going to be kick-arse. Experiment. Put the work in. You are going to get better and find your own style. Did I say, put the work in?
Have you ever had a nickname? If so, what was/is it?
Nothing I really want to repeat!