Kari Breitigam is an artist and maker based out of Houston, Texas. Her multidisciplinary background in painting and textile art lends itself to the sculptural nature of her jewelry. This is Kari's first time at FELIZ and we are happy to have her.
Thanks for joining Feliz this year! Tell us a little bit about who you are, what you do, and what things you'll be bringing to Feliz.
I am a visual artist and jewelry designer. I have an MFA in Painting, and although I do still paint, much of my current work is in fibers and textiles (mostly latch hook and appliqué). I create limited edition designs using fiber, clay, metal, and hand-dyed textiles. I would say my designs are minimal organic statement pieces. I’ll be bringing to Feliz a sampling of my jewelry, including linen, brass, and hand-dyed silk pieces. I’ll also be debuting some new jewelry styles, and I’ll have hand-dyed one-of-a-kind pillows and scarves available.
We love your combination of materials (fiber, clay, and metal). Can you tell us where you find inspiration for your products?
I get a lot of inspiration from ancient jewelry designs. Right now I’m really into ancient Roman gold jewelry and Egyptian neck collars. The organic quality and irregularities of hand-formed goldwork is exquisite. I’ve had a fascination with the Nefertiti sculptural bust since I was a girl. The grandeur of her collars is just stunning. I’m also somewhat of a minimalist, however, so I think my work is a balance of that minimalist aesthetic with the splendor of some of these regal designs.
When did you decide to launch your accessories line?
I decided to launch my accessories line shortly after I finished graduate school. I had recently moved to Texas, and I was both making and teaching art. I had this desire to make more functional work that still had visual similarities to the artwork I was creating. At that time I was creating really time-consuming embroidered artwork. I started creating jewelry and dying scarves for a bit of a break. I enjoyed it immensely, both the process and the ability to wear my finished products, so I began to sell at markets and opened my online shop in late 2013.
Your background is in painting, drawing, and fiber arts. How has your accessories line evolved from this place? Do you approach your studio practice in the same way as designing for your accessories line?
I do actually approach my studio practice in a very similar way to how I design for my accessories line. I’m a planner, so my sketchbook is filled with thumbnails and notes for artwork and jewelry ideas side by side. The artwork continually feeds into the jewelry and vice versa. The same materials, shapes, colors, and techniques frequently find their way into both sides of my creative work. I also really design for myself in both of these areas. I think for commercial goods, like jewelry, it is probably thought of as wise to create what you think will sell, but I’ve never really taken that approach. I design what I like and what is interesting to me. I don’t know if it’s the best business move, but it is definitely the most fulfilling way to create.
AND to get to know you a bit better…
Hometown: Wapakoneta, Ohio (hometown of Neil Armstrong)
Astrological Sign: Aries
What would you be doing if you had a different career? I’ve always thought a career as an archeologist sounded terribly romantic. Art restoration also fascinates me. I guess I just like the idea of recovering and preserving the past.
What was the last big risk you took? Last year I cofounded a home goods design collective, Pretti.Cool, with six other Houston creatives. We each have our own creative work that keeps us busy, so launching this new collaborative business seemed exciting yet a little scary. So far so good, though!
Where do you find inspiration away from the computer? Art museums, books, other creative folks
Last great travel destination? Berlin! It was wonderful.
See more of Kari's art and jewelry here. And be sure to stop by her booth on May 6th at The Palm Door.