So, I thought it would be a great idea to introduce you all to the creator of Nama Rococo, Karen Combs.
Karen is another woman who was inspired to follow her dreams, and what began as a hobby has turned into a full-fledged business. She was kind enough to chat with me about how. Please join me as we take a Peek Into Her World:
What is your background?
As far as the wallpaper background goes: I went to art school first at Indiana University, and then at Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. For years, along with doing regular jobs, like working in the libraries at Harvard, or at a Bakery in Cambridge, I did my own paintings and prints and had a sort of traditional artist’s path with galleries and suchlike. Around that time, I also sold a few different DIY artist-craft-type design projects in little galleries around town. (Like a whole series of hand-dyed, hand-sewn bikinis!)
Later, when I moved to Northern California, I got into doing big colorful multifaceted art installations on walls, composed of groupings of my own prints and drawings. After awhile that seemed to just naturally segue into the idea of wallpaper. Pasting my prints on paper to the wall may, in a way, have been my first *wallpaper*.
What inspired you to start designing wallpaper?
I have always loved frescoes and other forms of painting or drawing done directly on walls. So many artists through the ages have made paintings directly on the walls of their own homes, or in other religious or commercial spaces, and I’d always taken an interest in that idea. I think looking at a lot of these types of works over the years, from 14th C. Italian Frescoes, to Bloomsbury group house at Charleston, to Jackson Pollack to contemporary artists like Shepard Fairey (not to mention Asian and African examples) — and then making my own works on paper, just grew into a vision of somehow learning to make my own wallpaper. At first I think I just wanted to just make it for myself, a kind of wallpaper my own spaces, then gradually the whole thing blossomed into a model for a full-fledged business.
Where do you look for inspiration?
Often in museums or books, at the work of other artists through the ages, and in all parts of the world. As well as other arts, music, literature, fashion. I’m also out in nature a lot, and that always feels important. Inspiration feels free ranging and always available.
Who are your favorite artists?
Well, that Alexander McQueen show I just saw at the Met Museum was pretty mind-blowingly inspirational! I’ve always loved Chris Ofili, especially his Afro-muses series from a few years ago. I have a big print I’m mad for, by Judy Pfaff. I love the look of the work, and the freewheeling spirit of the artists who were in Aaron Rose’s Alleged Gallery, I love just about everything Bjork does!
Describe a typical day.
There’s no such thing. ( I’m not too good at following a routine!) The only constant is that I usually get up very early and have leisurely from my Bialetti Coffee maker, and some type of toast with jam! My sister jokes that my toast & coffee ritual in the morning is the glue that holds my life together!
What’s the biggest mistake that you’ve made on the job?
Mistakes, I’ve made a few. But then again- Must you remind me!? 😉
Best professional moment.
Well, there have been loads of magnificent moments, and some very special clients, but I guess my favorite recent moment, is being asked by director from the Royal Opera House in London if I would make a variation of one of my designs for them for the set of a Cocteau/Poulenc opera piece.
Okay, here goes …. home decor, architecture, garden design & plants, alt rock and alt folk music (making mix cd’s!), cooking (organic), exploring, swimming, yoga, art-travel, sewing and all kinds of DIY craft type projects I used to do, and plan to find the time to do again, like making hand-bound books.
Favorite vacation spots?
My favorite vacation spot in the past few years (outside of countless art museums…) was a visit to the LIQUIDROM in Berlin. Maybe because I went in the dead of winter, after trudging cold streets full of snow for a few weeks, it felt like pure water-steam-spa heaven! Not to mention the pool with the colored light show and underwater electronica music…
Favorite Nama Rococo pattern?
Ongoing – my favorite wallpaper to MAKE is French Dot – because it is of the moment, ongoing and each one is unique. To keep in stock I have to paint a new selection every month or so, for a few days and I always love doing it. But really at different moments any given one might be my *favorite child* .
What’s next for Nama Rococo?
Launching a few new patterns into the world in September, which I’m quite excited about — and after that I’m really delving some studio work through the winter. Expanding the creative end of things & see where that takes me.
Thanks Karen. I can’t wait to see what is next for Nama Rococo. Obviously, I am a big fan.
Keep your eyes on this lady, people, she’s definitely one to watch!