Whether they feature owls or dachshunds, ferns or flowers, Karen Mabon’s luscious patterns flow effortlessly throughout her designs, bringing the beauty and intricacies of nature to the fore. There’s also a quirky stream of humour in the Scottish artist’s work, some of which has a sensibility resting somewhere between Hieronymus Bosch and Where’s Wally.
Karen is a multi-talented creative. She’s had great success designing silk scarves, but her work has transferred just as easily onto cushions, ceramics, illustrations, swimwear and pyjamas, and she also has a background in jewellery design. Growing up on the Black Isle, a peninsula in northern Scotland, her drawing skills came about because she had so little else to do growing up. That, and the fact that her father is a well-known painter. After spending 12 years in Edinburgh, she’s now based in London and says that moving there is one of the best decisions she’s ever made.
When she’s not creating eye-catching patterns and imagery or travelling to promote her latest products, Karen loves poking around car boot sales or listening to audiobooks. She draws her inspiration from a whole range of artists and movements including British artists of the 1950s like Eric Ravillious and Enid Marx, folk and outsider art, Henry Darger illustrations and great painters like David Hockney, Eduardo Paolozzi, Peter Blake and Henri Matisse. Her favourite designer is Piero Fornasetti.
Karen studied jewellery at the Edinburgh College of Art because she loves making things. After gaining a first class undergraduate degree, she started a Masters at the Royal College of Art in London.
Each of her creations begins as a pencil and/or fineliner drawing. Her process is very much based on the screenprinting technique and she creates individual separations for each colour which are scanned in and layered up in Photoshop. With her background in textile printing, she tends to use a limited colour palette.
There are two main styles in Karen’s portfolio. The first she refers to as the Natural World, where the tones are muted and the subject matter is rendered more realistically. Inspiration here comes from Swedish textile design, botanical illustrations and, of course, plants and nature. Her second style is called Novelty – images with a bit more humour, where you can get lost in the detail and discover something new every time.
Scottish Online Accessories Brand – Herald Fashion Awards – 2018
Accessories Designer of the Year – Scottish Fashion Awards – 2016