WORDS Gina Dionisio
We chat with visual artist Karin Miller about Garden Day, her creative process, and favourite florals to illustrate.
Tell us a bit of background about yourself?
I was born and raised in Pretoria and besides living in New Orleans for a year with my family when I was 5, and three years in Jhb as a young information designer, Pretoria is pretty much my town. I ventured into fine art when my children were at school so I could spend more time with them.
What inspires your work?
Old photographs, medieval art, pop culture, the female body and nature.
Can you tell us a bit more about your involvement in Garden Day?
I received a call from Koos Bekker in 2016 asking me if I would like to do a design for a new concept called “Garden Day”. After discussing the full brief I was super excited. I have always been in love with flowers and beautiful gardens so I enjoyed every minute of working on it. After the first year I was asked to do the next poster and banner again and have been doing the visuals for 5 years now. I have since gotten an assistant twice a week which makes the process go much smoother… as I do tend to stress easily.
How are you planning to celebrate Garden Day this year?
What I personally love about Garden Day (which is taking place on 17 October this year) is the making of the flower crowns. For me, being social with a purpose is way more enjoyable than just sitting around talking about tedious things. This year I will have a small family celebration with my husband and my four adult children and their partners.
What is currently growing in your garden?
A beautiful show of Petria and Irises as well as romantic climbing roses. My white bougainvillea is starting to bloom which makes me extremely happy.
Do you have a favourite flower or are there any you love to illustrate in particular?
At the moment the Helleborus Fire and Ice is my favourite. I research flowers online and sometimes I discover the most jaw dropping specimens. When I do not have access to a good photograph of a flower I do an illustration either with watercolours and colour pencil or on the Procreate drawing app on my iPad Pro.
What is the process for creating a piece?
After I receive the brief, I make a rough design. Once it is approved I start looking for a mode. When the model is approved I plan the shoot by looking for a suitable outfit for her to wear by searching in shops and looking online. After that, props have to be found – anywhere and everywhere. Once the photoshoot is done we start deep-etching our model and the first part is done. I do a lot of research online to put together an idea of what I would like to see blooming in the garden. Plants need to be photographed and old botanical drawings accessible within the public domain need to be found and touched up. Slowly but surely my assistant, Donovan Drodskie, and I start building up the background and foreground, plant by plant by superimposing images on top of each other in Adobe Photoshop. Highlights and shadows need to be added everywhere to create a realistic digital “collage”. Finally the crown is carefully created by using indigenous flowers and foliage.
Do you stick to one particular medium?
I work with photography, found images, botanical illustrations as well as illustrations done by me. It’s quite an extensive process of moving in between ideas and mediums.
What are your plans for the future?
Art and design has been a constant in my life and have seen me through the worst of times as well as the best of times. I will carry on being creative until I drop.
Are there any local artists you admire?
I love the work of Caryn Scrimgeour, Mohau Modisakeng and Zimbabwean artist Kudzanai Chiurai. Although they seem very different to each other, they have a common thread that really speaks to me.
Where can people see your work?
My work is always on show at manzart Franschhoek and can also now be seen at manzart Hermanus, Reuben’s & co, Val de Vie, Paarl and manzartplus Franschhoek.
For more information, visit karinmiller.co.za