Meet the Makers: Carly Kurka


Meet the Makers: Carly Kurka

Carly Kurka is a printmaker residing in St. Louis, MO. Her current work includes multi-colored flats of color that are gridded out to form a shape. With a concentration in geology and various forms of nature, she abstracts natural and organic forms into her composition. She considers her shape of choice as a “diamond grenade," and her palette choices are often an almost monochrome set of a hue with a pop of color. The form’s implied 3D surfaces are caused by strategically planned hues. Multiple surfaces of the blocks in her work are sometimes collaged as well. Carly further integrates her nature background by using handmade paper in sections of her collaged monoprints. Minimalism and simplicity are important to Carly as her main focus includes color theory and shape. Carly’s work includes all three elements of painting, drawing, and printmaking. Get to know this amazing artist better below!

Chiix & Co.: When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in art??

Carly Kurka: I’ve always thought I needed to do something in art but in college it became real. I kept trying to fight it, but I ended up taking as many art classes as I could. Ultimately I received a Bachelor in Fine Arts with emphasis in Printmaking, Painting, and Drawing. I also received a minor in Art History and Archeology.

C&C: What are some of the driving forces behind your style?

CK: My major forces are color and form. I am beyond obsessed with color. I play with different palettes and combinations. I love the relationships between different colors and what they can evoke. My form of choice is abstracted rock and geode structures. I am extremely interested in these elements from my background in archeology. I love the way that color can change the perspective on my forms.

C&C: Pursuing a life and career in art is not easy feat. What are some of the struggles you've encounter since you started selling your artwork?

CK: It is hard to know what a consumer wants. Some of my favorite pieces are not super popular and some pieces I am less interested in sell like crazy. I think that it is important to be true to yourself but also to be aware of the public demands. Finding that middle ground is hard but I’m still learning. My pieces are like my children and I just want the best for them and to find a good home.

C&C: What are some of your most prideful moments as an artist?

CK: Some of my most prideful moments are some sales I’ve had. One of my first ever sales was to Estee Lauder Headquarters in NYC. I was so stoked to have my work in such a large corporation. Another memorable sale was to a client in Japan. I was so happy my work was going over seas. I also just recently finished up a commission with Royal Caribbean cruise lines. It was really awesome working with a team that knew an idea of what they wanted but I got to really play with it. I just want my work to make it out in the world and at least to inspire others.


C&C: Tell us more about your monoprints. What's your favorite part about the process and what's your least favorite part?

CK: My favorite part about making my work is mixing colors and coming up with new palleetes. Although I have some standby favorite palettes, I love coming up with new color combos and finally putting it on the paper. Since my work is all one of a kind I can tweak colors for a completely new print next. My least favorite process of printing is clean up. As a printmaker, there is a lot of cleaning required. In my work I need to clean my plates, the slab, the press, the brayers, palate knives and pack up all of my inks. Depending on how ambitious I’m feeling it can turn into a disaster clean up wise. At the end of the day I am checked out mentally and the last thing I want to do is take an hour to clean up.

C&C: Favorite food or drink to fuel your creativity?

CK: Caffeine and carbs. When I have a full day of printing I like to push through. I start my date with a coffee or soda. Bad, bad I know. I have a super light lunch because I always feel so crazy focused until I am completely finished with the project. When I’m done with the day, I crave the carbs. Honestly, a sandwich or pizza always does the trick for me. 

C&C: What's one thing you wished people knew about your artwork?

CK: That each compostion I create is first made into a collage. I collage out my compositions with white paper before I start doing any printing to see if I like the form without color. I am very particular about my compositions. If they pass the no color test then I know I can live with them and progress with color. It’s a exercise I've been using since the beginning.


C&C: What appealed to you about being a part of Chiix & Co.?

CK: The girl gang! I missed my girl gang of artists from college as we all went on to different cities doing different projects and endevours with our art. I love that this is a community of female only artists who promote each other. It feels amazing to be in a community of women makers. The difficulty we face as women is easier to endure when we work together. This platform opens up an important dialogue and creates a platform to highlight these women artists and their daily lives.

C&C: What's next for your career as an independent artist?

CK: In December I am headed to Miami be a part of a show called Ink with Pele Prints. My work will be shown in this art fair that is printmaking only. My work has never been shown in a context that is exclusively printmaking. I am so excited for my work to be in this show! 


Favorite color?
Yellow! But my favorite color combo (which I use often) is blue and orange.
Go-to coffee order?
Caramel Frappuccino 
Dream vacation destination?
Dogs or cats?
Dogs, I have a little mutt named Vienna
Snapchat or Instagram?
Snapchat, although I totally overshare
Favorite season?
Fall, shout out!
Make art in silence or rock out?
Rock out, folk music to 80s!
Libation of choice?
Craft beer… and drinking it while making art
Favorite thing about art?

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Carly Kurka (b.1989) is a contemporary artist based in St. Louis, Missouri. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting, Drawing, and Printmaking from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She also received a minor in Art History and Archeology. In addition to her studio practice, Carly works as a printer at Pele Prints, a collaborative printmaking studio based in St. Louis. Carly works directly with her mentor, Amanda Verbeck, a collaborative print publisher.  She sells her art pieces in a handful of galleries and boutiques as well as on Chiix & Co. If you need some new modern art pieces that will make a statement.

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