North London based illustrator, Karis Richards, launches her first greetings card range this summer. Her illustrations of modern day icons include Beyonce, Kanye, Destiny’s Child and Mariah. Here she shares her process, her experience of being part of a mentorship programme and advice for those who want to launch a product.
Hi Karis, we’re so excited about the launch of your greetings cards range. Can you tell us how you got to this point? How did you decide on the subject matter?
[KARIS] Ahh, it’s so exciting! I started digitally illustrating a couple years ago now and began sharing my work over on Instagram. At first my illustrations were just limited to social media and then I began to think of other ways I could share my work which led me to the idea of greetings cards. In a weird way, I think my subject matter was almost decided for me, I’ve always found my comfort in pop culture so it was only right that this first collection depicted that.
Our favourite card from the range has to be the Destiny’s Child inspired 'Sleigh My Name' from the Christmas range. What’s your process for coming up with these exemplary puns?
[KARIS] It’s never too early to talk about Christmas right?! I usually have a rough idea of the subject for the card and then I try and brainstorm a message to fit with the occasion. This definitely involves a lot of singing in my head. I have to say I sound way more like Beyoncé in my head then I do aloud.
We hear you’re really into greetings cards. What do you look for in a card?
[KARIS] You could say that! I’m racking up quite the collection, I’ve saved every card I’ve received for the last 15 years (& I think I may need to look into getting storage space soon.) When I’m looking for a card, I really think it depends on the person in mind to receive it. I want to make it personal and fun, almost like our own little paper inside joke.
You’ve recently graduated from the Creative Mentorship Network x Soho Impact programme. Congratulations! Can you tell us a bit about the programme and about this part of your journey?
[KARIS] Woo! Thank you! Creative Mentor Network have created the Soho Impact Programme where they pair a Mentee with a Mentor in a similar creative field to the one they aspire to get into. It’s been an opportunity to really understand the jobs within the creative industry and given me the opportunity to network with a lot of like minded creatives. I think I was very stuck before joining this scheme, I had an idea of what I wanted to do but no idea how to execute it. I cannot be thankful enough for the blessing I received with my mentor, Sidonie. Having the chance to have this support has really helped me excel in having confidence in myself and this collection. I may have graduated from the scheme but I’m hoping I have a mentor in Sidonie for a very long time.
You’re literally on the brink of sharing your babies with the world! Advice for anyone who is gearing up for the same thing?
[KARIS] So close! I think the only advice I could give is to be patient and to trust in your product. I think creating something that you’re happy with is key. Having confidence in yourself and your product takes time but it is so worth the wait when you get to share something you feel so strongly about. I’ve also been fortunate enough to have support both in my mentor and with friends/family. I don’t think I could’ve gotten to this stage without them.
You’re quite an inspiration to us, balancing work at Camden’s Roundhouse with freelance illustration work and creating your products. How do you do it? Tips for success?
[KARIS] I am lucky enough to love every aspect of my working life. Don’t get me wrong, I go through many a patch of wanting to call in sick and spend a week in bed binge watching Netflix but I think I’d be crazy not to. I somehow get paid to be surrounded by live music at The Roundhouse and to create things both freelance and with this card range. I think loving what you do will always make things that little bit easier. The only tips I can give is to believe in your ideas and to trust in the journey. Great things take time.
Anything is possible. Share five goals you’d love to have achieved in the next five years.
[KARIS] My first goal is being able to share this collection, one that I’ll be able to achieve very soon. I’d also love to create more and understand myself more as a creative. I’d love to see my cards stocked in stores and being loved as well as having a pop up store of my own. I am a strong believer of manifesting my future so I like to write these things down. I think I could list my future goals for a while. One thing I’m sure of is that I’m very excited for the next five years.
Will you share another inspiring female creator with us?
[KARIS] Only one?!
I’d like to share Aisha Ayoade who is the Co-founder and editor of @yellowzine. Yellow Zine is a print and online publication that centralises the artwork of ethnic minority creatives. Having published two Editions, Illustration and Photography (one in which I was fortunate to be featured in.) Aisha has helped create a platform for BME artists around the UK to proudly share their visions.