Twenty-one-year-old Utah-native Karly Tingey went from being an introverted toddler who loved finger-painting with her twin to a social-networking butterfly whose creative recreation caught the eye of Cliché. With her warm smile, vibrant locks, and stellar sense of style, Tingey embodies the epitome of her work—a dream girl. We talk more about the beneficial use of Instagram, her current art series, and some very pretty ladies.
Cliché: Can you tell me a little about yourself?
Karly Tingey: Well I’m 21, from Utah, and I’ve lived here for most of my life. A few months ago I moved to Park City, Utah and started working as a graphic designer at an awesome web design agency, and it’s been a fascinating experience so far. I learn new things every day, and it’s so great that my job lets me be free creatively. Park City is such a charming little ski town; I just feel inspired all the time living up in the mountains surrounded by snow and cabins.
Where did your artistic journey begin?
I’ve been into art as long as I can remember. My identical twin sister and I were both pretty quiet, timid kids, and we were never that keen on playing with other noisy children. Instead, we’d spend hours and hours at the kitchen table together making huge messes with this finger-paint set our mom bought us. She and dad have always been the biggest supporters of our creativity. As we grew up, we moved on to pencils and actual paint brushes, which are still my weapons of choice today. My twin has since migrated into the realm of photography and fashion.
Are you completely self taught or did you study art? If the latter, where did you study?
I didn’t go to school specifically for art, but I wouldn’t say I’m completely self taught because I took every art class from kindergarten through college very seriously. I’ve thought about going to art school (RISD would obviously be a dream), but I hesitate because I’ve found that my creativity abandons me entirely in a structured school environment. I did two years of general studies in southern Utah, and even though I was taking elective art classes, they were the two unhappiest years of my life. I definitely feel more cheerful and healthy when I have total freedom with my art, and I’m much more inclined to study the work of others and practice on my own time. I think I absorb things better that way.
What techniques do you use?
I draw inspiration from so many different artists; I’m constantly screen-capping Instagrams from artists I follow, and then when I’m starting a piece, I scroll through my photos and pick which of their techniques I want to incorporate with my own. I get so bored with artwork that is always done in the same style; there’s certainly value to working that way, but personally I try to use at least one different technique every time, whether it’s in how I shade a figure, how messy I make my lines, or how I apply color.
Do you try to create daily or feed solely off inspiration?
Creating art every day is extremely difficult, and I’m so impressed by people who can do it. If I can create something about once a week, I feel pretty damn great about it. Making the time to draw can be tricky because once I start a drawing, I get so involved that it’s hard to focus on anything else until it’s finished. I just get so excited. But I’ve found that the more I draw, the easier it is to conjure up good ideas, so I really strive to make something at least that often, otherwise I start feeling a bit depressed.
You have been working on a “Dream Girl Series” recently; could you tell me more about this?
My Dream Girl series stemmed from one drawing I did this summer, largely inspired by Rachel Urquhart (@raychponygold on Instagram) whose drawings often feature super stylized girls framed by ornate circular backgrounds. I was completely mesmerized by her work when I discovered it, so I attempted to make something similar in my own style. In doing so, I hit this goldmine of ideas for related pieces. I guess that’s how it turned into a series. I think doing a series has kept me really excited because I constantly have something interesting to work on. It’s also been fun for me to spread them out over time, because with each new Dream Girl I have new influences. It’ll be cool at the end (whenever that may be) to see how they transform throughout the series.
How do you pick and choose which women to include in your series? Or are they from your own imagination?
All the women included so far are other artists from Instagram, one being model Chloe Norgaard who inspired the idea to draw all the girls with bright colored hair (she also inspired me to start dying my own hair bright about three years ago, so there’s multiple levels of artsy for you). I just don’t think there’s anyone in this world who isn’t captivated by pretty ladies, and I become especially captivated when those ladies can create art that’s equally as beautiful as themselves. However, I’m not going to limit my subjects to artists only. Some might be models and some might be people I know.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I spend more time on Instagram than any normal person should, but it really is a constant stream of inspiration to me. I’ve discovered incredible artists located all around the world whose work will appear on my Instafeed and suddenly I’ll feel an overwhelming urge to sit down at my drawing desk and try that style or that line quality. I also have a special place in my heart for photography; I follow several talented photographers on Instagram, and I’ll get lots of ideas from how they compose and edit their subjects.
What would you like for your art to say about you?
That’s a tough question. I guess my hope is that people will see my artwork and be able to get a glimpse of the way I personally view the world, or how I wish the world was. In a way, I hope that people attach my creations to their impression of me, because they’re really the truest expression of who I am and what I love most. I don’t know exactly what I want it to say about me. I just want it to inspire people the same way other artists inspire me.
What are your future plans or hopes for your artistic career?
Well, I plan to continue making art until I’m so old that my eyes and hands won’t let me. Drawing and painting will always be my way of relaxing and having fun, so I’d like to keep it a hobby rather than a career. Whatever career path I take, I know it will be something in the creative world though—something that allows me that artistic freedom I need to stay happy. I think digital design is a fabulous option for me, because it requires an eye for balance, color, composition, and style—basically everything fine art requires—and there seems to be a high demand for that kind of skill. Honestly, I’ll feel good about my life as long as I’m always learning new things and enjoying the work I’m doing.
To see more of Karly’s work, follow her on Instagram @karlyfries
Karly Tingey’s interview originally appeared in Cliché Magazine’s December/January 2014 issue.
Images courtesy of Karly Tingey.