Studio Briefs – Karin Mansberg

Memories about growing up in the countryside and experiences of being in nature are the inspirations for my illustrations.

I draw from observation as a starting point but when I work on the final images, I move away from observation and try to channel a more personal, remembered experience instead. I often try to portray nature through the memories I have collected: memories of flowers growing in my childhood garden, learning about the plants by picking them apart – these are few of the mental images I draw from when making prints, collages or designing patterns. Staying connected, through my art, with the place where I grew up, has been important after I moved away from Estonia.

I did my schooling and some undergraduate studies in Art History and Criticism in Estonia where I grew up, before coming to the United States. The analytical and creative work go hand in hand: I would not be content concentrating on one or the other only. I earned an MFA in Illustration from Western Connecticut State University. Over the past ten years, I have enjoyed teaching children and adults in various settings from college, craft workshops to forest school. I am interested in creative thinking in learning and how to help students with problem-solving.

The first two encounters with my preferred medium of relief print were not pleasant. The very first time I made a linocut print while attending children’s art school at 11-years old was a print of a jaybird. I could not stand how the print looked. My second encounter with the same medium, a woodcut, was in college. Again, I was not pleased with the final images.

Looking back, I see the mistakes I made and the truth is, I did not fall in love with the relief print medium from the start. 

The most challenging pieces are the ones that never seem to be “done.” Sometimes editing my work is the hardest part.

I have shown my art in curated groups and solo exhibitions in Connecticut, New York City, and North Carolina. In 2019 one of my printed fabric collages was published in Uppercase magazine #39, in the Design and Art gallery of Heartfelt. I used to teach small workshops in Danbury, but I had always wanted to teach printmaking classes at a craft center and was invited by a fellow-illustrator, Kanika Khurana, who worked as a registrar, to teach printmaking at the Brookfield Craft Center. Ever since, I have been teaching classes to both children and adults at the BCC.

Story written by Terry Tougas and Karin Mansberg