Wednesday, 26 September 2012

A Funky Scottish Story - Q&A with Karen Edward

Introducing...Karen Edward, founder, owner and resident artist at Funky Scottish.  In this Q+A, Karen shares her own story about becoming an artist, launching her business, overcoming inevitable challenges and continuing to nurture an ongoing love affair with her craft...

The East Neuk has become your home. Tell us a little about your background?
I was born in St Andrews and went to Madras College.  I graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone Art College in Dundee with honours in Drawing and Painting. I also lived on The Isle of Mull and worked in a painting school there for some time. 
Duncan Of Jordanstone Art College, Dundee
Isle of Mull
What's your artistic speciality?
My speciality is in observing and painting all the things around me that I love.  It’s all incorporated into my work, so location is really important to me, as is my language in describing the things I love the most.  I love to work with ceramics too but I am predominantly a painter.
How did you learn your craft?
I had very little money but I slowly saved up to buy my first kiln.  I then did a stint at a local pottery.  Ultimately, I taught myself how to use ceramic paints and I worked on glazing and firing, learning and tweaking as I slowly but surely progressed.

How did you discover your passion for art and crafts?
My parents are both artists.  My mum’s a painter and my father was a sculptor.  Both of my parents went to Duncan of Jordanstone, so I grew up in a very artistic household. 

Karen in Funky Scottish

When did you open Funky Scottish?
I opened the Funky Scottish gallery and boutique in 2005. I’d been working as an artist for a long time before that. Throughout my life, I’d been selling paintings through other galleries but it was a big breakthrough to open Funky Scottish and have a place of my own. Now, a decade later, I've fulfilled another dream...creating a little cafe within Funky Scottish!  We've recently opened the cafe, which serves up satisfying savouries (home-made soups + tasty filled rolls) and a range of scrumptious, homemade cakes.  Take a peek at our 'Cake Gallery'.

How did you discover Pittenweem?
Well, I’d taken part in the Pittenweem Arts Festival.  Also, I moved from the Isle of Mull to Cellardyke – which is just a couple of villages away from Pittenweem.  I was given the chance to have a studio at the back of a shop in Pittenweem...that has since become Funky Scottish!
Why did you think the village would be the perfect location for your shop?
The arts festival is a huge part of having a business in Pittenweem. It’s a beautiful village, a great artistic community, which has been built up around the studio of the famed painter John McGee.  So many people come through the village. 
Pittenweem Harbour by artist, John McGhie
How did you find the experience of launching the business?
I opened the business during a time which, as it happened, was very challenging in my personal life.  So, it was a huge learning curve, yet the launch of Funky Scottish was also the catalyst for a wonderful rebirth of sorts. It’s been a life changing experience.  Funky Scottish was going to be my main source of income, so the early stages of launching the business was financially challenging.  It was a very slow, steady and progressive build up.  On the other hand, this made each new success more rewarding; artists getting in touch, people wanting to be part of Funky Scottish.  It was all really exciting and this provided me with the impetus to keep going. 

For you, what makes Pittenweem and the East Neuk so special?
I’ve always lived beside the sea and spent my life on the beach.  I’m always drawn to living beside the sea.  I love everything to do with the coast and the East Neuk is one of the most beautiful places to live in Scotland – unique architecture, the incredible history….I just love it!!
Karen's Coast - Pittenweem & East Neuk
You source art & crafts from around Scotland – how do you know which ones to choose?
The gallery of artists featured in the boutique evolves very naturally. All of the pieces stocked by Funky Scottish are made by friends, family and artists from around Scotland, hence the name!  You’ll find a really eclectic mix of art, ceramics, note cards, jewellery, a small range of fair trade clothing and all kinds of really unique little trinkets and crafts.
Arts & crafts on display in Funky Scottish
Where did you get the inspiration for the quirky, funky style of your shop?
The weirdest thing for me is that I actually had the concept for Funky Scottish a very long time ago.  The name just popped into my head and I had this idea that I would run a business making and selling ceramics, artwork, cards and so on.  It started with a daydream and it all just seemed to take off from there. 

Do you have any events or interesting projects coming up?
Yes, I’m on the visual arts committee with Pittenweem Arts Festival, which is an ongoing and very important project for me.  I’ve also been asked to become involved in illustrating books for gifted children which is really exciting and I’m also working on new designs, collections and bespoke ceramics

Can you buy online?
Yes, you can!  If you go to you can purchase personalised ceramics and commemorative plates.  I’m also working on extending the range of products available online. 
Commemorative Plate by Karen Edward
Are you inspired by any particular artists?
I love Scottish colourists.  I’m really inspired by The Glasgow Boys, a group of painters with strong ties to the city, who became famous in the 1800s.
What are the greatest rewards of your work?

It just makes me so happy when people receive their commissions and they really love them. It’s so rewarding to see that my work puts a smile on their face.  Some clients are so delighted that they send me pictures – for example I’m often sent photos of newly decorated kitchens, featuring tile panels I created for them. If my customers and clients are happy, I’m delighted!  More recently, it's been a pleasure to see the cafe at Funky Scottish welcomed by so many locals and visitors.  The outdoor seating on the village square brings a continental vibe to Pittenweem, especially on a beautiful sunny day!

There’s lots of advice out there for start up businesses, but specifically, what advice would you give to anyone wishing to become a professional artist, who may even launch a cafe-gallery-boutique like Funky Scottish?

You must have faith in yourself and really believe in what you do.  Also, you need to be incredibly determined, be prepared to face times where nobody might buy your work or when you will face the unforseen challenges of being an artist AND business manager-owner. Artists often feel compelled to turn their passion into their business - earning a living doing what you love is so appealing! Then suddenly, you are consumed by the demands of running the business and you risk losing focus on your original love – creating art.  So it’s a balance. Eventually, you have to step back and return to working on your business, rather than spending too much time working in your business.  This may mean asking for help with the day-to-day stuff, rather than trying to juggle it all yourself…but if you’re getting to do what you truly love, it’s really worth it!

Discover more inspiration from Karen Edward and Funky Scottish via  our facebook page,

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