We discovered Karen Goins via INSTAGRAM and fell in love. The illustrator tells us why she works with markers and explains her infatuation with eyewear. 

How did your passion for eyewear come about?

My passion for eyewear began nearly 15 years ago, when I purchased my first luxury eyewear from Selima Optique in Japan. I had bought a pretty pink frame that outlasted all my frames I ever owned. I had never received so many compliments and remarks over my eyeglasses before this particular frame. And from then on, I purchased only high quality eyewear.

Were you trained in drawing?

My background is in fine arts, specifically oil painting. I got my B.F.A at The College of William and Mary and my M.F.A at The University of Hawaii, where my family resided at the time. I did figurative work and eventually focused on self-portraiture and did some work in landscape. My interest was fusing my Eastern and Western identities using visual aesthetics of both cultures on canvas.

Have you always worked in markers?

Markers are a new medium for me. I started using markers 4 months ago. When I moved from Hawaii to Japan/Taiwan nearly 10 years ago I somewhat retired from painting and art-making. I still travel back to Hawaii where I taught at the university and based my artistic career. It was too much work to ship and carry work back to my dealer, so I just stopped.

It wasn’t until earlier this year, I began pencil sketching eyewear for fun. My interest became more involved and I then began exploring options. I started using sharpies which have a distinct dry and harsh line. Later, I found copic markers, which have a wet and fluid line. I mix the two at times to achieve what I want. Copic markers work well with my particular painterly background. I feel like a student to these markers because I’m learning the full potential in handling the medium to its best potential. It’s fun, and I’ve enjoyed how my little sketches have a world and a life through IG.

What inspires your work?

Right now, I just look at a lot of images and kind of visually shop around to see what I want to sketch. I have a long bucket list. I visit a lot of optical and eyewear guru galleries to see what interests them. I look at specific eyewear brands and at their ‘tagged’ photos to see what other images I could find. Eyewear is such a part of fashion, so I bounce from IG accounts by fashion bloggers to designers. I spend a lot of time just browsing. It helps when I have a topic or a theme I want to explore. I’m still figuring things out, but most importantly I am having fun with it.

Who would be your dream artist to collaborate with?

That’s a hard one, because I have looked at a lot of figurative artists. If you asked me while I was still painting, I would have said Freud or Giacometti, because I want to know how they worked. Even though the finished artwork is crazy and beyond beautiful, I want to witness their mind acting out in front of the canvas. I wouldn’t want to collaborate, it is not my place. I just want to be a fly on the wall and watch them work.

What is your favorite piece of art you own?

I haven’t purchased an artwork of my own, because I don’t feel I can be responsible with it. It’s strange. Nearly my entire family is in the arts or fashion, so I’m incredibly lucky to be influenced in that way, but I never had a desire to purposefully seek and purchase artwork. However, I have been given important antiques. From that collection, I have a beautiful ceramic ink well used by a famous emperor from China which includes a beautiful golden spoon. As an artistic tool, I really treasure its significance in history and tradition.

We love seeing your adorable pups on your instagram! If your dogs wore eyewear, what style would they wear?

I have two dachshunds and their names are Bollo and Bella . Gosh, they are hilarious and most importantly true characters. If Bella wore a frame, it would be a red cat eye, because she is truly a diva. She doesn’t want to bother with you unless she needs something, and doesn’t like to listen, unless it benefits her. She’s a riot, but a lady none-the-less. Bollo, on the other hand, is so needy. I purposefully avoid him because he just cries for attention. He wants to be held all the time, as if that is my job. He would wear a big, black and square frame. He is just a goof.


Want to find out more about Karen? Follow her on INSTAGRAM