41: Recreations of Perfection with Watercolorist Kara Voorhees

41: Recreations of Perfection with Watercolorist Kara Voorhees

Posted by Nicholas Ribera on

Kara Voorhees shares her journey as a watercolorist and the challenges and joys of working with watercolors. She discusses her background in art, her experiences with different mediums, and how she discovered her love for watercolors. Kara also talks about the importance of marketing oneself as a watercolorist and the materials and tools she uses for her artwork. She explains her process for making prints of her paintings and the importance of accessibility in art. Finally, she shares her methods for photographing and archiving her paintings. In this conversation, Kara Voorhees discusses her experience with printing and selling her artwork, as well as her journey as a writer and self-published author. She shares her process for ordering prints, including the importance of trial prints and tracking inventory. Kara also talks about her solo art show at Disco Dolls and her upcoming book titled 'Priestess'. She highlights the themes and setting of the book, as well as her plans for its release.

You can listen to the episode here (or wherever you listen to podcasts) or read the transcript below:

A Conversation with Kara Voorhees:

Chain Assembly (00:02.461)

So then I decided I'll just bite him back. So today we have with us, Kara Voorhees. Kara's an incredible painter, watercolor and acrylic primarily, right?

Kara Voorhees (00:06.774)

I'm sorry.

Kara Voorhees (00:16.906)

I have gotten so into watercolor, I dabbled a little bit with ink and acrylic. It's purely watercolor now. I'm too comfortable in my medium, man. It's crazy.

Chain Assembly (00:24.183)

Oh wow, okay.

Chain Assembly (00:28.301)

Well, you've really become quite a ninja, I guess, an expert in the watercolor. It's like your color layering, your flow, it doesn't look like what you would expect from watercolor. And that's what's really exciting about it. I guess, you know, when you see when you think of watercolor, you think of something done in about 30 minutes. Yours definitely don't feel that way.

Kara Voorhees (00:33.046)

Oh, thank you.

Kara Voorhees (00:40.76)


Kara Voorhees (00:49.062)

Yeah, washy, washy. A lot of people think of watercolor as like this sort of panoramic, washy, not that plain air isn't beautiful, doesn't result in beautiful pieces, but that's what people tend to think of. And I, for some reason, I think maybe because I'm self-taught, I circumnavigated that washiness.

Chain Assembly (01:14.846)

Well, let's get into all of that, but first let's start off with when you and I first met, because I think it might have been art pool.

Kara Voorhees (01:23.406)

I think so, yeah. Oh, yes, yes. Crafty fast markets, 100%, that was it. That was it. I'd seen your work. I knew who you were and I'd seen your work. But I don't think in person in real life that maybe 2019 would have been the date.

Chain Assembly (01:30.127)


Chain Assembly (01:39.485)

Oh, yeah, that was that was definitely pre pandemic. And yeah, those crafty fest markets were a lot of fun. It was nice just because it felt like a hangout, you know, like it felt like a show and tell great spaces. And I remember you came up to me and you said.

Kara Voorhees (01:43.2)


Kara Voorhees (01:47.554)

Yeah, we're so fun.

Kara Voorhees (01:52.49)

Yes, yes. Yep. There were so many days my husband wasn't there.

Chain Assembly (02:01.385)

Mm-hmm. Yeah, I remember you came up to my booth and you said, is this an original watercolor? I said, yeah. And you said, why are you charging so little for it? And I was like, I don't know. I don't know what you're supposed to charge for a watercolor. So that made me not only up the price but also spend more time on my watercolors to make them feel like they're not a digital painting.

to try and make it look like the hours I spent translates to the price. So just that one question really made me rethink how I approach that as a medium.

Kara Voorhees (02:41.106)

And this makes me now rethink how brash and rude to go up to an artist and say, you should be charging more. But I do, I did benefit in the beginning of my art journey from having other artists like positively bully me that way. So it may have just been me. I also like your rendit, like your watercolor use is masterful. So it's not washy washy. So.

Chain Assembly (02:47.601)

Well that's not rude!

Chain Assembly (02:59.023)


Kara Voorhees (03:10.646)

That's probably where that question came from, too.

Chain Assembly (03:12.778)

I don't think I would use the term masterful. I don't consider myself a watercolorist. It's one of the tools in my arsenal, but I'm not a watercolorist.

Kara Voorhees (03:16.371)


Kara Voorhees (03:23.598)

Was it probably like an ink and watercolor or a digital print that you embellished with watercolor?

Chain Assembly (03:32.821)

So what it was what hard to say. I started doing watercolor. So I started doing watercolor because I couldn't. I was used to digital and with digital, I'm like, I don't like it red. Let me try green. I don't like a green. Let me try a blue. It's really easy to swap out the colors. And so I started thinking, well, if I wanted to do that in real life, I should try printmaking.

Kara Voorhees (03:38.454)

Okay, yeah, I'm asking you to remember this really.

Chain Assembly (04:01.197)

as just the outline of something and then fill it in with colors. So that's kind of how I got into watercolor because I wanted to do the printing method with something that would repel the watercolor. And so I was doing that just got me trying the oil-based inks with the printmaking. And so with the one that you that I probably had hanging up there, that was a print I did with winding it even further back.

Kara Voorhees (04:14.965)


Chain Assembly (04:31.169)

I had a custom hot stamp made for a run of discs for Disc Golf, and that was a magnesium etched die plate, and I used that die plate to do the printing with oil-based ink so that I could water color on top of it with washes and it would just fill in the areas between the ink. And now I can do each one a different color. And that's how I got into watercolor, because I couldn't decide on the appropriate colors for an image.

Kara Voorhees (04:36.643)



Kara Voorhees (04:48.637)


Kara Voorhees (04:57.354)

Okay, that's a great, a lot of people dive into it and I think they're going for what I call like the washy or the wash. And the way you got into it is more illustrated to me, which is I think the best way to use watercolor, but that is obviously my own personal experience.

Chain Assembly (05:18.286)

Well tell me then about your personal experience. How did you discover your love for watercolors?

Kara Voorhees (05:26.43)

So I had been my whole life the kid that drew like just always like you know I had drawings taken off of me in class that kind of thing Really got it was a weird kid So a little bit of a loner and I would like get these books on tape at the library pop them in my walkman and Draw for hours and a really great like prisoner color and my grandparents totally just blessed me with this like

I don't know how many, maybe 120 pencils or something. And I would just do that for hours and hours and hours, well into my teens. And then I got into college and I was really excited. I was like a nerd and I was really excited and I took like 21 credits my first semester because I was just like, oh, I wanna learn about this, I wanna learn about this. And one of them was an intro to drawing class. And it's not this woman's fault. I think she was going through something personally, but she like killed my love of art.

Chain Assembly (06:24.518)


Kara Voorhees (06:25.462)

Um, nothing I did was good enough. Um, just, just really like, and I think it like bothered her that I was doing it as an extracurricular because my degree is in journalism and English. And so that, and I felt really like an outsider. And so I, and I had these, I had a set of pastels and I would do like, people would come up to me and I would do these like little mermaid sketches and people would say like, oh, can you do one for my dorm room or whatever? But other than that, there's a big drop off between the ages of like,

1920 to roughly like 26, 27. And I'm 37, so 10 years ago. And I wanted this tattoo and I wanted it to be like a certain and I always like tell people I'm like, sometimes people ask me if they can have my work tattooed on them and I always say, you can, but go into that tattoo studio with nothing but respect for tattooists.

because their work is insane and they're probably gonna design something more attuned to what you think you want than I am. But I wanted to come in with a concept. And so I sat down with a pencil and it was like this slow little thing, like every day I would come home from work and I would sit down with this pen. And it wasn't even the tattoo anymore. It was like this therapeutic rekindling of this thing inside me. And so it was like a downward spiral.

or a upward trajectory, however you want to look at it. Okay, now we're gonna move to some really nice ink pens. Okay, now we're gonna move to watercolor markers. And then one day I just bought a tube of watercolor and a palette, the little water wells, they're best if they're made of porcelain, and a tube and a brush. And I didn't look back. And I just, I fell in love with the medium. I don't, a lot of people say, oh, why'd you choose it, why'd you choose it?

Well, a lot of good tattooing or the style that I like is heavy on the line work. And then so a lot of tattooists that do actually make art themselves, like non-skin, they tend to do ink and watercolor, or that's what I was seeing at the time. And I was like, I really like that style. And then little by little, ink went away. And the line work that I was doing, that was all replaced by thinner, more delicate watercolor strokes. And...

Kara Voorhees (08:52.126)

And then of course, you know, you just start to like dip your toe in the community. You know, I did like one art show, one art show, met this person, met that person. And now it's almost 10 years later. And I like, I can't live without it. In fact, I've been going through like this period where I haven't had a lot of time for art and it like my mental health is reflective on it. Like it's so important to me and it's a practice, but that's okay. This is seasonal thing and it's coming to an end.

But yeah, that's my history with watercolor. I think, I feel like it chose me. Not me chose it, but I'm happy. I'm happy because I've tried acrylic. I've tried, I did play with ink a lot in the beginning and that was fun, but I felt like I got more out of purely watercolor pieces and you could not pay me to try oil. I think it is so impressive when people render something in oil.

Chain Assembly (09:26.279)

That was beautiful.

Chain Assembly (09:44.398)

I'm gonna go.

Kara Voorhees (09:49.034)

but I will never, I just have no, like no, no thank you.

Chain Assembly (09:53.889)

That's a beautiful story. So with that in mind, I want to ask you, do you find it easy to market yourself or describe yourself based on the fact that you can say, I do watercolors, rather than saying you do a whole bunch of stuff?

Kara Voorhees (09:55.918)

I'm sorry.

Kara Voorhees (10:12.408)

Yes, I introduce myself and this may be like a weird hair to split, but I introduce myself as a watercolorist as much if not more than as an artist. Because it's like, and people who are creatives can represent them. There is no like hard and fast rule. The only thing I would ever say is don't downplay yourself.

Chain Assembly (10:22.629)


Kara Voorhees (10:35.446)

Like start introducing yourself. A professional artist once told me, start introducing yourself as an artist. And I took that advice and ran with it nine, 10 years ago. Whether or not I was showing at the time, I am an artist. And then I really, the term watercolorist, I don't even know if it's in the dictionary, but it's been thrown around. And I started to adopt that because it really is my brand. I mean, if I had a brand, I would say my...

Chain Assembly (10:56.809)


Kara Voorhees (11:04.274)

specific niche is like aquatic watercolors. I do mermaids, octopuses, I do sea turtles, and they're usually like in that zone. Right now I'm actually painting something that isn't underwater and it's wild. But that is like, that's how I identify as a watercolorist. And I feel like the more I leaned into that, the more that I have, I guess the term brand feels a little bit lofty because it's

Um, you know, I, I am an artist. Um, yeah, I guess that's my, that's my, that's my thing. That's my thing is watercolor. And there's some great other like local water colorists that are like Curtis Whitwam, Oh my God. Um, but yeah, that's, that's how I identify. And I believe Curtis does too.

Chain Assembly (11:38.025)


Chain Assembly (11:53.881)

I like that, because I can tell you, because I do so many different things, I describe myself as an illustrator, which doesn't... thank you, but it covers maybe like 60% of what I do, if that, like barely a majority. Probably not even 60, because maybe I'm... I mean, I guess technically my copyright, which I just recently did, or my trademark, is all under printing services.

Kara Voorhees (12:01.57)

That's a great term for you.

Chain Assembly (12:23.033)

So maybe I'm more technically a printer, if that makes sense. But like, so I do envy your ability to easily say a word and people know exactly what they're getting. So let me ask you then about.

Kara Voorhees (12:24.317)

Oh, yeah!


You're a renaissance man.

Kara Voorhees (12:43.8)

And in return, I admire all these multimedia folks. Go ahead, sorry.

Chain Assembly (12:49.469)

No, no, it's okay. It's okay. So I know we have chatted a bit about materials, but like watercolor materials is such an important thing. It's like with acrylic, you can get away with like shitty paint, but you can't really do that with watercolor. So do you have like a history with different materials? What are you working on now? What are you loving? What are you favoring?

Kara Voorhees (13:13.714)

So my, am I allowed to drop brand names? Brand names are okay? Okay, okay. So I primarily use two different brands of watercolor, although I've been dipping a toe recently into a third brand. One is a smaller company that I would say, if you are starting watercolor, this is worth the investment. They started out.

Chain Assembly (13:17.105)

Go for it. Yeah.

Kara Voorhees (13:39.698)

very cheap and they were like a small family owned business and now they are carried by Blick but like when I started about nine ten years ago to remember the art supply store on Central in like 22nd

Chain Assembly (13:53.273)

Yes, yes. Where the rhino is or a different one?

Kara Voorhees (13:54.926)

It was amazing store. It's just in that neighborhood. It's across the street, like up a block, but it's gone now. But that man that owned that, yes. Me too, it was so sad. But the man that, he was so knowledgeable. And he, I told him, I'm like, oh, you know, I'm playing with, and there's no, there's no shade in the Windsor Newton game. Like I know some great artists.

Chain Assembly (14:04.025)

I- yeah, I remember when I was going out of business, I bought tons of stuff. Yeah. Heheheheh.

Kara Voorhees (14:24.65)

who do when you paint with Winsor Newton watercolor but I was I was kind of like hitting a wall with them a little bit and he introduced me to Mgram and that is M the initial dot G R a H a M Graham they are and because we're on video I'll just hold this up they have a real simple packaging you know white tube the

5.5 fluid ounces, the generic size. And they used to be like $8. Now they're like maybe $10 or $11, which in the watercolor world is good. It's good. And honestly, with watercolor, a lot of the other thing I'll point out is the investment is very low, because you make that one purchase of that tube, and that lasts you for years, especially if it's not a color that you use all the time. I go through Payne's gray a lot, because that's how I do.

Chain Assembly (15:02.665)


Kara Voorhees (15:20.734)

All my line work, all my shadows, I rarely rely on black. But everything else, I've been nursing some of these since 2016 because all you have to do is put a little bit in the palette, especially if it's of higher quality, and then add your water as you need it. So that is my number one recommendation for somebody that cares about watercolor and wants to dip their toe in and maybe make an investment. The only issue with Mgram is they are

It's a limited selection of color. So you've got your cadmium red, you've got your, you know, Azo green, Azo, like that's it. Maybe there's 50, 48 colors, and that's fine because we all know we can make our own colors with enough, primary, secondary, et cetera. But if you really wanna get crazy, and some people are like conflicted about this brand, but I've just had such good luck with them, is Daniel Smith.

Chain Assembly (16:06.402)


Kara Voorhees (16:18.834)

I love Daniel Smith. They just, they never stop. Their colors are amazing. I like a lot of granulation. Now, some watercolors don't like that. They try to avoid that cauliflower effect of when you don't get to the paint on paper before it dries. It gives you that sort of like almost like a water stain. But because I paint underwater,

and all of my octopuses have like a mottled skin. I love that granulation. I love that cauliflowering. And then now my 2023 challenge to myself was to paint imperfect mermaids and add that mottled skin to them. So they looked a little more like goddesses of the deep than sirens on the rock. And so that's where I get my granulation. If I want something more solid, I pick up one of my M grams. If I want something loose that I can control that's gonna give me a lot of depth.

texture, and maybe even some weirdness, I pick up lunar earth. Or not lunar earth, I pick up Daniel Smith, but I'm holding this color lunar earth, which is really great. It's a super granulated rust color. Oh my god, it's gorgeous. Lunar blue is one of my favorites, though. If you buy Daniel Smith, buy lunar blue. And then recently, there are little expenses. This is when you're really like, you're really going to the fancy restaurant.

Chain Assembly (17:21.832)

Mm-hmm. The lunar earth. Mm-hmm.

Kara Voorhees (17:41.402)

is Schmincke's super granulating watercolor. And that's, and I'm holding the tube up. I believe it's a German company and they're super old school. I don't think they have social media presence. They are phenomenal. The granulation and separation. I love a lot of these watercolors that are more granulated. They have a separation of color. So like a good example would be underwater green, which is this great like sagey olive color. But when it sits in the air, it separates and it becomes this like.

weird mustard and this beautiful like deep cerulean blue. So you can get those like discolorations too if you're willing to not mix it as well or let it sit out a little bit. So those are my three brands and then do you want me to keep going? This is like Pandora's box. These are just my favorites. So I actually got to be a bit of a like a brand ambassador for this company.

Chain Assembly (18:28.169)

Please do, you're making this easy for me, I love it.

Kara Voorhees (18:39.09)

And then they did away with that program, which I honestly felt like good because I got so much free stuff from them. And I would say I could highly recommend all of their brushes because I have all of their brushes, but it's called King Art Company and they're watercolor and they also they do this. They do this thing where like the best watercolor brushes are made from animals like there's just squirrel, sable.

There's just no way around it. But if you want to have an ethical brush, that means something to you. King is a great, they're like man-made proteins in the hairs that they use are really well done. Like really, they hold the water and they give you a tremendous amount of control, which is something you don't have with watercolor. Watercolor is very, you know, she's a wild mistress or your control.

is limited. Like once you get it on the paper, you just, you have control, but like it's, you know, it's like Indiana Jones. You got to roll under that closing door and maybe you don't get to keep your fedora. And so I highly recommend, I mean, it's wild.

Chain Assembly (19:49.983)

You had- sorry, that line was so well planned. Is that a line you've used before?

Kara Voorhees (19:55.898)

No, it's not. My dad has the gift of gab, so I have to assume that I have to. I'm just grabbing one of my King Art brushes. They're really nice too. They have really long handles, which sounds kind of like a strange thing, but like, I feel like I've got more balance with that. And it's just, I'm just holding a basic one up too. Now this is their like, sort of, this is called their gold line, original gold. It's kind of the middle in like price.

Chain Assembly (19:58.889)

That was beautiful.

Kara Voorhees (20:24.642)

but they have sales all the time. King Art Company, highly recommend them. They don't just do watercolor, they do everything. Now their paints are very student grade, but if you wanted like a nice brush set, they have an ergonomic brush set that's just to die for and the fine lines that you get from that are incredible. So those are my go-to. And then for paper, Arches is unbeatable, but it is really expensive. So there's a company called Fluid that does those

gummed watercolor blocks there, because you gotta have that stretched. That paperwork needs to be stretched, especially the smaller the paper. It needs to be pulled tight, because then it really warps. When I paint on an unstretched, for lack of a better word, like larger piece, it's a little bit easier because of that warping distributes. But when you have a small piece of watercolor paper, you're doing an eight by eight or an eight by 10, even...

Chain Assembly (20:57.757)


Kara Voorhees (21:22.078)

Even 16 by 16, I usually paint with a blocked, or on a watercolor block that's gummed on the sides. Fluid is a good brand, and they sell that at Blick. I've had a taste of the highlights now, so I only paint on arches, which makes me sound like an elitist, but I've worked really hard to get here.

Chain Assembly (21:44.582)

Wow, that was a lot. I'm definitely gonna, I need to up my watercolor game and because like when I work on watercolors, I tend to do it. When I want to just get away from the computer for a bit, because I still have a bunch of unpainted prints that I've made. So I'll just grab a stack of those and just spend all day just basically coloring like my own little coloring books, those prints that I have. So I am.

Kara Voorhees (21:59.798)


Kara Voorhees (22:10.21)


Chain Assembly (22:12.741)

I think I've only got one print unsold right now, so I need to build up that stock again. So I'm gonna be working on it soon. And I have been like branching out into better quality paints, but I'm still using the same garbage plastic brushes from Michaels that I bought like 10 years ago. So I definitely need to improve my brush game. That is for sure.

Kara Voorhees (22:18.348)


Kara Voorhees (22:34.85)


Kara Voorhees (22:38.358)

Oh, I'll send you some stuff about LYNK, but just in defense of yourself, I have this one brush that I've had for 10 years, and it's a student grade. Like, I think it costs like 50 cents in a pack. And I've got it right to like the nasty sort of dried consistency that I need. And I love that brush. Something happens to that crappy little brush. I don't know. There's something about your first brushes that you get this. Sometimes you know how to work them. So.

Chain Assembly (23:08.261)

Yeah, I know what you mean. Like, I've got like 20 brushes and 19 of them have never been used. So this might be a dumb question, but have you ever tried making a brush out of your own hair?

Kara Voorhees (23:08.478)

I just contradicted everything I said. Pfft! Hehehe!

Kara Voorhees (23:16.022)

Yep, yep, yep.

Kara Voorhees (23:26.202)

No, but that's actually not dumb at all. I think that might be kind of brilliant. The only reason I would think that it wouldn't work is because the animals, the rodents that they use kind of have that, they're not otters, but they have that like fur that almost is a little bit water resistant. Like have you ever seen like a photograph of like a woodland critter and like it's rainy, but there's like pebbling of like water on their coat. Like it's like.

Chain Assembly (23:31.643)

I mean, cause like-

Kara Voorhees (23:53.986)

There's something about that collects and holds the water but doesn't, I don't know, I'm getting too scientific. So I wonder if human hair would do that, but I totally would try that. I would try that.

Chain Assembly (24:06.377)

I mean, I think if human hair would do that, people would do it more often. But this sounds dumb, but like your hair is gorgeous. And the way you do your makeup and the way you present yourself when you're at an event, it does help flow in with the art style of your paintings. So if you did make a brush out of your own hair, that could also be another marketing angle. I don't know. I don't know. I don't know.

Kara Voorhees (24:14.964)

Oh, thanks.

Kara Voorhees (24:29.322)

I'm fascinated by this. I will be doing some Googling. Yeah. Oh, I did, but I do totally dress up for, like I have jellyfish earrings, I have an octopus ring, like I've got all these, and I do, I did this whole series and I still kind of want to do a little bit more of it, even though it's been a couple of years, of the octopuses with the fruits. So I have a lot of clothing that has like fruit prints on it. Like I go all out for markets and stuff, although I haven't done market in a while. Why not?

Chain Assembly (24:59.707)

Did you also work as a mermaid at some point? Or is that just a story I imparted into your history? Okay.

Kara Voorhees (25:05.69)

No, I am graceless. I just love mermaids. No, it is so nice that you think I have that much physical grace. Not only the terrible swimmer, like I can swim, but it's more of, I'm more, I've got a more manatee swimming, you know, those women in those tanks are so athletic. Like they really are. Cause I mean, think about it, you naturally float.

Chain Assembly (25:18.921)


Kara Voorhees (25:33.878)

and they go deep down in those tanks and they do all this stuff, you know, up against the glass so people can see them, not in a million years. I don't have that core strength or the grace. I'd be terrible.

Chain Assembly (25:45.541)

Maybe I just assumed because you do so many mermaid pieces. So, okay. So I wanna ask you now about your relationship with prints and making prints of your paintings. Because one thing that I definitely notice about you and your work is you often make prints that are almost indistinguishable from the original. Same size, same framing, and they're so high quality.

Kara Voorhees (25:49.736)

Yeah! I just, I'm at his level, I'm like...

Chain Assembly (26:14.865)

that yeah like if someone is buying a print they feel like they have an original and so is that like a goal you set out with in the beginning when you decided to make prints or just like what's your history with going targeting print sales

Kara Voorhees (26:15.234)

Thank you.

Kara Voorhees (26:22.75)


Kara Voorhees (26:31.854)

Well, I think one of the cool things about being DIY is you get that like street smart artist sense of you watch, and that's not to say anything about like people that have, cause I know some amazing people have gone to art school who are just sky and like just pie in the sky amazing. But like that, you know, when you're like hitting the pavement and this coffee shop and that bar and this gallery and et cetera, you start to notice

I guess the budgets of people buying your art. Cause you do get that occasional, you know, and I cherish these people like nobody's business, but you do get those occasional people that are like, I gotta have this original, I don't care if it's $600, or I gotta have this commission made, I want it in your style, I don't care what you charge. And those people are amazing, but they're not, those are your exceptional clients. The average person that really wants to own a piece of art maybe can't afford your original.

Chain Assembly (27:03.728)


Kara Voorhees (27:30.242)

And if they have kids at home or maybe they're just, you know what I mean? We've got an insane inflation rate right now and we have weathered a pandemic. It's not something that people are out buying as much. So in order to be competitive and in order to offer something that maybe, you know, and the other artist isn't, is that accessibility of the print. And so I actually also got to a point where I'm very weird about parting with my originals. Like sometimes I'm like, yeah, like this needs a home.

whatever, but a lot of my mermaids and all my, I've only ever sold, I've only ever parted willingly. And it was almost unwillingly with one of my octopus fruit series. And that's because the person buying it had always bought art from me like in the early days when I was like, oh, this is $25. And I'm like, so when I said, this is $500, she was like, oh my gosh, this is amazing. I love this piece, I have to have it. And it was my like quintessential one, the octopus with the oranges.

was the original one. But you notice as, like I said, street smart artist, you get to that level where you've done enough little local shows, you've ingrained yourself in your community, you've observed, observed. And that's what I would say to any artist that's putting their foot into their local art community, like observe, keep your mouth shut and listen. Not that, you know, I've had amazing conversations with newer artists, but like.

listen, watch these other people that are thriving and what they're doing. And I was seeing that prints were successful for some other artists. And I was seeing that like my originals were just getting too good for me to not ask a certain amount for them. So then I got, I really got into prints and I was making my own prints for a while, but then I wanted bigger prints and I had this really nice high-end printer at home that I don't think you could do bigger than like 12 by 17.

And even then, I didn't care for the quality after a while. Like if you're making eight by eights, I was killing it. Eight by 10s, killing it. But if you wanna offer that 12 by 12, that's 16 by 16. So I found a wonderful, I don't even know how I found them, but they've been my printer for maybe four years. And it's this little place up in Pennsylvania, which is funny, because I'm from Pennsylvania, but that's not how I know them.

Kara Voorhees (29:57.238)

And they have been like another artist. And that's the thing that it's all this brain, the stuff you culminate and collect from other artists. So it was probably something like that. But I've just had really good luck with them. And I always order like a text print. I'm really specific. And some works just don't translate to print. And you just sort of have to, like I'm also a perfectionist.

thing with watercolor too is like it's another thing like trial and error it does not lend itself to glossy prints it's a toothy textured you know the higher end of the watercolor paper you get the more toothy it is I feel you know you have the hot press cold press debate but to me it's that toothy cold press that gets you that like depth and quality and so you got it you got to go with matte prints you got to find

like an archival map paper that you can work with or find a printer that offers that. Because when you have a watercolor printed on glossy paper, it looks so fake. Then you don't think it's an original. But it wasn't necessarily a goal to make it as much like the original as opposed to, it just kind of, I started to like push myself towards that. I didn't know what I was pushing myself towards because I have a stack of prints that they will never see the light of day because they're test prints.

Chain Assembly (31:02.257)


Kara Voorhees (31:19.43)

or they're just trial and error prints. So yeah, that's a really long answer of saying, what if saying that prints have kind of become my like, I don't, I want people to feel like they can access art on a level where they can buy it and take it home. But I also don't wanna like compromise my personal feelings about my originals, which I think my prices are competitive. But

Chain Assembly (31:27.518)

No, no, that's great.

Kara Voorhees (31:48.818)

Like I am not going below a certain number. Like I spent a lot of, I just, you know, talk your ear off for 25 minutes about the materials. I haven't even told you the time, you know? So it's a nice accessible point for your customer that's not ready to take the plunge into the original. Or I have a wonderful, wonderful client who she has several of my originals.

but sometimes she just likes a piece and she just wants it like in a smaller setting. So she has, I love squares. So she has like her office, I delivered an original to her about nine months ago where she works. And it was a big one. So I like showed up with it in a frame and everything. I was like, don't let me just be your delivery service. And my work was all over her office and she had like this grid of these squares and it was really cool to see. But like she doesn't even wanna buy.

every single original, she wants that accessibility too. So it's a financial as well as a spatial thing. And yeah, prints have been really, they have really worked for me. The other thing about prints too that I'll point out that with watercolor is a lot of people forget and it's completely normal thing to forget that watercolor is done on paper. I love that naked canvas look that acrylic users like often. I love that like their canvas.

Chain Assembly (32:47.47)


Kara Voorhees (33:13.35)

or they'll put it in that, and I'm so ignorant of that, that like framing that sits away from the canvas, almost like a box framing, and it looks so good. But you can't do that with watercolor, it's on paper. So you have to frame it, and you either have to be pretty good at your frames, that's another cost that factors in. It would be pretty good at your frames, and you have to be willing to sort of paint with a frame in mind.

Chain Assembly (33:20.445)


Kara Voorhees (33:42.298)

if you want that piece to be framed, which is weird. It's weird. Cause I have painted many, been like, oh, I painted a 22 by 22. It's one of my most favorite pieces that I've ever painted. They don't make standard frames in 22 by 22. They have that custom made. Okay, lesson learned. But that's the other thing is I sell a lot of my prints at these markets in frames, you know, eight by eight frames, nice, bi-amount bulk. That's another.

level of accessibility that for a few dollars more, if you can bulk it out and price it out, you're only charging maybe like $12 more for the frame, $15 more for the frame. And then instead of spending $30 on a print, they spend $50 on a frame print and they're good to go. So that's another thing. If they're going to buy an original from you, they're going to have to frame it anyway. If they're not paying for the frame, you have it in. So that's another factor. And I just think...

Chain Assembly (34:28.265)


Kara Voorhees (34:38.062)

all of these perfect storm things that I've taken 24 minutes to say, sort of resulted in me being like primarily a print artist for many years. Like recently I just did a solo show and it's up now. Of all originals there's two prints they let me squeeze in there for accessibility. But it was all big originals and it was like really weird for me to not

paint with the intent, like I'll probably make prints out of a lot of them, but not paint with the intent as this is another nice little square, octopus with some fruit or a couple turtles in the ocean in a square that I can automatically upload to my amazing printer, have prints made, have them framed, and get them into my market tent inventory. So that was a weird experience for me for the last year to just have that sort of like weird not-

print-based painting, even though I will make prints of them. Okay, now you talk, because it's been a while.

Chain Assembly (35:34.177)

Okay, I got a bunch of questions about that. First off, when you are getting prints made to try and emulate the watercolor, you said you're doing it on matte paper. Is it a toothy matte paper with visible texture on it? Or you just rely on the scan of the original to provide that quote unquote texture on the print?

Kara Voorhees (35:55.574)

That is a really great question. So there's two ways to answer it. The high quality, the high resolution photo, it does pick up a lot of that texture. And if you print it on what is a basic matte paper called archival matte, you get that. And most of my prints are in archival matte. It does the job. It's kind of a lesser expensive, like non-glossy paper.

And you get exactly, those are the prints that people say are surrealistic. But when I wanna do something crazy, I do print them on aqua well rag to get that toothy, now that can be double the cost, but to get that, because then if you actually ran your finger over the paper, the aqua well rag is toothy. But I can also embellish those prints. I left out a paint that I used when I was going through my paints.

I use these handmade watercolors from a lady in England, and they're all metallic. So sometimes I do take a print and I have it, especially I have a mermaid that's sleeping on a rock and there's all this life behind her in the ocean, and I will have that printed on Aquarwell Rag so I can go back over and embellish it and make those prints one of a kind with those metallic watercolors, just going over a piece of kelp so that when the light catches that print, and then the...

the owner of that print has something that is original, but not the original price. It's just, you know, a little bit more than the archival map print. So that's kind of like a, that's like another little like mid-tier option for people, again, dipping their toe into owning art. So yeah, that's the, I think that answers your question.

Chain Assembly (37:39.245)

Okay. Yeah, no, that does. That does. So then how do you, what's your process for, I guess you said, take photo. So I guess you don't scan them because they'd be kind of big to put on a scanner. So what is your process for photographing and archiving your paintings?

Kara Voorhees (37:58.174)

Okay, so I super DIY like for smaller pieces, I've actually used my iPhone. Like if it's a real, like if it's an eight by eight piece that I want to recreate, the iPhone has worked really well. And then like it just a DSLR. Yeah. I have a used one camera. Um, and then upload them to, and I'm, I'm very like not technological. So if someone out there is listening and has a better way of doing this, you're way ahead of me.

But I just have them in folders on my MacBook. And I crop them on the MacBook. I take them outside in good sunlight. When it hits my patio at a certain way, actually the way it hits my house and my patio at a certain time of the day, I feel it's very reflective of the true colors. And then it's also that background

It's really simple, it's easy for me to. I've even like sticky tacked it to the side of the house. Because the way the light, like the natural light is. Now you, I've had them professionally photographed before. I have had them taken in some works. It's very expensive. And I just wasn't seeing as much. And I went to like the best, I'm not gonna name names, but I went to like the best of the best here. No, it was a Tampa. I'm not gonna name names.

Chain Assembly (39:18.513)

Davidson Fine Art.

Okay, I had bad experiences with them, so okay.

Kara Voorhees (39:25.886)

They did a phenomenal custom job for me recently, but that was framing. And I won't name names, but their quality was fine. But I was like, you know what, I can do this on my own. I really wanted to get into the, I guess, you know, that assembly line of once you finish a piece, you know, it just doesn't become, I kind of wanted to cut out the middleman. And the only, yeah.

Chain Assembly (39:28.995)


Chain Assembly (39:52.273)

Yeah, I get that. You don't wanna have to wait on someone to do their part.

Kara Voorhees (39:55.766)

No. Yeah. And I'm happy because I used to make my own prints at home. That was so painstaking and time consuming. I'm happy to have the cropped, you know, perfected image uploaded to, and I'm happy to, it's jocletoday.com. I feel like I'm like letting out this like little secret because I feel like people are gonna go on there and bump.

Chain Assembly (40:19.613)

That's the point of the podcast.

Kara Voorhees (40:23.938)

but they make phenomenal prints. And their turnaround time, their turnaround time can be a little bit delayed, but if you plan in advance, and I wouldn't even say it's delayed, it's just, they tell you straight up, we take a couple of weeks for each order, but they've never disappointed me, and their website's very easy to use. So that I was willing to farm out, because the printing on my own, one, I was starting to exceed the tech that I had, and two, it was very time consuming to do all of that.

So I did cut out the middleman with the photograph. I did cut out the middleman with the perfecting, just basic programming that you have on a Macbook works for me. And I use Photoshop too to upload it. I feel like the crop is easier in Photoshop too, but I don't even pay for it. I think I was just the basic one. See, again, not tech savvy. So.

Chain Assembly (41:23.661)

I just want to shout out quickly in there. If you have Lightroom, there's a really great tool there that helps like you click the corners and then it makes everything perfectly rectilinear or square I guess in case your photo is accidentally off at a crooked angle.

Kara Voorhees (41:23.794)

kind of the...

Kara Voorhees (41:38.266)


Chain Assembly (41:41.925)

You just kind of draw lines where the edges are and it puts them all at 90 degrees and stretches it out. So that's very helpful if I'm like taking a photo of a building and because it's like pointed away from me. And if I want those things to be both parallel again, I'd use that. So anyway, sorry, keep going.

Kara Voorhees (41:42.946)

Oh, I like that!

Kara Voorhees (41:47.938)

What? See?

Kara Voorhees (41:58.282)

No, don't apologize. This is amazing. Is it okay if I tilt my phone to the side?

Chain Assembly (42:00.082)


Chain Assembly (42:04.186)

Uh, yeah, it should automatically reorient correctly.

Kara Voorhees (42:05.238)

Like that, while it charges? Okay, sorry. It's just gotta, for some reason, it's, I don't know, maybe it's this app. It's not like loving streaming a little bit of the battery, but that's okay, it's not a big deal. We've got an outlet near here. So that's my, that's basically my process for printing in the night. I keep an inventory, some of it's handwritten, of what sells and what doesn't. And that's how I order my prints based off of, you know what, the three turtles in the couch.

Chain Assembly (42:18.457)


Kara Voorhees (42:35.23)

They're killing it. I'm going to do another 20 prints of those. The Little Mermaid that I thought was so exceptional, only sold three or four of her. So she's not back in the mix. And what's nice about jacquardadip.com at no cost, you can have an account and you just, any print you've ever printed is in your account. So you can just go reorder and you know, it's, it's really easy. I highly recommend that website.

Chain Assembly (42:55.887)


Chain Assembly (43:02.093)

So that brings me to my next question about the prints is, do you order them in bulk for each image? Or like, do you say there's going to be 50 prints of this image, so I'm going to order 50 right now and just have that in stock. Do you do limited editions? Do you do open editions? How do you go about the numbers and ordering those new numbers?

Kara Voorhees (43:24.51)

Okay, that's actually a really good question. I had this conversation, I don't wanna use this term because it sounds unkind. I don't wanna say baby artist, but I was once a baby artist. So I don't say it unkindly, but a newer artist is probably a little bit more diplomatic. But I was having this conversation with a newer artist a year or two ago, and they were like, oh, I really love this piece. I'm gonna order like 30, 40 of it. And I was like, no, no. Order three.

and see how those three do. Now, when do you get into the cycle, your three order of a new print will be tacked on to your reorder of 40 prints of this, 30 prints of this, so that trial print won't seem so daunting because you're gonna be tacking it on as time goes by to your successful reorders. But I have prints from mistakes like that, that

just don't sell. It's just, it's something I really like. It just didn't jive. So I'm not probably not going to paint that subject again. Or maybe it's that palette. Like, maybe the palette's crazy. People don't want that palette in their homes, you know, and you should always paint what you want. You shouldn't always paint to sell. But if you're going to do this, and you're going to actually make an audience happy, and there's nothing like connection with art buyers, like it's so special.

you need to sort of conserve. You can't just say, oh, I love this piece that I made, I'm going to get 50 prints of it. Because let's say, you know, roughly $4 a print. Well, that's $200 that you have to eat if they don't sell. So I say start the cycle, get a little bit here, a little bit there, a little bit there. And then as you sell and you reorder, those little trial prints will be a tack on to bigger prints that you've had.

or bigger orders of print that you've had success with. But I always do a trial print, maybe two or three, and I see if it sells, and I see if it came out, okay. And that's my own carefulness, that's my own perfection. But there are just pieces that I don't think translate well to print, and I can't, it's an abstract concept, I wish I could explain why, and again, it's like my own perfectionism.

Chain Assembly (45:34.473)


Kara Voorhees (45:51.306)

But that's another reason like why you don't want to. I'm very, I can be very cheap. Like I'm very, very invested in good quality products. My frames are always nice. I always try to use real glass and real wood. But when it comes to prints, it is something you have more control over. So I say go in conservatively so that you're not out $200 of this painting of.

You know, I do a lot of these octopuses doing whimsical things. You know, I have this painting of this octopus and he is holding an umbrella and I think it's the greatest thing ever. Nobody really likes him. They like the octopus that's knitting. But because I'm in my, my printing practice now after several years under my belt, I only have a couple umbrella octopuses. So I don't mind. You know, if I, they didn't, they didn't like.

you know, gouge a hole in my wallet, so to speak. So I'm very careful, and I really do test runs big time. Big time.

Chain Assembly (46:56.577)

So when you sell a print at an event, a pop-up, a market or whatever, are you marking down that sale for the individual image that sold so you can check those numbers later? Or is it just like the size and framed or not? Like, I guess how is your inventory tracked is a better question.

Kara Voorhees (47:17.574)

My inventory tracking, it oscillates between incredibly professional and incredibly artistic. I used to like, I was in the corporate world for a really long time and I, without going into the most dry as possible explanation, I did work with a lot of numbers. And so I do have, you know, like pages, documents on my Mac of graphs and what is popular and what isn't.

And I think I just keep track of like units, the individual pieces and what size sells. So I sell a lot of eight by eights. It's a size that's comfortable for people. They don't feel intimidated. It's something they can give as a gift. And I sell a lot of 12 by 12s, maybe a little bit less so, but still a lot. Again, it's something they can give as a gift. It's not gonna take up a huge part of their wall space.

You know, because if you think about it, something that we forget as artists is that we love art. We've all got art by our friends or our favorite artists on our walls at home. We're all, and I'm not saying this in this elitist way, but there's a lot of people that haven't stepped out of something I got from Home Goods, which no shade on Home Goods. But like the original art or the local art or the print is still a new concept for them. So those smaller...

those smaller sizes are really successful for me. And so I keep a track of this, I would say the size and the print and obviously the numbers. And that's kind of the easiest way to do it for me. But I also like, because I've had so much success with this octopus and fruit and now octopus and like objects thing, you know, it's easy for me because they're all the same size and they're all the same price. So it's like a couple eight by eights of the

Octopus with the Grapefruits, which is, I believe, a print that you own. That's one of my favorites, is the octopus with the grapefruit. And ten prints of the octopus in the teapot, and eight prints of the octopus reading a book. And those things are easier to keep. For me, I would struggle, I think, I would do it, obviously, but I think I would struggle if I was keeping track of various different, you know, 12 by 17 of this, da-d

Chain Assembly (49:15.029)


Kara Voorhees (49:39.038)

And most of my stuff is on archival matte. So if I print something on Aquawire rag and embellish it, I classify that differently. Same content, but it's embellished, so it costs more. Costs more to print on Aquawire rag. So sometimes, you know, my on a document inventory

Chain Assembly (49:49.011)


Kara Voorhees (50:05.098)

isn't always like I'm not running home and updating it as much as I, but it's there. The infrastructure is there. So when I do notes, I might take it at a market or I always take it. It's fun too. It's a good excuse to take pictures. If someone buys a piece, oh, you might be holding up a picture, then you just throw it on your story. And it kind of says to other people, if you like my work, it's selling. And maybe the thing that you think you like that you're going to pick up one day, maybe that's not always going to be available.

Chain Assembly (50:23.389)


Chain Assembly (50:31.249)

Oh, that's a good idea. I need to do that.

Kara Voorhees (50:34.442)

Yeah, when someone buys something, I think, and if they say, you know, you joke with them and they say, oh, I don't wanna take a picture, oh, hold it up above your face. And most people want it. They want, they're excited. They just bought a piece of art, even if it is a smaller piece and it is a print. And so that's another good way to just, you know, cause in the heat of a market, you're tired, you schlepped all this stuff out there. You know, maybe you're not. I've tried to keep the written inventory and I have.

Chain Assembly (50:43.706)


Kara Voorhees (51:03.094)

Those pictures are great, like, you know, because if you do Venmo Square, all that stuff, you can read the units of the numbers, but you don't know what they, you know, you don't know, oh, was that a, was that the brunette with the blue hair? You don't know. So like I said, it's artistically done with like the photos, but it's also professional. I lived and breathed graphs and charts and numbers. So I know how to do that.

It's just not fun, but it's necessary. It is necessary.

Chain Assembly (51:36.139)

So your process then is if you make a sale at an event, you write it down by hand?

Kara Voorhees (51:44.574)

That's what I started doing and then the pictures, I just got, I hated doing it and so the pictures are now my way of doing it. Or I'll text myself.

Chain Assembly (51:53.149)

See, yeah. Okay. Interesting. So do you do, do you have like a square reader or a card reader or are you just strictly like Venmo, PayPal, Cash?

Kara Voorhees (51:56.65)

Yeah, text myself.

Kara Voorhees (52:05.414)

I have a square reader and it is my preferred because it's easier to, it's much, much easier to track than Venmo. I'm also like, nothing against Venmo. That's how someone can pay, that's how someone can pay. Done. But the square is just a little bit, you know, and I don't even have this.

This is probably a question that you had like, I don't have an online store out of sheer laziness like every year I'm like, I'm gonna have an online store on my website. But that is like I would say, if you're a newer artist, get a Square because it's linked up to all these amazing platforms like you know, they bought Weebly right? Square bought Weebly? I think they did. And that's who my website was designed with. So

Chain Assembly (52:36.937)

I'm going to go ahead and turn it off.

Chain Assembly (52:47.14)


Chain Assembly (52:52.701)

I don't know.

Chain Assembly (52:59.354)

Oh, okay. Oh, yeah.

Kara Voorhees (53:00.39)

It's if I want to do that store all that account and that account are blended and like I said It's just sheer laziness on my part Um, but yeah, I have a square

Chain Assembly (53:09.381)

I know Square does have like a free online store platform that I have not used, but it matches with the inventory you load into the Square app. So yeah, I've been wanting to print like QR codes and put them on all my products so that I could just scan those at markets to add them in. Cause right now as it is, someone brings up a thing to me, I'll go to like my favorites on the Square app where I have all my items listed and I'll tap it and add it to their cart.

and then check out with them. So I am getting an itemized list of all the items that sell. So at the end of the event, I can be like, okay, 30% of that day was all prints while 5% was originals and 20% were tarot cards or whatever. So I like being able to have all those numbers, but I think, I mean, I got a thermal printer so I can print like QR code labels super easily and just slap them on all my things. So I am kind of leaning towards maybe doing that in the next few months or so.

Kara Voorhees (53:55.188)


Chain Assembly (54:08.073)

I'm sorry.

Kara Voorhees (54:08.722)

I think that's way more cohesive and organized. I've also just been in these like, you know, in these like, in the trenches, so to speak, where someone's like, I only wanna pay with cash. I only wanna pay with Venmo. And it's like, you don't wanna turn that sale away, especially the cash. So I think that's why I have my.

Chain Assembly (54:27.465)

Mm-hmm. Well, I still take Cash and Venmo and all that stuff too, but like for... Even if someone pays with Cash, I still track it on Square as a sale.

Kara Voorhees (54:42.818)

I will say, even though I was hitting the pavement and doing many, many markets because of this solo show that I basically spent 20, 23 painting, I haven't done one in like a year. So I am, my information is a little bit time-capsuled. Like all the prints that I've sold and have been, have sold have been in like stores and shops. So I haven't.

done this as recently, but I do have experience doing it. I do have the muscles from throwing up that 10 by 10 trade show tent.

Chain Assembly (55:19.689)

Well, so tell me a bit about that the solo show. This is at Disco Dolls, right? When did it start? When does it end?

Kara Voorhees (55:24.05)

It is. So it is, it should be up for about another month. They haven't given me a date of like where it ends because I believe they might have, don't quote me on this, they might need me to stay for a little bit longer. So it could be an extended show, but I would say it's in the next month. Head over there. It's a great space. It's so cool. And they're really trying to turn.

So it's a multipurpose space. It used to be a post office and these women just bought it and turned it into like this powerhouse local business that is equal parts salon, equal parts like vintage, upcycled things, locally made things, like locally made candles that are phenomenal, locally made perfumes. And then they have this gallery wall. And the gallery wall is phenomenal. And what they're doing with it

is they're taking the space that garners an income via the salon, via the shop, and they do events there. They have like a sewing class thing, society that meets, I mean it's just multipurpose, multipurpose. But because they can afford that space, that space is paid for by different income.

Kara Voorhees (56:47.526)

they can afford to make that wall what they, what I would think of as a traditional gallery wall in the sense that it's not, and there's nothing wrong with this, but it's not a show at a coffee shop where someone buys the piece, they take it down, the coffee shop texts you and goes, hey, can you replace the piece? It hangs through the end of the show. You know, I just told her in original last week, those people love it. They don't get to pick it up yet. There's a little red dot that says they bought it, but they don't get to pick it up yet.

The every show is not just going to be an amalgamation of Originals they wanted me to paint all new pieces that were cohesive that had flow to them I had a show theme and so they're really turning this into a wall of like a Traditional gallery wall and because like I said, they have this other the other infrastructure of these other sources of income They can afford to do that

and it's really, really cool. And I'm really excited to be a part of this. They've been really good to me too.

Chain Assembly (57:54.749)

That's awesome, I'm excited for you. Is that your first solo show?

Kara Voorhees (57:59.518)

I've had many solo shows in different settings, but it is my first solo show at what I would call like a gallery setting. Even though it does serve other, it serves other purposes. I've had many solo shows at coffee shops, restaurants. I feel like I should revisit my resume or something. But this, oh, I've had, and I've had receptions. You know, I've had like,

Chain Assembly (58:12.413)


Kara Voorhees (58:28.606)

You know, I had the Tampa Bay Times come to the first solo show I had in 2016, but they were, that was at, hold on, it's on the tip of my tongue, Bamboozle?

I think it's Vietnamese. Oh my God, their food's amazing. It was a very cool bamboozle and channel side and has a great, like they're, got kind of a shabby chic set up. But never in a gallery and never with this show theme. I mean, I've written many an artist statement, but like a show will say aim in mind. So this was a new experience for me. And it's.

I really enjoyed it. The show is called See Change. I purposely painted a lot of mermaids that have like a murkier quality to them. Indicative of the change in my work. I love all my mermaids, but a lot of them up until now have been this sort of like picture of perfection, not necessarily in looks or body type or whatever, but just like perfectly executed the shading.

And I took my approach to octopuses, which is a little bit like loose and willing to like let go of control and get that model book. And I did it with the mermaids and they are the best mermaids I've ever done because they're no longer, you know, like a Caucasian skin tone. They're green, they're purple, they're blue.

Chain Assembly (01:00:03.709)


Kara Voorhees (01:00:06.714)

the I have some beautiful browns that actually have like rust and purple in them. So when they granulate, even though at first they might look like a medium, like light brown tone that you would see on someone's skin, there's so much modeling and imperfection. And I just love that, like I gave them like, patch it like patches, and they're dark and they're, they're beautiful. So that space to create was completely new to me.

And I'm just now getting back into like, what does Kara wanna do with 2024? And I think I wanna keep painting those mermaids and I wanna do another octopus. I wanna do one or two more with the fruit just because they're so fun and they're really good for my brain. They can guava or kiwi. So that was really, it was a solo show. I had done so, but it was a different solo show. It was a purposeful solo show.

Chain Assembly (01:00:54.729)


Chain Assembly (01:01:03.493)

Great. Yeah, I'm excited about that. So, I know you also wrote a book. Can you tell me a bit about the book?

Kara Voorhees (01:01:12.818)

I can. I did mention it in the form. I was like, I should probably just mention this in there. So I did. It's funny. I feel like sometimes when I introduce myself in a situation like this, like when you're talking with someone and they go, well, you would never ask a question this mundane, but I know you've gotten this question. Did you always want to be an artist? Yes and no for me, but I always wanted to be a writer. And I had

Chain Assembly (01:01:15.485)


Kara Voorhees (01:01:39.918)

I had a great experience in college, helped found our student newspaper, had an internship with the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, which is a well-regarded newspaper. And then I graduated in 2009, and print media went just under. And so even though I had this like amazing internship that was, I was writing and being published by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. In fact, I feel like I'm far enough removed, I can say that I got a lot of free labor out of me.

Chain Assembly (01:01:56.85)


Chain Assembly (01:02:09.651)


Kara Voorhees (01:02:10.302)

Like I was published almost like three or four times a week. So that didn't work out for me. The writing thing didn't work out. I always loved creative writing as well as journalistic writing. And a friend of mine was just saying like, oh, you know, like I just, I wanna kind of kickstart that part of my life again, creatively. And I was like, and she's not an artist, creative person, but not an artist. And I was like, well, what is, like in times of, I guess maybe like self reflection or self doubt, I think it's some great art.

So what is something that you do creatively? And she's like, and we both are big readers. And she said, well, I've always wanted to write books. And I was like, and I am like a writing theme. I always say, as an artist, I'm like very Zen. You know, obviously care a lot about my work and I put a lot of effort into my work, but I'm very Zen. I'm very like, this is such a blessing. Like this practice is so sacred. And I always describe myself as a writer as like those raccoons that are caught on ring cameras.

and their eyes are like reflecting the light and they look half crazed cause they got caught in a dumpster. Like that's who I am when I write, I'm a psycho. So right out of my mouth, I'm like, if you write a book, I'll write a book. I'm crazy. And I wrote a book and she wanted to write, she wanted to write a romance, like a contemporary romance. And I was like, okay, well I'll write a romance if you write a romance. But there was no way I was gonna write a, I don't know, I got married in 2012, but I don't know that.

Chain Assembly (01:03:20.518)


Kara Voorhees (01:03:37.078)

But I love fantasy. So I started out, I was like, all right, a fantasy romance. And then I emailed this rough draft, like a few months later to my writing partner from college, she's a brilliant woman. She's like, Kara, you can't market this as a fantasy romance. You're like, you know, 38% in the book and you're talking about how their currency is divisible in the marketplace. And you address plumbing. And I'm like, yeah, but I love that when I read fantasy. Like I love me a good love story, but I love that.

Chain Assembly (01:03:37.449)

I'm going to go ahead and close the video.

Chain Assembly (01:03:59.9)


Kara Voorhees (01:04:07.938)

I like fantasy with dirt under its fingernails, you know? And so now I'm stuck with this huge book that I am self-publishing, because I'm proud of it. Like, I really like it. I've had a great team of beta readers, and beta readers are people that read your book before it's finalized. It's more like, it's like second to last final draft, and I've had this team of about...

Well, I've had a lot of feedback from about 30 to 40 people, but I have this, there's a very long book, it's like 600 pages. So I have this amazing team of women who are about, there's about 13 of them, and they have read this behemoth and gotten back to me and just their feedback. I'm like, you know what? I gotta publish this. So it will be available. We're shooting for March 19th on ebook on Amazon. And then the phenomenal Mark Williams is doing my cover art.

and the jacket for the paperback. We're not gonna do a hardback edition yet. And so the paperback will be pushed out because that design takes a while and you also have to get proofs and it has to be formatted. But the formatting, like I've done all the formatting for the ebook, it's very easily done. And it should be, if you have a Kindle Unlimited subscription, I wanna make it free on Kindle Unlimited. And...

Chain Assembly (01:05:05.382)


Kara Voorhees (01:05:26.25)

I'm sure the ebook will be like $8.99 or something like that. I haven't finalized the price yet. But I'm just really proud of it. And I'm that like, I think earlier in our conversation, I said that I referenced that like I had this season of like not painting as much as I normally am like two, three days a week, like full eight hour days, even if the eight hour day starts at 6 a.m. Like I'm squeezing it in. And I have been working on this big piece. It's actually the main character of this book. Just to like

keep me like at that touchstone of painting because it does so much for my mental health. And I've been really blessed that like I finished up the solo show and had it professionally framed and ready to go win the inspiration for this book is because that would have been really tough. So yeah like just I don't need I don't know Nick I just yeah I just wrote a book I don't know.

Chain Assembly (01:06:18.673)

That's insane, you re- wow, that's- okay. How come, uh, you- did you not entertain the idea of crowdfunding it? To get, uh, like, more printed copies made?

Kara Voorhees (01:06:30.65)

So at the risk of, you know, I guess, tracking the teat of Bezos, I hate to do it. The direct, the Kindle Direct is actually a pretty reasonable program. And my, I, yeah, yeah. And so what I thought I might do is get the base for the ebook built.

Chain Assembly (01:06:44.665)

Yeah, I've done coloring books with them.

Kara Voorhees (01:06:57.258)

and then release the paperback, which a lot of people that read it, if you read it, and I'm guilty of this, if you read an ebook that you really liked, sometimes you just want to own a hard copy. Like I've actually like had that experience of like reading it digitally and then enjoying like the paperback copy if I like bought, I mean I'm pretty frugal with how I buy my books, but like sometimes, especially indie authors, like I really want to support them. I was thinking of doing a special edition because fantasy really lends itself, like these

who these publishers and these like book, like crate subscription people, they go crazy with fantasy. And they tend to be fantasy romance because they know women will spend money on them. So I was thinking of, I was thinking of doing that, like after the ebook and the paperbacks release and doing something really special like a hard cover. And I've seen other artists do that. So getting like the base going with KDP and then moving on to that. So we'll see. It's, it's.

It's been a ride, my friend.

Chain Assembly (01:07:56.197)

Well, I know fantasy books are a huge thing on Kickstarter. A lot of people get a lot of pre-orders through that. So I was just wondering if you had any, yeah. I mean, I mean, I know he's the exception, but Brian Sanderson, what was that? Like $40 million he made for his new book. So. Yeah.

Kara Voorhees (01:08:04.307)

ones too.

Kara Voorhees (01:08:15.466)

Oh my gosh, it's like you mentioned Sanderson and like I haven't even unembarrassed I Haven't read any Sanderson which my sister thinks is just absolutely unacceptable But like you even mentioned Sanderson and like any fantasy reader even myself like the ears prick up like Brandon's end of them But yeah, yeah it is

Chain Assembly (01:08:35.913)


So is it like high fantasy or is it like a steam punk? Like what's the setting?

Kara Voorhees (01:08:45.538)

So I really tried to write a fan like a fan. It's called the sub-genre, it's called Romanticie. Goodreads actually classified it this year. I really tried to write a love story and I think I executed a good one. But I think the first meaningful conversation that the, and it's a heteronormative love story between the hero and the heroine doesn't happen until like halfway through the book. So my old writing buddy from college was like.

Bro, you just gotta call this like fantasy, high fantasy. So I know the author of this book turned out to be a real like child abusing asshole, but like the mists of Avalon is something she can compare it to. So it starts out, it's very dark ages, very like think Canterbury Tales. You know, we've got chamber pots and maybe most people are not living past the age of 70 if they're well taken care of. And...

this woman, she escapes from this very like, it's a family veil of American evangelical Christianity, just this like really archaic, awful, patriarchal religion. And when she's about 28, she runs away from her husband and she moves to the only like governed by citizens city state on this giant continent. And she's like, okay, I can be free here. Like women, we're still second class citizens here. But

I can own property, I can make money. And so for 10 years, she's loving her life. She has these like dear friends, they work really hard. She's literate, so she makes work like in a scriptorium as like a scrivener. And then this like super, super pagan, super, super barbaric, well, they're sort of thought of as barbaric. They're the only, only...

country on this continent that worships like gods and goddesses and practices magic. And so they're just thought of as like these lunatics. And the city state that she operates in, that she lives in and is content in, they own all of this mining land. And that's how they fund like their universities and that kind of thing. Well, they stopped trading metal with this big pagan country. And in their ancient trade agreement, the pagan country, I'm so sorry, this is such a long explanation.

Kara Voorhees (01:11:04.91)

They have the right to invade a city. They call it a restrained invasion. And they're like any, any governing body, any, any building paid for by taxes, that is considered, you know, that is the downward trickle of this, you know, self-governed Citadel, the city state. So we have the right to slash it and burn it. And that's, that's what you get for breaking our trade agreement. Well.

she runs into this little chapel. It is a godless city, but they have these little chapels where people who are homeless can go, or people that need work can go, and the priests, which are really more like guidance counselors, kind of help them find work. And so she and her friends hide in this chapel, and they're like, we're safe here. And then right at the last minute, they realize we pay a tax to run this chapel. And they realize it too late, and these warriors come in.

And she's quick on her feet and she's a great bullshit artist. Um, and she convinces these guys, no, we're actually like sacred clerics. Of this chapel and you super religious people, if you kill us, it's going to, you're going to be cursed and all this stuff. And they, these guys fall for it. And then they're taken on this insane journey and through these like wild lands that like only these people go.

and they see stuff they've never seen before. They see the ocean for the first time. Some of them are in their 40s. And she gets to this country and she starts to like, she has to like be a citizen there now and it kind of sucks. Like it's not, it's not as sexy as it sounds. I made it really, really gritty. That's what my riding group partner was like, I know you tried to make like this like abduction like kind of sexy, but she's like, it's fucking terrifying, man. And I'm like, oh shit.

Chain Assembly (01:12:42.852)


Kara Voorhees (01:12:52.574)

You know, so I ended up writing this sort of like, and I'm gonna wrap it up, I'm so sorry, please edit out what you need to. I ended up sort of writing this like weird pagan feminist response to the Christ story. And so there's this whole, like I would, cause I was raised super religious, what I've always like never understood about like the, the God-proof, you know, for so-called only begotten son thing is like, what parent does that to their child?

So I created this goddess that would never do that to her child and would say, you know, instead of taking on this heavy burden, let me help you with it. And that's all I'll say, cause there's a bunch of shit that goes down once they get to this big pagan country. And there's a lot of religious trauma that's reconciled with the main character things like, oh, I got over that. Well, no, you didn't, cause you endured that for 28 years.

before you escaped it. No, you gotta unpack that stuff and therapy doesn't exist back then. So that's kind of the, I'm so sorry. Is this like 24 minutes?

Chain Assembly (01:13:55.741)


Chain Assembly (01:13:58.889)

That's amazing. What's your title? I don't think we've said that yet.

Kara Voorhees (01:14:05.014)

It's very simple. It's just called Priestess. I just no other title came to me. I love it. Yeah, it just it flowed really well. It's eight letters. My art name is my full name. I go by Kara Borghans Reynolds. And at the time, I just thought like Kara Voorhees sounded really plain. But that's even like people with visual memories may not remember my 123 name, but they will remember the art. But this is a little different. So it's just under Kara Reynolds.

Chain Assembly (01:14:08.061)

priestess. Love that.

Kara Voorhees (01:14:34.078)

Um, and I'm excited. It's, it's been, it's been a ride. It's, it's, I, I'm a little nervous too. Like I put art into the world all the time. I don't put, thank you. I'm excited for me too, but I am a little like, I haven't put this type of creation into the universe in a long time. I've put a lot of art out there successfully. So, I don't know. But I've got some great, I've got some great feedback from like this beta team.

Chain Assembly (01:14:40.169)

That's insane, I'm so excited for you.

Chain Assembly (01:15:00.089)

Wow, I mean, you're going places.

Kara Voorhees (01:15:05.046)

Well, okay, from your mouth to the universe in series. Yes, please. Yeah!

Chain Assembly (01:15:05.637)

So I know we could go on for like another eight hours. So let's start wrapping it up. So where will people go to follow this book when it comes out? There's everything gonna be at artb

Kara Voorhees (01:15:19.062)

That is a really good question. I am right now I'm sort of in this like final stages before the ebook like formatting and getting it just ready for launch. So I do think that I want to do a website. I do think that I wanted like have that especially if I end up doing a special edition. But for right now I've had the most interaction and the most of just

Connection with future readers. I have so many people that are like I'm gonna read this when it comes out I'm so excited to be it. Um, my Instagram is Kara needs to read k a ra Ne eds tore ad Because it started out as I just I'm an obsessive reader I listen to audiobooks when I paint so I read like a hundred books a year and people are always like ooh And I'm like, it's not really that impressive. I just press play and then I paint

So that was my bookstagram delay. I just had fun connecting with people that liked books and I was doing book reviews on there. And then I started to use that to drive this crazy thing that I did. But my artstagram is artbycaroborkies. And that is because I use my full legal name for my art. Don't ask why, I can't remember why. Artbycaroborkies and it's Vorkies spelled Jason.

like part of the 13th Jason, so V-do But Art by Kara seems to bring it up right away if you're hunting on Instagram. And I do have the website too, but I'm not on Facebook. I had a weird situation about four years ago where I taught a watercolor class and I got a stalker. And so he was able to, yeah, he was able to find me on Facebook and so I've gotten rid of Facebook.

Chain Assembly (01:16:53.673)


Kara Voorhees (01:17:14.838)

Um, and I haven't had a problem since like it's whatever, but I don't know. That might be a topic that you could have.

with maybe some female artists about just like the weird dudes that like come talk to you about your art. And it's like when you sometimes like and you get tricked. Yeah, you can do a roundtable episode because like you get sucked in because like I've been so many great. Yeah, it's crazy because you get sucked in because you like this guy will start talking you're like, oh man, like, this is another cool person that loves art. And I've met so many great guys.

Chain Assembly (01:17:30.026)

Mmm, that... That would be good, like a-

Chain Assembly (01:17:38.437)

Yeah, I think it'd be fun to get...

Kara Voorhees (01:17:51.466)

in the Tampa Bay community that are artists or art patrons, totally harmless, love talking to them, like you said, could talk for eight hours, another art soul. But then you get these guys and you're kind of like, bro, if you're not going to buy a piece of art, you're taking up a lot of real estate in the tent, and you're kind of freaking me out. So I'm not on Facebook.

Chain Assembly (01:18:13.274)


I mean, that happens to me a lot too, but I'm sure it's nowhere near what a woman goes through. So I think that would be good. I want to try and get like a few women, maybe next time at an art event, get a few women together. Just put my microphone on a table and then just hit record and let them go.

Kara Voorhees (01:18:21.806)


Chain Assembly (01:18:34.365)

So, all right, well, thank you again so much for all your time. You've been wonderful to speak with, and I am gonna absolutely read your book as soon as I can. And I'm gonna make it out to Disco Dolls 2 before it leaves so I can see all your new work. Thank you again.

Kara Voorhees (01:18:42.667)

Oh, you're so nice.

Kara Voorhees (01:18:48.382)

Yeah, I would say shoot for end of March. Yeah, yeah, shoot for end of March to be safe. But yeah, thank you. This has been so fun.

Chain Assembly (01:18:52.019)


Alright, thanks so much Kara. I hope you have a wonderful day.

Thank you.


Chain Assembly: Art for profit sake is recorded through Riverside FM, distributed through Spotify for podcasters, and edited on Adobe Audition. The music is provided by Old Romans. If you learned anything useful or found this podcast helpful, please rate and review us five stars. If you want to learn more about me or my art, head over to ChainAssembly.com.

← Older Post Newer Post →

Leave a comment

Art for Profit's Sake Podcast

48: Offloading Pain Points with Producer and Game Designer Stephen Kraus

48: Offloading Pain Points with Producer and Game Designer Stephen Kraus

In this conversation, Nick and Stephen discuss Stephen's board game publishing company, We Ride Game, and his video production business, Anthem Video. They talk about...

Read more
47: Origins Game Fair

47: Origins Game Fair

Nick Ribera shares his experience at Origins Game Fair, a role-playing board game convention in Columbus, Ohio. He discusses his participation in various events, including...

Read more