The Magnificent Embroidered Animals of Karen Nicol

Karen Nicol textile art has a playful edge to it. An embroidery and mixed media textile artist, she specializes in Irish, Cornelly, Multihead, beading, and hand embroidery. Nicol’s rich and diverse career spans art, fashion, and interior design with clients that include icons, celebrities, and even royalty – from Alexander McQueen and Marc Jacobs to the King of Qatar and even the Pope.

Her work often features embroidered animals that shimmer and sparkle. “I create ‘couture creatures’ I suppose,” she told Textile Artist. “I use my animals to explore the interesting dichotomy of man wearing animal skins and animals ‘clothed‘ in skins inspired by human culture.”

According to Nicol, she uses different techniques and materials, “whatever suits what I am trying to say and everything used is with the utmost irreverence”. Her goal through her art is to push the manipulation of materials, exploring the different ways in which she can work with textile.

But Nicol’s textile art is also a way of connecting with her past. “My mother and sister were both embroiderers,” she says. “My mother stitched and painted and demonstrated flower arranging and is a Master in Ikebana and my sister went to MMU and did a degree in Embroidery.” Nicol herself would graduate with a BA (Hons) specializing in embroidery at Manchester Metropolitan University and then an MA at the Royal College of Art.

“I was fortunate enough to be taught all the traditional techniques from ‘aemilia ars’ to ‘trapunto’ and beyond and think they are all the most brilliant vocabulary to then explore, explode and develop,” she notes, explaining she thinks of herself more as a designer than a mixed media textile artist.

Follow her Instagram page for more.