Inspiring mom: Karina Bania
It’s been a while since we’ve featured an inspiring mom, hasn’t it? Which is silly when you think of just how many inspiring ladies there are in our community and beyond. This beautiful studio tour by Jamie Street really rates high on the inspiration meter, if you ask us. A beautiful home studio, creative business, and two sweet girls. We say Karina Bania definitely has it all.
Karina is a painter and also the creative force behind Cluster Art, a neat art and decor concept that allows you to personalize art for your home. She has both a studio and office at home, which mixes her professional life so beautifully with her home life, as you can see from the photos here.
I have been painting on and off since childhood and it’s been about nine years that I’ve been a working artist. Although the Cluster Art website just launched, years of work behind the scenes have gone into conceptualizing, designing, and building the site.
Where do you work?
I have an art studio and an office in my home. Working from home has been the best way for me to balance work and motherhood. I consider myself both a working mom and a stay-at-home mom, since I operate in both worlds everyday. So much of creative life is thinking, imagining and planning, before the actual production begins. Working from home allows me to step in and out of the studio in free moments, when the girls are playing well together, and in the evenings.
What was the inspiration or impetus to start your business?
Selling artwork came about naturally. Many years ago when my friends started having babies, I painted pieces for their nurseries, which evolved into a line of artwork for children’s rooms. Soon, I was selling my work in boutiques and licensed out some of my images. After having children of my own, I felt a surge of creativity, which is something I hear from many mothers. I came up with the idea for Cluster Art and began painting and selling original work, doing shows, and building my business over time.
How does your business inspire your family, or your family inspire your business?
Family life is constant source of inspiration. After the birth of my daughter, I wanted to find a way to display some of our favorite family photos. As an art lover, my walls are covered in paintings and wall space is not something that I easily give up. I came up with an idea for combining artwork and personal photographs in a new, modern way. From that Cluster Art was born. The girls continue to inspire my artwork in so many ways. The repetitive addition signs, numbers and letters from schoolwork, animal figurines, childhood scribbling, colors and shapes all find their way into my paintings. The way children approach things, their fearlessness and freedom feed my own creativity daily.
[Spotted that piece above for sale in Karina's shop! Someone should jump on it.]
How has it changed or evolved as your children have grown?
My girls are now 4 & 6. As they have grown and become more independent, I have naturally focused more on work and they are more interested and curious about what I do. They see me stretching canvases, go through the process of painting, and then watch as I sell the pieces. They help a lot, come to my shows and see people buying art. For kids, making money by selling artwork is something they can totally relate to. Almost like a lemonade stand, the girls set up their own art stands and collect art from their friends for shows. We have many playdates in the studio and I’m in the classrooms doing art projects frequently. The girl’s artwork is proudly displayed among our collection and my oldest daughter has painted a few of the large canvases that hang in our home.
Do you find it challenging or refreshing to work for yourself, as a mom? And are there particular places or people that you rely on for support as a creative business owner and a mom?
I love working for myself and I also really enjoy working alone. I am most creative when I have quiet blocks of time to think and hear the inspiration that’s beneath the bustle. When I am alone in the studio I am connecting with myself, not me in the role of mother, wife, co-worker, but just my creative self, which feels essential. I have an incredible network of creative women and mothers in my life that I meet up with frequently. Over coffee, meetings, or walking museums we discuss our latest pursuits, goals, and parenting highs and lows. I think if you work alone, having people that you share your goals with helps you stay accountable and on track.
How do you figure out the balance of time with your children and time to work?
Creativity doesn’t always fall into schedule but raising children requires one. Everyday I strive to get things done but keep the balance of being present to hang out, talk and play with the girls. My husband and I rely heavily on Google Calendar to keep our schedules in balance and I live by to-do lists so nothing gets forgotten and I know what I’m working towards.
My oldest daughter is in first grade and my little one is in preschool three days a week and at home with me the other two. Each week I have three days to devote to working while the girls are in school. I try and use that time only for work. I generally do laundry, grocery shopping, running errands, etc., on the days that my little one is with me or in the afternoons or on weekends. My husband is incredibly involved and I also have help from my mom, who has been ever present in our lives since the girls were born. We are also lucky to have close family friends with two girls in the same schools, so we share a lot of the daily logistics. My afternoons are filled with carpools and after-school activities. My oldest daughter is in a Mandarin/Spanish immersion school, which means quite a bit of my time is dedicated to helping with homework. Most nights I after the kids go to bed, I continue to work. If I have a deadline or a project I am working on, I will often function on very little sleep, playing catch up when things calm down.
I believe that we can do anything we want, but certainly not everything all at once. A fulfilling family life and career is best built upon balance. I remind myself that life is not a race and that everything evolves when it’s ready. With my children, I clearly see how growth comes over time. I try and give that same patience and understanding to myself too. Slow down, savor, and appreciate.
So incredibly lovely, thoughtful, and inspiring. Thank you for sharing your talents and your family with us, Karina!
All photos by Jamie Street.