Free The Artists


Karl Larsen

Karl L. Larsen is an author and artist from Columbia, SC. Since the publication of his first project in 2011, he has expanded his realm of creativity, tapping into visual art to fulfill his knack. His work encompasses many forms through a broad range of styles and media. Often working with spray paint and handmade stencils, the artist battles to create clean lines from his messy past. Providing a window into his life and mind allows the viewer or reader an option to engage visually, literally or both. Larsen is not afraid to bring those worlds together either, unapologetically printing an all-black version of his book, as well as hand-painting its cover and pages.

FTA: Why do you paint?

KL: First, I paint because I'm always testing my creative boundaries, whether it's through my books, visual art or anything else. I want to always know I can challenge myself. I feel that's healthy. I'm also high-strung, so it's a huge load off when I get the chance to let creativity run its course. I never force myself to paint.

FTA: That's cool, would you say it's therapeutic for you to paint?

KL: Absolutely. Unless I have a specific design or look I'm going after, I just let the paint do the work, leaving me relaxed not so uptight about life and what's going on. It's really enjoyable.

FTA: Totally. What inspires you to paint or has inspired you in the past?

KL: My life. I came very close to not knowing what any of this feels like so the fact that I'm here and able to create a window to my life and mind (is what inspires me). That's special to me.

FTA: That's a nice way to look at it. What is the lowest and highest point in your creative process?

KL: There are two highs. One is when I can feel myself relaxing and allowing the process to run its course, whatever that may be, depending on where I'm at in my mind. The second is when I finally find the discipline to put the damn brush or can down! Lowest is starting. I'm often intimidated by a blank canvas.

FTA: Ahh, yes. Have you ever made a painting you didn't like?

KL: All the time, nobody will ever seen them. I usually call it “the first layer.”

FTA: Haha nice. Is there anything in your life that you could compare painting to? That makes you feel the same amount of accomplishment? Or more?

KL: I don't know that I can compare it to something in particular. Its rewards are similar to the feeling I get when people tell me they enjoyed my book and want to buy another one to share. I get that feeling when people buy my art. It's always exciting and never gets old. Leaving something on this earth that will live long after I'm gone is a reward I'll never collect.

FTA: Yeahh. Last question: Do you think everyone has the ability to be a painter?

KL: Well, I think we, as human beings are all intuitively creative. Whether or not we notice that spark, find that niche, or walk down that avenue is up to us. You never know until you challenge yourself.

FTA: Love that answer. Awesome. Gold, thank you.