Creative Couples: Kat & Ben08 December 2009
All photos by Colin Leaman
Kat Karnaky and Ben Peterson have been a couple for over ten years. Kat is a print designer for Anthropologie as well as a textile-printer and fashion designer. Ben is an amazing painter and–as I remember from a couple years ago–a great cook too. Both are graduates from the California College of the Arts, and they now live and work from a large converted building in the northern part of Philadelphia, PA.
How did the two of you meet, and how long have you been together?
K: I met Ben when I was in art school at CCA. He was working at the art store, and I saw him and made fun of him. We have been together ten and a half years.
B: Katharine and I met outside the art store I worked at in California, I was sweeping and she made fun of me (she also stood me up on our first date). We have been together for ten years.
prints by Kat Karnaky
What’s it like working with your better half?
K: It’s good. We both challenge each other. But like anything, you have your ups and downs.
B: I like working with Katharine in the house somewhere, maybe not in the same room. You can only listen to the Pet Shop Boys so many times.
Can you describe your creative workspace?
K: At the present time I don’t have a studio. It’s being built right now. Because of that I have taken over different spaces in the house, like the living room, bedroom and Ben’s studio. I’m a spreader.
B: My studio is upstairs, basically a large room with a false leaning wall on one side (think giant drafting board).
What are the benefits of living/working together?
K: I like having him close to ask him questions, he’s great for constructive criticism. He’s also informative about art, and things that I am interested in, so it’s never boring.
B: The biggest benefit is also the biggest drawback, we’re very competitive with each other. No rest…
K: The disadvantages are that Ben and I have completely different work spaces. He’s a more clean, minimal person, while I like things cluttered and messy. Sometimes it becomes an issue.
Has your work changed as a result of living/working together, if so how?
K: I would have to say it has changed. He has taught me a lot about using the right tools and skills to make better looking art. He also shows me things that he thought I would be inspired by when I am working on a project. Ben keeps me on my toes and makes sure that I am doing the best work I could do and calls me out when it’s not. I appreciate that. If your better half won’t do that, who will?
B: I wouldn’t have had an appreciation for pattern, or textiles if it weren’t for Katharine.
Ben Peterson – Bare Market, 2008 (detail)
Kat Karnaky – Drip Bag
Are you currently collaborating on anything at the moment?
B: I am helping Katharine convert the garage of our new house into a studio. So sorta…
Any advice for future creative couples?
K: Don’t be upset if they don’t like the same things as you. It can work out.
B: Be honest, and if you can’t, be nice.
Kat & cats
Thanks guys! Hope I can cook dinner for the two of you in the near future.