Featured Designer: A Happy Death

FK chat to one half of ‘The Towns’ Kara Town, about their new art based label A Happy Death.

Can you introduce us to your fab label, a happy death?
A Happy Death was conceived whilst we were living in Paris in early 2010. Whilst there we were inspired to extend our individual creative selves, foster our penchant for art, and invite our relationship to enter a new chapter. We both shared a mutual desire to build the bridge between artists and the greater community, and in doing so challenge the way art is perceived, shared and received. Initially I had my heart set on a retail/gallery space of the same name, but that soon transitioned into the A Happy Death of today. A Happy Death’s aim was, and indeed is, to give artists a simple, freely accessible platform with which to share their work; whereby we act as curators if you like. We invite artists to create a collection for us, that is, very importantly, true to their aesthetic. It’s certainly not a new concept, however we wanted to represent a broader discipline of artists, to step outside ‘the norm’, and bring art to the masses through the clever guise of stationery. Our name, (after an Albert Camus novel), is undeniably strange when placed next to other stationery labels, but it reflects our desire to contribute to a better world; one of sharing visual pleasure and encouraging environmental awareness, no matter how small our contribution may be.

What are your individual backgrounds and how did you meet?
Chris is six years my senior, he’s originally from Sydney, and incredibly well travelled, having lived in Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Sydney, London, Mexico and Paris. He’s studied at both the National Art School, Sydney and RMIT, Melbourne. He’s also exhibited in such galleries as China Heights, MOP and Monster Children here in Sydney, and had some of his work purchased by ARTBANK, to join their permanent collection. I also have background in the arts, with a degree in Visual Arts, studies in Fashion Design, a couple of small exhibitions to date, and I also dabble in both drawing and printmaking. We are both heavily influenced by art, fashion, design, literature, and popular culture. At the time we met, Chris was living in Adelaide, where I’m originally from; we met rather fortuitously in 2006, through a mutual friend. We instantly bonded over our love of art, vintage and Nick Cave, and fell in love. It was a rather fast courtship; we were engaged within two months and married six months later. In hindsight it was quite a crazy ‘experiment’ that has paid off in ways we never imagined. We’ve been happily hitched for five years now; A Happy Death is one of our greatest achievements to date (apart from becoming ‘The Towns’ that is).

What qualities were you looking for in the artists for a happy death?
For our first collection we chose from our favourite established and emerging artists, who are incredibly varied in their aesthetic and subject matters, and that’s just the way we like it. In all honesty, we tend to gravitate towards the art we both like first and foremost. A Happy Death also delights in the idea of helping emerging artists, by giving them a simple platform with which to share and promote their work. In choosing our artists, and considering their artwork, we aim not to be age or gender specific, curating each artist’s collection with a varied customer in mind. After all, we want to capture the attention of those who aren’t as literal minded when purchasing cards. Those looking for something vastly different, that will give their recipient an artistic experience along with their intended greeting; a product at the end of the day they may display or frame.

How do you maintain your environmentally guilt free ego?
We adopted the catchcry ‘a life well used, brings a happy death’, to not only bring clarity to our (odd) name, A Happy Death, but to bring attention to our environmental conscience. We loved the notion of working together toward a happy death; after all death is inevitable, let’s make the most of life and leave the world with a mark of happiness, of good. It’s quite a comforting concept really. So, it was in the initial stages, that the environmental factor became very important to us. We became adamant that our product was made locally, in Australia, and under the most environmentally sound conditions, on 100% recycled, FSC approved papers, using offset printing and vegetable inks. Our approach was; if we are going to be putting paper goods out there, we to do so in the most responsible way possible, and in doing so, encourage others to do the same.

What are your favourite blogs/websites right now?
I’m certainly the mad blog trawler of the two, and enjoy my daily intake/hourly morning ritual of visiting a variety of blogs and websites that cover food, art, design/home, photography and fashion. For art; Exhibition A, Dossier Journal, First and Fifteenth (Daily Metalations). For design/house/home; The Design Files, The Design Sponge, Design For Mankind, Honestly WTF and Miss Moss. For food; Smitten Kitchen, BKFST, Veggie Num Num and Sous Style. For photography; Rose & Crown, Fourteen-Nineteen, Turned Out By Maya and Backyard Bill.  For Fashion; Opening Ceremony, Creatures Of Comfort, Vanessa Jackman and Stockholm Streetstyle. (I told you I was a mad blog/website enthusiast, and the above are just the beginning.) I actually have my own blog to record all of the information I collect on a daily basis too (otherwise it all gets far too overwhelming), it’s at www.karatown.blogspot.com.

What can we expect from a happy death next year?
A Happy Death undoubtedly have a busy year ahead; with three new fabulous female artists to add to the current collection, a plan to branch out into other paper goods (including wrapping papers, journals, and notebooks), more design markets (having just been involved in our first Finders Keepers Markets, here in Sydney), our debut at First Instyle next February, and of course the launch of our online store. We can’t wait!


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