With a deep love for design and stationery, sisters Greta and Becky turned their creative doodles and sketches into a thriving studio that merges and shares their passions with the world! We speak about their journey, the dream that drives their motivation behind creating their little business and their future plans. Read more to learn about the creative souls behind k.arti! 



il-lokal: How did you develop your making skills? What was your learning path to get to where you are presently?

k.arti: Quite an organic process; we are both naturally creative people and as kids growing up we always spent most of our free time drawing and doodling, experimenting with different arts and crafts activities, designing different layouts and designs for our room. We remember being happiest when creating and making things and we would come up with any excuse to dive into a new project together. Art was definitely our favourite subject at school which gave us a bit of a basis in playing around with different mediums. However, most of what we learnt stemmed from experimentation.

We also learnt so much from the Architecture course which we both enrolled in at University. We gained a lot of the skills which are vital to our business, be it the creative tools such as composition, eye for detail and learning and gaining an appreciation for design and also the skills which help us in the day to day running of the business, learning how to cope with long hours, deadlines and presenting our work in a well composed manner to deliver a message in a fast way.

il-lokal: How important is having an online presence (website, social media...) to showcase and promote your work? How does it work for you? 

k.arti: We would say it needs to be given as much importance in terms of time as the actual creative work you’re promoting. In its own way curating your social media platform is a creative challenge in itself. It is definitely something that we know is important to invest time in, but unfortunately it does fall to the way-side sometimes. With social media we're learning as we go. We try our best to approach it as creating content which will attract more like-minded people to our business to build a community rather than approaching it like an ad of our work. We’re very selective about what we post and this could be to our detriment because we do end up with less frequent content. Our social media journey has been very organic and we are learning as we go, but we have definitely realized the importance of it and it has made a massive difference in terms of the growth of our business.

We take our photos at home using basic props we find lying around our house and a mobile phone. We focus a lot on creating content which fits our style and brand so that there is a continuity in terms of imagery when scrolling through our social media feeds. Last year we made the huge step of building our website. Something which had been a long time in the making and this was a massive push to our business, especially since we do not have our own studio as yet. Our website is our opportunity to showcase our products and who we are as a brand.

il-lokal: Where do you find inspiration? What are your go-to sources?

k.arti: Our starting point which tends to run through every collection stems from a general frustration with our environment, especially working in the construction industry. We are naturally drawn to creating everyday items that really highlight the beauty of all that is unique to our environment. We feel compelled to capture the beauty of the ephemeral and all that is transient and is at risk of being lost.
We draw a lot of inspiration from our local context as can be seen from a lot of our work and we definitely focus a lot on our natural environment as a main source of inspiration. We try our best to bring focus to the beauty of our islands with things which tend to be overlooked.

Further to this we also love to collaborate with other local creatives and see it as a kind of a creative tool for us. Working with other passionate creative people and collectively contributing each of our different ideas together into a shared project, tends to always result in a very special product. Taking some time off to brainstorm and experiment is something we try to slot in when we’re planning out our year as it’s very easy to get caught up in the day to day tasks of running a business and we found that in those busy periods we find it much harder to come up with new ideas.

il-lokal: Can you walk me through your design process?

k.arti: Once we decide on what the main source of inspiration will be for a collection and have a vision in mind, we begin experimenting with the design. The process we take is generally always the same when it comes to different products, as our main focus and target is to create the artworks for the collection which are then applied to a variety of products. What we feel is unique to our product is, that each drawing used in each collection is hand-painted or hand-drawn giving it that quality. This is very time-consuming and we have found our own system of working to help us speed up the process. For us it’s very important to have a solid plan as a starting point. We always create rough mock-ups of each collection in simple sketches to make sure we both agree and are on the same page. At this stage we discuss the potential colour schemes which would be assigned to each artwork. Once this is established, we draw up all the artworks by hand and then finalize them in our chosen medium – normally watercolour or pen and ink.

Each artwork is then transferred to a high-res digital format and this is where a lot of experimentation happens in photoshop. Even though we would have an overall vision, we try to let this guide us rather than constrict us. In fact, there are many times that during the post-production phase, when we get to a point where the final artwork is so different to what was originally envisioned. We love that photoshop gives us the freedom to pretty much do anything with our artworks making it easier to repeat elements and create beautiful patterns with so many layers. Thinking about it, we treat this part of the design process as kind of creating a collage out of single artworks to create the final piece.

il-lokal: What is a typical day like for you?

k.arti: Since we both have our jobs in architecture, a typical ‘k.arti’ day is always very jam-  packed as we try to squeeze in as much as we can out of the day. Although constantly working on a time-crunch can be seen as a limitation, we find that it helps us to be more productive and efficient with our time, although a tad more stressful. As a business our tasks are quite varied. We have the creative design tasks which are mainly split into our products and our wedding stationery but then we also have a lot of administrative tasks which keep on increasing the more our business grows. To balance everything and make sure we’re on the same page we always start the week with a quick re-cap meeting so that we delegate tasks and set goals for the week. During the first half of the year a lot of our days are focused on wedding stationery clients. When it comes to wedding stationery, much of our time is spent meeting up with people for consultations in person or online. We love to involve our clients as much as possible in the design process of their wedding stationery to ensure that the final product is a true reflection of them as a couple and what they had in mind for their special day. It’s so nice to be able to establish that relationship with our clients from day one.

The work on our other stationery products carries on throughout the whole year. The more creative tasks of brainstorming and thinking up what the new collection will be always something we focus on at the start of the year and we continue to develop the collections throughout the year. The more we grow as a business the more opportunities come our way together with new, interesting projects and collaborations which we are so grateful for. We choose to focus a lot of our time throughout the year to maintain these relationships with other vendors or creatives, finding ways to promote our products and put ourselves out there as much as possible by sometimes taking big leaps which might seem scary or intimidating, but which are necessary for the growth of our business. 

il-lokal: What does your support system look like?

k.arti: We are both very grateful that we have each other and that we are going through this journey together with all it’s ups and downs, so we would say that we are each other’s support system, because we are really going through this together and know how to re- assure and lift each other up when things get tough or we might be feeling demotivated. 

However, with time, we have realised that in order to grow this business and help it reach its full potential, we had to reach out and get help and thankfully, we have family and friends who were really up for the task. Both our parents have become very integrated in the business with our mother, Maria, taking over all administrative tasks and handling correspondence with our vendors and suppliers. Our father, with his background offers a lot of financial and business advice and makes sure we’re up to scratch with all things related as it is something which we are still learning about, so his support and help are invaluable. Apart from our parents, we’ve got a great support system in both our boyfriends and our friends, who offer so much support and encouragement – they are always pushing us and encouraging us to try new things and really believe in our business. They are the first to be there helping us set up at markets, to give us feedback and to assist us in implementing integral elements of our business to help us grow.

il-lokal: What are you working on right now? Do you have any exciting things in progress that you’d like to share.

k.arti: We are currently working on so many different projects and potential collaborations in the background which we can’t really divulge for now, but we hope we will be able to share later on this year! In April we launched a new product which holds a special place in our heart as it’s a collaboration with Roberta Genovese, the mind and creative behind Songs of Motherhood. Together with Roberta, we launched ‘HEIRLOOM’ – a special book which gives one the opportunity to make tangible all those memories and reflections which one would like to pass on to those they love. 

It was so much fun getting to collaborate with Roberta, and to create something  together which is a true reflection of both our brands and that we really feel has a  place in the market. It is something truly beautiful to create something which is going to live on and be passed on through generations, letting you breathe life into the product and make it your own. We are also working on the creation of this year’s new collection as we speak - we are currently in the process of bringing together all the artworks and tying them all together to feel like a holistic collection of artworks. We would really love to venture into creating some new interesting products also under this collection however this is something still in the works. We are so excited to share all this with you!

il-lokal: If you could collaborate with another local artist/designer/brand, who would it be and why?

k.arti: There are so many talented creatives on the island and as a design studio we are really open to collaborations, so this is a really fun question to answer because we are constantly discussing these things between us. Two creatives who we really admire are definitely Sofia and Matt, the creators behind ‘Thiss Clay’. We both love their creations and admire their creativity and playfulness when it comes to their collections. We both get so excited to see what they come up with next, each time they announce a new collection, so it would be so cool if we could bring both k.arti and Thiss Clay’s styles together into a collection. But there are definitely so many more people we would love to collaborate with – we definitely encourage anyone looking to collaborate to reach out so we can come up with new and exciting projects together!

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