Karl Kopinski is a talented and renowned illustrator, born and bred in Nottingham. We often cross paths at local events and our annual sample sales, and he'll always be dressed in Universal Works!
Due to social distancing restrictions, we were unable to visit in person as previously planned for our "Works" film series, however, we still got the chance to interview Karl and learn more about his career in illustration, we were even lucky enough to be given a piece of art from the man himself.
Photo Credit - Instagram: @oliviersouille
Tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are in your career today?
I was born in Arnold Notts in 1971, my dad's a jazz musician and my mum a skilled hand knitter, my sister a Viola player, and my brother an artist and bass player so it was a pretty creative environment. I was interested in and showed a talent for art from an early age. I went on to study fine art which was a bit of a failure than after a barren few years found myself working for another Notts based company Games Workshop, I worked as an in house illustrator for 7 years then went freelance around 14 years ago and haven't really looked back since. I'm lucky now as I have a huge following on social media and have worked with some great clients including Ubisoft, Paul Smith, Peter Jackson, Nike, Wizards of the Coast, Ferrari, and many more. I'm also lucky as it's given me the opportunity to travel a lot to different events all over the world. I'm now focussed much more on my own sketchbook work and publishing my books as well as keeping a steady flow of client based work.
Is there a favorite exhibition or art installation that you have visited in the past that blew you away? Anyone’s work you would love to see after lockdown?
I couldn't say there was one in particular, but I love the national portrait gallery in London, I regularly visit and make sure I pick out a couple of artists work I want to check out, there's so much in there! I missed the big Freud exhibition after he died which I was gutted about, I'd also love to see an exhibition of Jenny Saville.
Who or where do you look for as a source of inspiration?
It sounds a bit of a cliche but I really do look for inspiration everywhere, I think its a state of mind, you have to stay curious and interested in things, also there's so much information available now it can be a bit overwhelming. I ride my bike a lot which clears my head a bit but also allows me to spend some time outdoors, also I have young kids and they have a great attitude towards the world (mostly).
Has lockdown changed your way of working day-to-day?
Really not at all, the only difference really was that I ride my bike on my own now rather than meeting friends, I have missed going into the city in the evenings and weekends though.
You are a Nottingham born and bred artist, how does the city influence your work?
I think its rich history has influenced my work definitely, I love the Victorian period too so areas like the lace market and those great Fothergill-Watson buildings are inspiring. I also drew Robin Hood obsessively as a kid! I think One thing I've always liked about Nottingham is it seems to be like a mini-hub for fashion and creativity, more so in the last decade, it's a small centre with some beautiful countryside within close range, so it's like the best of both worlds.
We know you are a big fan of UW. Do you have a favourite piece from Universal Works of all-time and why?
All-time?... The Baker's Jacket is so iconic, I have one in Royal Blue that is just getting better with age. From the SS20 I love the Warmus II Ecru linen, I also Love the 'Save That Jersey Tees', the collabs are always amazing too and of course the summer shirts but honestly there are so many nice pieces I could just go on and on and on.....
Instagram | @karlkopinski
Website | https://karlkopinski.com/