top of page

Carol Masterson

Carol primarily works in digital design that’s surface pattern design, and she loves illustration and collage. She generally works in watercolor as well as pen and ink. She joined RWS last November. Carol gathers inspiration everywhere for her pattern designs, looking for things that visually capture her interest. She takes different elements and combines them to make something attractive or compelling. As a former graphic designer, surface pattern design was an organic progression for Carol, which is great because it involves color and shape and composition--all things she loved about graphic design. The benefit is that there is no client until the very end who either likes it or not, whereas in graphic design you have a client from the very beginning providing input. She wanted something where she could let her creativity go wild. Surface pattern design is similar to Carol’s collage process in that a lot of the time she takes different images and arranges them on the digital page, duplicating and casting things off to the side that don’t work. In collage, Carol starts with one image that she finds compelling and as she pulls other images in they begin to interact with each other and the theme of the piece begins to reveal itself. She enjoys this process of discovery because it creates themes she never would have come up with if she had pulled out a sketchbook. One of her pieces in the recent 6x6 show is a great example of this. Carol is aware of representing different skin colors and faces and in this piece she made a conscious choice to look for an image of a black actor in one of her old movie books. She found an image of Dorothy Dandridge and put her neck and face on top of a paper doll from the 1940s. The paper doll arms cross the body, and what Carol didn’t notice is that the paper doll has white arms. “It’s a piece that makes you think, including me as the artist. I think, what does that mean? There are so many ways to interpret this….That was the most compelling piece to me and it was a total accident.” These decisions may be intuitive, but there are definite connections happening in Carol’s mind. Carol has a shelf of books in her studio that she got from various places like Goodwill or a library sale or a free pile somewhere. She says they are books no one would really love except for a collage artist because the info in them is dated or not useful anymore, but the images are cool. Their specific purpose is to provide inspiration and to be cut up. She has some of the cutouts from these books strung across the walls of her studio. The cover image in this newsletter is a picture of one of those strands. Like with her collages, there is something interesting that happens when these cutouts begin to interact. At first glance the arrangements seem arbitrary and the way the images play together is really sweet. This particular string of cutouts include a portrait of Gene Autrey, a clip without an image, followed by a boy at play (she has always been in love with children’s book illustration), an astronaut falling next to three other astronaut busts arranged on a dark square background that is reminiscent of an old television screen, juxtaposed with a diagram of different cuts of beef. The shadows cast are also visually compelling. When you start to consider the images more deeply and in context, something profound begins to take shape. The vignette seems to be exploring masculinity in a specific time and place, and perhaps an associated loss of innocence. In pulling together these seemingly disparate elements Carol has created something very compelling and a concept has evolved. These arrangements, on her inspiration wall and in her collage work, are Carol’s subconscious on display.

She hopes that when people view her work it enriches them. If the work makes her viewers feel something, that’s very gratifying for her. Carol would love for people who like fabric and wallpaper to check out Pookie’s Green Sweater on Spoonflower. She can be reached by emailing or via direct message on Instagram, @poookiesgreensweater.


bottom of page