I decided to purchase my first computer. When I did so, my boyfriend at the time informed the cashier at the computer store, “You just sold my girlfriend a new boyfriend.”

> Your name, plus your original "web name/handle"

Karen Ingram, krening.com, kareningram.com

> Your first web encounter, year etc.

I’m honestly not sure. I remember being in the computer lab at my university; chatting on IRC… Looking up friends’ bands on the internet… must have been around 1995.

My first experience building anything for the web was a website for my mom’s catering company (around 1999) and I‘d used Unix operating systems in texture mapping for the textile company I worked for from 1995-1999.

As a child I had created very simple computer programs with DOS, but my mom’s website was the first thing I really built for the internet.

> What our readers might recognise you most for, when you first hit the web.

Armed with the skills I picked up after building my mom’s website, I felt encouraged to find a way to use the web to express myself.

I decided to purchase my first computer. When I did so, my boyfriend at the time informed the cashier at the computer store, “You just sold my girlfriend a new boyfriend.”

I was enamored with the self-publication aspect of the web and was intrigued with the potential to make my artwork move… I commenced to learning Flash and built my first personal website.

Krening.com was composed from a few hand drawn images I had made and accompanied by stories written by friends. The first versions didn’t have any info about who I was—I just wanted the site to be a entity in and of itself, without much information about me.

Krening.com was widely characterized as an “analogue” approach to design on the web, because I chose to leave the “hand” in my work, as opposed to making it super slick and vector smooth. In fact, in his book “Fresher Styles for Web Designers” (2009), Curt Cloninger dubbed my work “Hand Drawn Analogue Style.” I recon it fits.

When I moved to NY in 2000 there were lots of talented people doing web experiments including Lee Misenheimer, Matt Owens, James Paterson, Jemma Gura, Amit Pitaru, Joshua Davis and the Dreamless crew, Evan Mathis, Bob Ippolito, Patrick O’Brien (Transfatty), Toby Joe Boudreaux, Amy Kreider…

There were also many amazing small shops like WDDG, the Chopping Block, One9ine, and countless others.

It was a very exciting and collaborative time. Those were the days of the “nerd herd.”

I was asked to be an editor for several design portals, including K10k (based in San Francisco) and Design is Kinky (based in Sydney, Australia). It was fun to see the energy and creativity people would put into their personal projects and creative endeavors.

Unfortunately, things slowly changed. 9/11 hit, and the economy tanked. People left the city or became absorbed in gathering clients and a lot of that experimentation stopped in favor of securing a paycheck. That most certainly became my focus.

> Your digital journey since. 

I’ve created several projects; some for business and some for personal expression.



The Business of Communication: I worked independently and as a fulltime employee for various marketing and advertising firms, including Campfire, RGA, McCann, Ogilvy, Dandelion (formerly Kirt Gunn & Associates) and BBDO. I created work for MTV, UNICEF, Virgin Airways and Absolut Vodka, and many more.

I’m happy to say that working in those agencies has been invaluable for making friends with geniuses of all types including writers, strategists, account managers, and technologists; a wide array of talented people who understand the business of communication.

Through my agency relationships, I met Alessandra Lariu, founder of SheSays. SheSays is an organization dedicated to bolstering the voice of women in the marketing and creative fields.

As a mentor for SheSays, I help ladies find innovative ways in which they can excel.

The Postcard Project: I’ve continued to pursue personal projects that aren’t soley web centric.

In 2003 I launched the “Postcard Project”; limited edition postcards of my artwork. The postcard project utilizes the affordable high-quality printing. I print each work in editions of 500 and they are available free of charge on my website.
To date, I am up to my 13th set—about 6,500 postcards total! As technology has evolved, I’ve changed the format of the cards adding supplementary content to those interested in delving into the inspiration behind the cards.

55 Liberty + Colab Projects: I have been working with Lisa Shimamura at Colab Projects for over 10 years. We initially worked together on web-based projects, but our collaborations have grown over the years to include fine art, public art installations, brand collaborations and artist-driven campaigns. Colab serves as a conduit between artists and the public, whether it be via brands or other special commissions.

More recently I've been working with Colab on content and engagement. I view "content and engagement" as an extension of the kind of interactivity I explore digitally.

I view "content and engagement" as an extension to the kind of interactivity I'd explore digitally; applied not only to marketing campaigns, but gallery shows, events, public works, street art, the works. The notion of interactivity does not have to be exclusive to a digital interface.

One of my favorite projects through Colab was for a series of public art works called Re:construction. Re:construction is a temporary public art series commissioned by the Downtown Alliance to beautify construction sites during the ongoing rebuilding of lower Manhattan.

I created "Monk Parakeets with Mourning Doves and Red Wings," a 200 foot homage to some of the avian fauna found in New York. The piece stretched across scaffolding on the corner of 55 Liberty at intersection of Liberty and Nassau streets in Manhattan.



SXSW: Early in my Krening.com days I developed a relationship with the producers of SXSW. This has continued to grow over the years. I contribute to the festival in many ways: from judging the awards show, to graphic recording, to selecting panel programming.

It’s been amazing to watch the festival grow over the years and see the audience expand and shift.

Science+Innovation+Art: At SXSW 2009 I met someone who continues to inspire me in the same way my first introduction to the web did—science journalist Christie Nicholson (from Scientific American and Smart Planet).

Christie and I became fast friends and have collaborated on several presentations (for Poptech and SXSW) on the topics of communication and innovation.

Working with Christie opened my eyes to the world of science communication and science journalism; I was inspired to dabble in the overlap between science, innovation, and art.

In 2011, I hosted the first Art of Science meetup at SXSW. It was a small collection of attendees; a girl who works in imaging for the Hubble telescope… a photo editor at National Geographic… a neuroscientist-entrepreneur… the list goes on.

This was enough for me to keep my curiosities afloat.

> What are you up to now?

The Empiricist League: I’ve been curating with a science cabaret called the Empiricist League. The Empiricist League is a lecture series that takes place roughly every two months at bars in Brooklyn, NY.

I collaborate on hosting and curatorial duties with a friend of mine, David (Lefty) Leibowitz, of the urban exploration group, the Jinx Society. We’ve had an amazing and diverse range of presenters and topics- award winning science journalists, TV show hosts, scientists, TED fellows and science fans.

It’s proven to be fun to delve into hardcore science in a relaxed atmosphere—to get people actively engaged around topics like the immune system, climate change, robotics and the like.



Cut/Paste/Grow: Another developing interest is the world of bioart and DIY biotech. Early this year I co-curated and contributed to Cut/Paste/Grow—a Brooklyn-based bioart exhibit.

Along with Wythe Marschall (writer and producer at Gowanus based art venue Observatory), Will Myers (author of “BioDesign”), Daniel Grushkin (journalist and co-founder of the Brooklyn DIY biotech lab, Genspace) and bioartist Nurit Bar-Shai, we brought the amazing work of bioartists around the world to the Observatory art space in downtown Brooklyn.

Several art events emerged from the exhibit, including one at SXSW. The group of us collaborated with attendees of SXSW to create a crowd-sourced mosaic of a unicorn made from genetically modified bacteria.

The strain had been bioengineered to produce phosphorescent proteins that glowed red and green. NY1 TV news reporter Adam Balkin proclaimed, we created "the world’s first ever giant unicorn-shaped piece of bacteria.”

With the Unicorn Mosaic project, we created a fun, artistic, provocative and educational experience. Biologists use genes responsible for phosphorescence across fields—from neuroscience to cancer studies. They most commonly use the GFP (Green Fluorescent Protein) gene.

When bioengineered into living organisms, the glow allows researchers to see details of individual cell function. GFP is also widely used as a marker in bioengineering. In our case, we used it in bacteria to make art.

The exhibit posed questions like, “Are these quasi-artworks or quasi-organisms? Is bioart a new approach to society and ecology, a partnership with the microbial life all around us?” I’m enthusiastic about exploring these themes, as well as many others in the realm of science.




More of the Same: I’m currently queuing up more amazing projects like these. I am excited about continuing to collaborate with Colab, the Empiricist League, my partners in Cut/Paste/Grow, SXSW, and my longest standing collaborator, my sister, Virginia Ingram.

I’m also looking forward to diving into new experiences with new people. I’ve always let my curiosities lead me and this has, thus far, served me well.


Thanks for the interview, FWA & Rob!

Karen Ingram, Then and Now
Karen Ingram, Then and Now

Postcard: 'tsavo lion' + 'throttling grip'
Postcard: "tsavo lion" + "throttling grip"

Liberty street view of 'Monk Parakeets with Mourning Doves and Red Wings' for the Downtown Alliance’s Re:construction public art series in NY
Liberty street view of "Monk Parakeets with Mourning Doves and Red Wings" for the Downtown Alliance’s Re:construction public art series in NY

Artwork for the Cut/Paste/Grow art show
Artwork for the Cut/Paste/Grow art show

Postcard artwork for Cut/Paste/Grow SXSW Create
Postcard artwork for Cut/Paste/Grow SXSW Create

Virginia Ingram creating her tile for the Unicorn Mosaic
Virginia Ingram creating her tile for the Unicorn Mosaic

A close up of a participant creating a tile for the mosaic using bacterial “paint”
A close up of a participant creating a tile for the mosaic using bacterial “paint”

A collection of painted tiles that were put together to create the Unicorn Mosaic
A collection of painted tiles that were put together to create the Unicorn Mosaic

“Unicorn Mosaic”
“Unicorn Mosaic”

Collage of finished tiles
Collage of finished tiles

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