Synthesizing Reality: Exploring New Projects by Karen Hochman Brown


stARTup alumna Karen Hochman Brown uses digital-synthesizer software to create computer-assisted drawings from virtual paintbrushes. When we dropped by her studio, she showed us the seemingly endless possibilities of her digital tools. “I am able to change the parameters settings of the virtual paintbrushes, and then instruct the computer to apply ‘brushstrokes’ one by one, based on visual information in my photographs,” she explained.

Fair Co-Director Shannon Kaye’s portrait from stARTup LA 2019

Fair Co-Director Shannon Kaye’s portrait from stARTup LA 2019

Karen has another interactive direction with her work — a Portrait Project that turns subjects’ visages into unique digitally synthesized artwork. A crowd favorite at stARTup LA 2019, Karen decided to reprise it at stARTup SF. And like LA, Karen will be creating those portraits in real time as you watch.

After a brief photo shoot, you can sit back and watch while she crafts your digital painting. You will leave with a unique portrait presented as a museum quality print, ready for framing. And if you can’t wait till the fair, Karen is taking portrait commissions through Artfinder.

After being mesmerized from her digital process, we asked her to discuss her inspirations, practice, and where she sees herself and her work in the future. Here’s what she had to say with our Content Curator:

Why or when did you decide to make work?

I have always been an artist. My grandmother cultivated that in me.

What inspires you currently?

Right now I am inspired by a project thought up many years ago. Participating in the stARTup Los Angeles show has given me the opportunity to create a live art creation event. I am shooting quick portraits and rendering them with digital painting methods. Portraits will be printed onsite, ready to go home in the happy hands of my customer subjects. I have had a lot of fun mulling over this idea and now that I get to try it out, I’m super excited.

What tool or medium would you be lost without?

I’d be nowhere without my computer. I think I might be able to live without Photoshop, but there are some other programs that are essential to my process.

Other than your art practice, what other work do you do?

I have been fortunate enough to not have to have a day job. That said, I volunteer my graphic design skills to organizations I am involved with. I have designed sets for a local community theater, and sometimes I take to the stage. I also sing in a choir.

What’s the coolest thing that’s happened to you in your career?

Landing a museum show at Museum of Art and History in Lancaster. I love the open and trusting attitude of the team there in allowing me to create new experimental work. I even did an animation and music collaboration with my daughter-in-law.

If you could be in any museum, what would it be?

The Guggenheim in New York. I would love to see my work in that architectural setting

If you could own any piece of art, what would it be?

Music, Pink and Blue No. 2 by Georgia O'Keeffe

And finally, what’s your least favorite color?

I’m not big on puce.


All stARTup artists are vetted by an independent jury for each fair to ensure that art collectors, enthusiasts, and professionals are discovering and purchasing works from today's top independent artists in the market.

Subscribe to our newsletter for Artist Exhibitions, special features, and details about our upcoming fairs - like stARTup SF 2019. Stay tuned for our list of Exhibiting Artists. Buy advance tickets.

Find Karen on Instagram: @hochmanbrown

Q&A by Content Curator Mica England