The interviews are conducted by VB Contemporary's director, Vian Borchert. Besides being a multidisciplinary noted international artist. Borchert has been a writer and art critic for over a decade contributing with art articles in a national online newspaper. Borchert gets called upon to cover and write reviews for major retrospectives and exhibitions in world-class American museums.

Image of Artist Karen Ghostlaw
About the artist: Karen Ghostlaw is an international photographer and Editor for The Pictorial List Magazine.  She has a degree in Fine Arts and Photography from Pratt Institute, and has been creating work since the early 1980’s. Karen has been published and exhibits internationally, receiving awards of recognition for excellence in the professional field of photography, for images as well as significant projects and installations.  She creates and exhibits her handbound books in major art fairs globally.  Karen collaborates with artists on projects internationally, diversifying and broadening her understanding of the way contemporary photographers are developing new dialogues in the fields of art and photography today.
Tell us about your "Beginnings", how did you start your artist/photographer journey? When did you know that you wanted to become a photographer? How did your childhood influence your photography career path?  My childhood was not art inspired until my highschool years when I met my first mentor in the arts,  Margaret Tashiro Caccamo.  Maggie was my highschool art teacher and allowed me to express myself in new ways.  She gave me the tools to create art in a variety of mixed media, and gave me confidence as a young woman to apply to art school.  We remained close friends until her unfortunate death in 2016. My visual storytelling began at Pratt Institute in 1980.  I am a process driven individual, and found inspiration in the photography and printmaking departments at Pratt. Their philosophy on how to take a photo,  and what makes a good photo reflected the thoughts and explorations of the Pictorialists in the early 1900’s, believing the camera was a tool to create art, not only about documenting a moment.  At Pratt I majored in Photography with a minor in Printmaking and a focus in Bookbinding.  I was fortunate to have renowned American photographers like William Gedney to inspire my creative and critical thinking behind the lens. Gedney shared his knowledge in capturing light through a pinhole constructing camera obscuras.  He had us explore photography with different camera formats, from large format 4x5, 8x10, 21/4 to 35mm.  He shared different developing processes giving us ways to express our ideas through creating images in different ways. Bill gave us the skills to display our images in a linear progression, creating visual stories through constructing artbooks. This opened up different ways of thinking about photography for me.  No longer did I see the photograph as a document of that moment in time, but a visual way of creating and communicating new dialogue, with a familiar voice that links together a storyline transcribed through photography.
Credit: Karen Ghostlaw
Walk us through your day and creative process? What does a day for "Karen Ghostlaw" look like? Where do you find inspiration in the area by which you reside? My creative daily process is important to me.  The people I work with around the world have different hours, and tick to a different clock.  My day usually begins at 3:00 am.  I wake to a lovely cup of Go Jo and begin to look over my day, and anything that came in over night.  Then I begin with a short edit of my own work and a post to instagram.  My work as an editor of The Pictorial List Magazine is an unexpected direction in my life, and one that inspires me everyday.  Our creative director Melanie Meggs lives in Australia, a 14 hour time difference.  We often communicate around 4:00 am so I understand where I can support my team and our artists.  From 4:30 to 9:00am I get most of my editorial work organized or completed.  The rest of the day I focus on my personal work, I have many projects and collaborations I am working on at home and internationally.  I am rarely without my camera, finding inspiration everywhere.  I touch base again in the early evening with Melanie, we go over any work that she can review in her day. I end my days with an hour at the gym, or yoga, is important for me to clear my mind, and being a person with an abundance of energy, the exercise helps me wind down.  I love to cook, so I prepare a lovely meal. After dinner I am TOAST!  I edit my work in lightroom, go through some emails, respond to artists, then fall asleep for the next few hours. What inspires me most in the area I reside in would have to be my family.  Although they are all adults now, we homeschooled together through highschool, until they took up their studies at university.  Three have found inspiration in different areas of the arts, one is a dancer, choreographer, videographer and editor living and creating in Berlin.  Another is studying at Central Saint Martins in London as a fine art fashion student.  Another child is a third year student at School of Visual Arts, a fine arts projection with a focus in painting and sculpture. My oldest child is working very hard to make our country a kinder, more supportive place for all Americans, and personally creates sound and music in his home music studio. Much to inspire and push me to think about art in a multitude of ways. When I’m not home working, you can find me playing in the Shawangunk mountains just a short drive from my home in the Hudson Valley.  The Hudson River Valley inspired the Hudson River School expressionists between 1825-1870, and still inspires many artists today with the incredible light and rolling hills that roll down to the Hudson River.  There are many parks, including outdoor sculpture parks that are always available to walk and inhale nature and art. The city is a stones throw, and I share a space there with my child that attends SVA, where there is inspiration reflected in every window and puddle in NYC. I am never without inspiration, it is finding enough time in the day to enjoy everything while still finding balance.
As a fine art photographer, what have been some of the biggest challenges you've faced in your career? And, what have been your best achievements for you personally and professionally? I think my biggest challenge as an artist and photographer, can be  myself.  I think as artists most of us struggle with this.  After schooling my four children, there was almost a 30 year gap in my CV. My biggest challenge was finding how to re-enter and engage the professional world of Fine Art Photography again.  That gap felt like the Grand Canyon.  I went to a lecture about how to get involved in the arts, galleries, festivals, and fairs.  I sat with one of the speakers after explaining my huge gap I was trying to bridge. She gave me the best advice ever, just start applying and  submitting my work to exhibitions and calls that my work would fit well in. She said before you know it you will fill your CV.  She was 100% right.  The more I applied myself, the better direction I had with my new work. I developed a language and dialogue to talk about my photography. I worked to create a new foundation,  developing a website, and developing a social media presence. Stepping out of the darkroom and into the lightroom. The more experience and knowledge I gained strengthened my practices, giving me new opportunities to make new connections in the field of photography and in the arts. My community soon grew internationally.  My journey led where I found support for my work.  I never changed what I did to fit into any group or genre. Instead I found inspiration and profound new direction by allowing my work to lead the way. There have been so many profound life changing achievements in the recent years of my reemergence into the world of art and photography.  If I was to pick my top three, number one by far,  would have to be being invited to join the team at The Pictorial List.  Never in my life did I think I would ever be an editor for a photography Magazine, yet here I am totally loving my work and working with photographers all over the world to help facilitate and support their efforts to get their visual stories told to a broader audience.  I grow everyday as an artist being exposed to so many different ways of observing and expressing  critical and creative thought through photography. Number two may have to be exhibiting at Arte Laguna in Venice, Italy in the Arsenal on my 60th birthday, winning the Business for Art Prize, and walking up on stage in front of a huge supporting audience, and receiving the award.  After the festivities and awards ceremony, there was an amazing boat ride down the Grand Canal to a reception and celebration.  One for the record books! Number three has not happened yet, but is about to happen. This will be my very first solo exhibition in the beautiful gallery Al-Tiba9 in Barcelona, Spain.   Mohamed Benhadj has curated an exhibition of my earliest work of my ‘Beginnings’ as a photographer at Pratt Institute in my first photography classes with William Gedney where we explored the human figure in light and space, much like a figure drawing class.  The exhibition’s opening night and vernissage will be on March 14.  That will be another night that will remain etched in my memory as one of the most profound experiences in my photographic career. I can’t wait to see what’s around the corner,  no peeking, I love surprises!
Instagram: @karenghostlaw Website: https://karenghostlaw.com/