Karen Schaupeter, photo by Jody Rogac

What do nightshifts, greenhouses and the New York art scene have in common? Read our interview with Karen Schaupeter to find out. Karen is an art director, stylist and curator based in New York. Back in 1999, she founded Karen Schaupeter Creative, becoming a point of reference for clients such as Epson, Vogue, Vanity Fair. In 2010 Karen starts  Ed. Varie, a gallery and bookstore with the aim to promote all forms of contemporary art and offer artists a platform to explore new concepts. Since its beginning Ed. Varie has become an anchor for emerging artists, and a home to the contemporary art community, as well as maintaining a beautiful and highly curated bookstore of limited edition art books from independent and micro-niche publishers. More after the break.

Karen Schaupeter Creative, for Coastal Living, image courtesy of Thayer Gowdy

When did you first realize that art was something you were passionate about?
Very young, in elementary school. I wasn’t exactly encouraged as an “artist”, but I kept trying. In college I started with Art History, after 2 years I transferred to fine art, I wanted to experience art-making instead of reading about it. I ended up graduating with a degree, Summa Cum Laude, from UC Berkeley in The Practice of Art.

How would you sum up the image of Ed. Varie — its focus, target audience and your aims?
Ed. Varie focuses on bringing fresh content and new artists to the art community and collectors in Manhattan. Our audience is anyone interested in expanding their horizons and visual library. We aim to maintain a certain level of spontaneity and keep our public curious as to what we will do next, as well as continue to raise the bar of commitment and quality in the practice of art and creating.

Karen Schaupeter Creative, image courtesy of Thayer Gowdy

Karen Schaupeter Creative, image courtesy of Thayer Gowdy

What’s the latest project you have been working on?
I just finished a large installation in the courtyard of MOMA PS1 for the New York Art Book Fair. We built a greenhouse dedicated to plants, and books about plants, we were honored and thrilled to have had the opportunity to work with that museum, and also for the outcome, as it seems everyone really enjoyed it!

When working on a commissioned job, how do you balance your personal taste and the client’s needs?
I always take the approach that I am there to not only help, but facilitate a client to meet their goals, aesthetic choices must always be flexible based on the demographics their brand needs to reach.

What is the most common trouble in you job? How do you cope with that?
Time, there is never enough time as projects are either coming up last minute and/or are always changing. Being super resourceful, efficient, and willing to work into the wee hours of the night!

Karen Schaupeter Creative, image courtesy of Edwin Tse

Ed. Varie Founder Karen Schaupeter in front of the Plant/Book Store, an installation built for the New York Art Book Fair 2013 at MOMA PS1 dedicated to plants and books about plants, image courtesy of Jody Rogac

How do you describe the art scene in New York compared to other major cities/art capitals?
It has taken a while for it to sink in as to what it really means to be participating on a gallery level in New York, and it is really intense (and exciting)! I see the most prominent difference between New York and other cities is scale. There are so many great cities with great (contemporary) art scenes, but they can not compare to the magnitude of New York. Yes, it makes getting established extremely challenging, but it is also to our advantage considering a pioneer gallery such as Ed. Varie might not be able to survive in a smaller town, literally due to the potential number of people that would support an emerging scene.

Being self-employed can often mean you’re working 24/7 – how do you maintain a good work/life balance?
I accept that my life is my work, there is very little distinction between what I do for work or for play, they all feed each other. I also take advantage of any gaps in my calendar to spend quality time with my family and friends.

What is the most interesting place you’ve ever travelled to?
Cuba, while it was still strongly under Fidel Castro’s rule, it was a once in a lifetime experience.

Who is the woman you’d like to see featured/interviewed here?
Valie Export, radical and famed pioneer in conceptual media art, performance and film. I discovered her when I was studying at Berkeley. Her work made a huge impact, and also justification in how I made, make, and think about art.

Is there anything in particular you would like us to mention?
I appreciate everyone who has supported my vision along the way, trust in your team builds beautiful things.