Kathleen Murphy Creates What She Cannot Find

Kathleen Murphy
Kathleen Murphy

Kathleen Murphy is drawn to beauty. Between making her own jewelry and now her fine art line, the creative spirit within her is nothing short of infectious. Kathleen says her first motivation to make her own jewelry as a child came when she couldn’t find what she wanted anywhere else.

Fine art came later, as the same type of hands-on solution to an inability to find exactly that which she was seeking. Today, Kathleen is the winner of Belk’s Southern Designer Showcase, and she continues to break the mould, drawing attention from interior designers like Beth Keim of Lucy and Company in the process.

When it comes to understanding her style, the first thing you should know is that Kathleen loves balance, from outfits to room design. Art is meant to make a statement, and Kathleen’s ability to emphasize the features of a room by carefully organizing the color of pieces explicitly created for that room expresses her diligence as well as her personality. Rare materials and delicate, light features make her work fine and airy—capable of being an augmentation or the focal point.

Kathleen Murphy
Kathleen Murphy

What inspired you to start your own business?
In high school, I wanted to find large statement earrings that were simple and light, but I could not find anything like what I was looking for… so, I decided to try and make some myself. Later, I wanted a large, abstract painting for my living room, and, again, I could not find one with the right color scheme and the right size, so I painted what I wanted.

My father was in the U.S. Navy, and we moved every two or three years. When we lived in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, I hunted for conch shells on the beach to do shell art. When we lived in Washington State, I began trying to paint abstract landscapes of the beautiful mountains and Puget Sound. By the time I was in high school, I was selling the things I created.

What materials do you use to make your jewelry?
I like hunting for what is unique. Often, I want to find different trims and fringes from fabric stores and then add brass and gold components.  Just last week, I went to a high-end upholsterer in Hickory and found unused leather pieces. I get excited when I find recycled glass, carved bone, or exotic woods that I haven’t used before.

Kathleen Murphy
Inside Kathleen Murphy’s studio

How did you get involved with the interior design community here in Charlotte, and in particular Beth Keim?
Beth and Lucy and Co. designed a house for a good friend. My friend mentioned to them that they should look at my Instagram page  because my pieces can be tailored to fit in many designs. It’s been such a pleasure working together. Over the years, I have also worked with many other interior decorators and clients to create the perfect custom abstract painting for their walls.

What’s your process when someone commissions an art piece?
I imagine where the paintings will hang and what the surroundings will be. I follow certain interior designers and then try to create art that they would want for their own home. If I have a commission, I interview my client, get pictures of their room, fabrics, and accessories, and then color-match my painting so that it will work uniquely in their space.

Any upcoming plans or anything we should know about?
I decided to build a studio space after I stopped my two year old from sticking a bead up her nose and my four year old from trying to paint her sister. Babies, beads, and blank canvases don’t always mix. Once the construction is finished, I hope to have many new designs.