Directly following her studies at the Queensland College of Art in Brisbane, Australia, Karen worked as a photographer and photography teacher until she moved to Berlin, Germany in 1988. While dodging the Iron Curtain's falling rubble, she held the position of Art Director for the English-language magazine The Edge. After The Wall succumbed, she became Art Director for the berliner.
In 1991 she escaped the cold winters and a bankrupt Berlin economy and moved to then recession-plagued San Francisco. Through the early 1990s, Karen designed a variety of branding and print materials: logos, brochures, music CD packaging, book covers, event fliers, manuals, user guides and catalogs. Her clients included Pacific Bell, Bank of America, New Albion Records, and the Scottish Cultural & Arts Foundation. She also briefly taught Composition and Design in the Photography department of the institution now known as Academy of Art University.
Having pursued studies in Interface Design and Instructional Design at the SFSU Extension – and also having participated in their Artists-in-Residence Program – in 1996, she made a hard left turn straight into the craziness of Web 1.0. It was the early, fast-paced years of the Internet. For the next five, almost sleepless, years, she designed sites for clients such as Food.com, Bank of America (various intranet and internet), SegaSoft (HEAT), Esilicon.com, DHL, Creative Labs (The Press Room), JavaSoft (Developers' Conference, Face to Face), Xuma Technologies, APBiotech, PG&E ES, Pacific Bell (various atHand subsites – Playbill, Waterskiing World, Windsurfing Magazine, Hollywood Reporter, Siskel), NASA (math lessons for disabled children). During this period she also subcontracted at Web agencies Interbrand, Ikonic/USWeb and Agency.com.
In 2000, she founded Black Graphics so she could apply her extensive design knowledge and experience in print, branding and Web to the nonprofit and public-interest sectors. Through Black Graphics, Karen often works with strategic partners such as Fenton | Communications and Digital Justice. In 2008, Karen relocated Black Graphics from San Francisco to New York.
Her work has won numerous awards and been published in a variety of design books and magazines. She is a member of ATypI (Association Typographique Internationale), TDC (Type Directors Club), and ADC (Art Directors Club).
She also teaches weekly classes – Typography: The "Invisible" Art of Stunning Design and Graphic Design Fundamentals – at Noble Desktop in New York.