Several months ago, while doing research on pinup model Inkerbella, for her feature here, I made sure to note the artists’ signature beneath the illustrations I saw of Bella at her website. That brought me to Portland, Oregon-based artist Karina Dale.
Karina’s illustrations initially bring to mind (my mind, anyway) the classic pinup artwork that graced the noses of famous World War II fighter planes like “Memphis Belle,” “Dauntless Dotty,” and “Diamond Lil,” not to mention the traditional Sailor Jerry tattoo designs. However, Karina’s renderings of her models are more refined. In her own words, Karina says; “I draw real people, of all shapes and sizes, and believe that beauty is in real life all around you.” Many of the models she chooses are modern-day burlesque performers, such as Violette Beretta (shown at left), and pinup models, such as the aforementioned Inkerbella and the iconic Masuimi Max.
If you’re in the Pacific Northwest, you can see Karina’s talent showcased at any of her shows she presents in and around Portland. You can also see them in her book; PDX Gorgeous: The Art of Karina Dale, available at Amazon.com. To see her latest interview, along with a few more samples of her artwork, just click the link to read and view more.
CHRIS CHARLES: Great having you here, Karina! As you know, our mutual friend Inkerbella led me to you.
KARINA DALE: Yes, I worked with Inkerbella a few years ago and did a cute pinup that has graced many an instrument case and bumper. It’s one of my faves.
CHRIS: It graces one of my drum cases. I find your pinup artwork somewhat reminiscent of the traditional Sailor Jerry tattoo artwork, but more refined. What first inspired you and how did you get started?
KARINA: I’ve never been compared to Sailor Jerry before, but my work is easily translated into tattoo design. I use containing lines and draw in an American comic book style, leaning toward realism. I got my start doing portraiture, so I tend to spend a lot of time getting the faces just right. That’s what I know how to do. Much of my inspiration comes from comic books but my biggest influences are Michael Turner, of Witchblade, and Olivia DeBerardinis, the world renown Playboy pinup artist.
CHRIS: Do you ever have models pose for you in person?
KARINA: Only ones I’m dating. I don’t have the heart to make people sit still for that long when I have three cameras at arms reach almost all the time. It seems a little indulgent. I embrace technology.
CHRIS: Any models you haven’t drawn yet, but would love to?
KARINA: No, I pretty much draw who I want. People have remarked on my lack of Bettie (Page), but believe me, I drew the hell out of her for years. It was all in pencil though. I should do something more current.
CHRIS: So, to your knowledge, what body parts have people tattooed you artwork on?
KARINA: Legs, arms, back, and quite a few forearms. I do a lot of PG-rated work people aren’t afraid to flaunt. Other artists choose to do more nudity, and I’m all for it, but you won’t find their art plastered on bumpers or on flyers all over Portland, or many forearms.
CHRIS: Have you ever done any modeling or are you strictly a behind-the-scenes-girl?
KARINA: Ha! No, I am scary huge, I do not model. That’s like asking Worf from Star Trek if he has done any modeling. No, I don’t do that.
CHRIS: Many people, who even know what it was in the first place, think Burlesque is a lost art, but that’s not quite true, is it?
KARINA: Anyone who knows what it is probably knows about the resurgence, by now. It’s been a few years. There are burlesque shows on tour right now that have been featured in the national news.
CHRIS: Something tells me you’re a Rocky Horror Show fan. True?
KARINA: I have attended a few showings of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, but I have never done props, or callbacks or dressed up.
CHRIS: Any events you’ll be appearing at in the near future?
KARINA: Just my regular shows in town, Portland, Oregon. You can usually find information about where I will be at BurlesquePDX.com
CHRIS: What projects do you have in the works now?
KARINA: Right now I’m concentrating on doing commissions for clients. Each drawing is a whole new project.
CHRIS: Well, thanks so much for giving me this little exclusive with you, Karina. In closing any shout-outs to anyone?
KARINA: I decline to shout out on the grounds it may incriminate me.
Kit Katastrophic, of the Bridgetown Bombshells burlesque troupe
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Chris flirted with the music business there and in Nashville before joining the U.S. Army and serving in South Korea. He remained in Asia for several years afterwards, teaching English and covering the regional entertainment scenes. Currently in a mindset between Seoul and San Francisco, besides Idol Features, you can also catch his writings in the print edition of the quarterly magazine, Effective.
When American burlesque was in its heyday, Asian striptease performers were practically unheard of. However, with the emergence of “neo-burlesque” in the mid-1990s, a few Asian ladies have taken to the stage, doing the retro
The above circa 1940 video of Chinese-American burlesque queen Noel Toy performing her famous fan dance, makes it clear to see why she was was often billed as “The Chinese Sally Rand.” Undoubtedly the most