Karen is a horror artist working on some new monsters for an exhibition as part of Dark Arts - a genre show as part of the Bram Stoker International Film Festival in Whitby (where Dracula came ashore, appropriately enough).
They take a lot of effort to bring into the world - she works literally from the bones up and spends a huge amount of time researching anatomy to make sure she's got them right. Only when the structure is sound does she produce a final drawing. That's when the real work starts. Children and animals may be difficult to work with - but they're not a patch on monsters. They turn up when they like, clear off when they like, hide - yes, Stephen, we can see you under there - and have a nasty habit of waking everyone up in the early hours of the morning.
Which is why she's running a Kickstarter campaign to fund further work and an art book revealing the stories behind each creature.
She has lived with this horrible lot for as long as she can remember and much to her parents mortification, has been drawing strange, many legged things since early childhood too. A few years ago, Karen decided to unleash the original Stephen on an unsuspecting public.
The response was amazing - he actually gets more attention than she does now, but that's as it should be. The images of him have gone down a storm - her favourite sale was to a customer who had bought one for a friends birthday, who sent before and after photos as the gift was unwrapped to the horrified cry of 'what have you done ???
What more can a horror artist ask for :)
Over the last year, she has come to realise the personal relationships other people have with her monsters. She started telling Stephens story from the music that brought him into being (a cautionary tale of what happens if you listen to Alice Cooper for several weeks straight), where he lives, what makes him so special and why they get on so much better now. That touched people more than she'd imagined it could. It's not just about the drawings- it's about bringing people into their world, letting them wander around and experience something strange and wonderful. Everyone needs a little of that now and then.
With the help of her incredibly understanding partner Rich, Karen made a short video for the project to show what it's like doing all this from the artists point of view. They included some stop motion animation featuring the models she uses to work from and channelling their inner Nosferatu, made the whole thing silent movie style.
Everyone backing the project gets a unique set of rewards - including Stephens asylum file, which includes a map of the hospital he lives in, his patient notes, newspaper cuttings and specially created Rorschach cards amongst other fun things.