Karen Welman 1959 – 2019


We were so sorry to hear of Karen’s untimely death. Pearlfisher’s founders are friends of ours and our thoughts are with Jonathan and his family as well as all the people who work in the company who have lost a unique leader. Our Garrick Hamm and Wybe Magermans both worked closely with Karen.

Garrick says: “I first met Karen when I joined Michael Peters & Partners as a junior. She was a big character, with plenty of practical jokes and a great eye for clever ideas, beautifully executed. She and Jonathan soon left to open MP&P in NY. I believe her parting gift was a firework under Mark Wickens’ chair. They soon returned to set up the award winning Pearlfisher, with the ever energetic Mike Branson. Ours is a friendly rivalry and we have the greatest respect for them.

Karen was a one-off, with a smile to match her character. She was a very talented designer and the design world will be a duller place without her.

…I can still see Wickens’ face when the firework went off! My thoughts are with Jonathan and their family and, of course, everyone at Pearlfisher.”


Wybe says; “I joined Pearlfisher in 2006 as an account director.

Karen was not a creative director in the typical sense of someone who reviewed work daily. Her role was more of an ‘agency inspirer’ – setting out a wider remit for the agency and keeping the team on track with this vision.  She wouldn’t mind my saying that she was not always the easiest person to work for. She was demanding, would always keep you on your toes, continuously testing and challenging you. Yet, this is what keeps an agency’s thinking fresh.

Life’s episodes tested Karen greatly, but she always turned those pains into positives. She launched 36º, a range of baby wear using Nasa-developed fabrics to help keep infants at the perfect temperature and reduce the risk of cot death. She fought a continuous fight for cancer related causes and more recently she focused on sustainability and especially the role of packaging in cluttering up the planet. She famously said that she was trying to design herself out of a job by pushing clients to reduce packaging and ultimately remove it altogether. 

A jester and provocateur, Karen’s voice in the creative industry will be sorely missed”.

WMH raises a glass of her favourite champagne to Karen.