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Traveling Between Creative Landscapes: Tabitha Emma

Tabitha Emma

Teacups, old typewriters and watercolour-painted mushrooms are just a few of the elements which evoke the sense of sentimental value prevalent within newcomer Tabitha Emma’s artwork. Portraying the kitsch with a powering sense of nostalgia, her illustrations are the things that reflective daydreams are made of.

But it’s not just illustration that takes her fancy. Currently studying to be a graphic designer and already trained in fashion, Tabitha is what you might call a jack of all trades who just so happens to do each and every one pretty damn well. She is someone who has creativity ingrained in her, which might be explained by her background. Her mother an artist who worked from home, Tabitha grew up painting, drawing, and just generally making things.

“I have always wanted to do something creative; if not art, then writing, fashion or design,” she says.

She went into fashion because she loved sewing, but had a hard time breaking into the industry’s barely open door. While she was job hunting she began to sell things online, where she discovered artists who inspired her to take her illustration skills further. As fashion illustration was a subject in school, she already had a bit of grounding to begin experimenting with different mediums. Clearly not enough to satisfy all her creative urges, she then decided to study graphic design, which, conveniently, she has ALSO really enjoyed. She is now hoping to gain a job at a design studio while she continues to make illustrations and textiles on the side. Her multi-disciplinary approach many not be so unique, but what makes her rare in the creative industry is that she seems to love each medium equally.
At this stage, she sells her work online at Etsy, co-designers Forth Thread zine and website and has a steady flow of freelance work coming her way.

“It’s quite exciting, as I never really set out to do freelance illustration,” she says.
“I just wanted to have a go at selling prints of my personal work – it was more something for myself – but then slowly requests for freelance jobs began to come through.
“It has been a rather unexpected pleasure, and a great boost to know there are people who really love my work.”

“When you first start, those first requests and sales are really exciting, because it’s hard to know how people will react to your work.”

Indeed, sometimes you might have to remind yourself that Tabitha really is just starting out. Originally from out west, she moved to Sydney about a year ago and describes the experience as refreshingly promising.

“Most creative’s are very friendly and encouraging and it has really helped push me further and get my work out there more,” she says.

With her first exhibition on tonight at Once Upon, and as the artist who designed its poster, it is pretty clear that Sydney is pushing her in the direction she should be going in. Showing alongside some of her favourite artists, including Kareena Zerefos, Kareem Rizk and Courtney Brims, she understands how big this opportunity is for her and is “nervously excited,” as to be expected.

“It will be great exposure being in the same room as established artists but also a little nerve-racking, knowing the standard of work that will be there,” she says.

Tabitha will also be showing at the Design Centre Enmore’s graduation exhibition on December 2.

words: Seema Duggal


December 12, 2009 at 10:20 AM Jasmine said...

What amazing work! She must be very dedicated and loves what she does, Keep up the great work! :D

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