You’re a lady with many talents, you illustrate, design and make music—Any other hidden
talents we should know about? Also, can you please introduce yourself?
I'm Tiffany Atkin, a creative from Brisbane Australia. I'm happiest when drawing and painting girls with flowing hair and pretty curves. Designer/art director by day, illustrator 24/7, occasional curator, sometimes teacher, and currently studying music production. The music is just for the love, but I'd say these skills are slowly creeping into my other work as well.
Where do you see yourself and your art headed in the next few years?
I have a fascination with mixing analogue and digital methods in both art and music, so I think this love of mashing things together will lead to some kind of multi-disciplinary art show in the future.
What are you working on at the moment? Any big plans coming up?
I've been working on an art book and I'm hoping to finally have that out by the end of the year. My second solo show is always just looming on the horizon, patiently waiting to go from late night sketchbook scrawlings to the actual thing. I've also recently been freelancing with a Brisbane creative agency and getting to work on some pretty unique design and illustration projects for some really fun clients.
Have you been met with any challenges as an artist along the way?
Client education is a big one - being able to communicate an idea well enough to get it over the line with someone who doesn't naturally think the way you do is always a massive challenge, and something I've only become good at through experience. Work/life balance is an ongoing challenge for most of us, especially as a freelancer (oh, the guilt!). And of course, the mental ups and downs of being a creative. The ability to self-edit is important but we can be our own harshest critic at times. Critique your own work, but don't be a dick to yourself!
What does body confidence mean to you? Is it something you’ve ever struggled with and why?
For me, it's just about not letting your hang-ups get in the way of a good time. I think I struggled more with this as a teenager - an untameable cowlick can feel like the end of the world when you're 16. These days I can usually pep-talk myself out of any overly-critical thought spirals. And if that fails, I pat a dog. Seriously! It's the best medicine for 99% of all shit thoughts about yourself. I don't own a dog so this can sometimes be awkward but I've found it's always worth the effort. Reminding myself that all dogs are much cooler than me actually helps me feel more confident.
Personally, I’d describe your work as colourful, raw and dreamy. Can you please share a little
about your work and how you’d describe it?
That is actually so great - thank you! It's hard describing your own work so I love when others describe it for me, especially when they like it! I lived in Japan a few years back and that time had a huge impact on my work. A lot of the Japanese aesthetic that influenced my earlier work is still there I think, just more subtle. My unintentional go-to colour palette is probably still very inspired by the mint-green taxis and pastel pink trains of my Tokyo days. On the surface, I just like to draw pretty girls, but I think there is an underlying need to communicate an emotion as well, even if I'm not 100% aware of it. There is a sense of vulnerability to the girls I draw, though I don't see them as weak at all - the opposite actually. My work for 'Praise You' is about making promises to yourself, and being strong and confident for yourself and no-one else. I see the 2 girls in the work as the same person, though I love to let others interpret my art however they like.
Do you tend to create from personal experience or from observing the experiences of others?
Mostly personal. Sometimes I'll get inspired by a beautiful photo or someone's nice face or cool hair and want to draw them, but things will usually head in an unexpected direction at some point. I do feel like I'm always trying to subconsciously achieve a level of raw emotion in the end result, which is probably why I'm drawn to texture and grit and lines that are loose and less polished. I recently started a side project, under the name The Muse Seeker (@the_muse_seeker). It's a portrait project, and a way to explore different illustration techniques and develop my skills and style further. It can be difficult to make time for side projects, but it's so important. It's really pushed me to think about my work differently, experiment more and not be so constrained by my own self-imposed imaginary boundaries.
What’s it like being a woman in the creative industry? Do you find that it has its challenges at
I've probably been quite lucky, in that I've never personally felt too discouraged by anyone for being a gal. I'd like to think this is due to my social and work circles being filled with very well-informed, excellent humans of all genders. I'm also not naturally intimidated by men with big fluffy job titles, so any attempts to shush me up for being a "she", have probably just fallen on deaf ears. Sorry mate, I didn't quite catch that... your tie's a bit crooked, very distracting. I can recall a few instances early in my career when I discovered that being an assertive young female doesn't always sit well in a more 'traditional' corporate setting. Not to downplay the issue, but as a 21 year old sass-pants this was more amusing to me than anything else - I was too busy and cute to care.
Where have been your favourite places to travel and have those places influenced your work?
Always Japan, forever. I moved there on my 6th visit. I haven't been back for a few years, but I'm always cruising Friday Fare Frenzy! (Not a paid ad). Japan influenced me greatly on so many levels. When you move to a new country alone you have to be brave and curious every day, and that fed into my work too. Plus Japan is just a wonderland for creative souls - my old neighbourhood in Shimokitazawa is still my favourite place in the world.
What’s your favourite part about your body and why?
Eyes. I get compliments on them when I dress them up with lashings of fine cosmetics, and also because I can make just one eyeball go slightly cross-eyed which is a fun party trick but very frightening for unsuspecting participants.
What’s your idea of empowerment?
I try to do little things as often as possible that push me a bit out of my comfort zone. I have a tendency to overthink, so trying to limit my over-thinking and just do, helps me to trust myself more. That little rush of accomplishment that comes after you take a leap (even a small one) feels like empowerment to me. Send that email! Buy the toothpaste with the little gel bits! Do the thing!
What message do you have for those who are struggling with body confidence/self-love/weight
or appearance issues? – What’s helped you in the past?
Don't hide yourself away. Reach out to your friends and go have fun. Remember, brushing your hair and leaving the house is the hardest part... once you're out that door you're fine girl! (Mostly just a mirror affirmation I chant to myself after 3 days in studio-cave).
Praise You isn’t just about raising awareness for eating disorders and celebrating body positivity
– it’s also shining the light on female support in the creative community, in saying that, what
does inclusivity and its importance mean to you?
Strong creative women encouraging and celebrating each other's successes is a beautiful thing and sets the tone for the whole industry. Positive, supportive vibes are contagious, so be excellent to each other!
INSTAGRAM: @tiffany_atkin + @the_muse_seeker