A Gathering Place…..
Welcome to the Visiting Artists section of WildesArt. This is a gathering place of artists, songwriters, musicians, prose writers, and poets, who are creating for the love of creating and touching lives. I am a curious sort of person, so I always wonder what makes such talented folks who they are. What experiences and beliefs have led them to what they are doing at this point in time?
Visiting Artist: Tamara Brown
By Barbara Hengstenberg
I met Tamara Brown during what I call a “kismet moment”. Last year, I drove to South Carolina to partipate in a yoga class offered by WildesArt friend and blogger, Bonnie Avett Rini. Bonnie held this weekly class in the local YMCA, where her students welcomed me with open arms. Tamara was among the participants and is a good friend of Bonnie’s. After class, we started talking art. I was immediately impressed by the sparkle that radiated from Tamara as she discussed her work. We exchanged emails, and I immediately got back in touch with her when I arrived home. She and I have been following one another’s work ever since. I can always rely on Tamara for encouragement and advice. Her art is work that comes from her heart, her passion, and her faith….and it shows.
WildesArt: What adventures in your life have led you to where you are and who you are, artistically?
Tamara Brown: I’d say growing up in Charleston definitely impacted me artistically. I remember going to Spoleto as a kid and there were lots of art galleries on just about every street corner. My mom enjoyed the hobby of painting and I’ve always had an awareness of art. I love to travel and get highly inspired when I go to new places or the experience of a really unique atmosphere / setting.
WA: Where do you find inspiration?
WA: Whose artistic styles do you enjoy and respect?
TB: I’ve really been inspired by the artist style of Teil Duncan and other Charleston artists I discovered last year such as Lulie Wallace and Raven Roxanne. I love that they each have a very unique and distinctive voice in their work. It’s different, it’s fresh and it’s fun. Over the years, I found my voice and distinctive style as a card artist in digital design and hope to do the same with painting. I’ve recently been very drawn to want to learn more about painting as it’s a completely different medium to work with and challenges me to grow in new ways creatively. Also, I really respect artist Caroline Simas, her faith based art and how her work always points back to the Lord.
WA: How did you develop your line of designs?
TB: As a child I always loved greeting cards. I would take a lot of time scanning each card on the aisle for a family member or friend. In high school, the idea donged on me that one day I’d like to start a card company and even knew it would be called Tamagrams. I didn’t do anything with the idea until almost a decade later. I launched my greeting card company, Tamagrams in 2008 and the rest is history.
WA: If you weren’t creating art, what would you be doing?
TB: Ohhhh, honestly, I can’t image not “creating”. In my early adult years, I didn’t utilize much creative muscle and looking back, knowing what I know now…I’ve realized and now know the way God created me is with a highly creative spirit. Now that I’ve discovered and tapped into that part of me, I’d feel extremely stifled and not fully living if I wasn’t creating in some way.
WA: What other jobs have you done?
TB: I sold building materials (millwork) for 3 years to lumberyards in the northern region of the U.S. Yes…doors, windows and moulding were a large part of my vocabulary then!
TB: I love to spend time with my husband and two daughters. Doesn’t matter what we do…could be taking a walk on a nice day or taking a spontaneous drive with no particular place in mind.
WA: What is a “typical” day in the life of Tamara Brown like?
TB: I get up at 6 a.m. and help the kids get ready and see them off to elementary school. Once they are at school, I sip my coffee on the front porch and journal, read the Bible and daily devotion for about 30 minutes. Helps get my heart and mind ready for the day. Afterwards, I tiddy up a bit and then work for about 4-5 hours before my kids are out of school at 2:30. I try to be completely done with work for the day at that point so I can focus on spending time with them when they are home, asking about their day, helping with homework and getting dinner prepared. We love when my husband gets home from work and I really enjoy the 4 of us just sitting together eating dinner and chatting. After that, the bewitching hour begins as we try to get kids showered and go about the bed time routine. Once kids are down and all is quiet in the house, we finish up tasks (dishes/laundry) that need to get done and then it’s time to prop up the feet and hang out with my hubby! Life is very full in this season of life. It’s easy to often feel like there is not enough time, but I try to keep the mindset that things don’t need to be perfect. We are doing the best we can with what we have to manage and find what works best for us and our family.
TA: I find the most joy when my heart is at peace. I’m at peace when I live with the knowledge that God loves me and it’s not dependent on anything I do, have to earn or based on my performance. He loves me simply because I’m His daughter. His promises bring me joy that He is good and that He is for me. That brings the most joy to me regardless of my circumstance or what the day may hold.
WA: Where do you see yourself 10 years from now? What do you hope to be doing?
TA: In 10 years, I’d love to have found my unique voice as a painter and continue to do things that cultivate creativity. I’d love to one day also renovate homes. It’s been something I can remember being drawn to as a child and since we’ve been building our own home this year it feels like that childhood desire is welling up inside me and wants to come out and play once and for all! I used to try (and beg) to redesign my mom and grandparents’ homes when I was a teen. I wanted to reconfigure the spaces and update the design layouts. The answer was, “Tamara, one day when you are a grown up, you can have your own house and do with it what you want.” Now, I am. My husband has been our builder and I’ve been handling the design side of the process. It’s been bringing out parts of me that were always there, just never fully tapped into until now. It feels like the beginning and training ground for something on the horizon.
TB: I hope to love others well. Forgive because I have been forgiven. Walk humbly. Speak graciously. Treat others as you want to be treated. My relationship with Jesus guides my life.
WA: What have you done that you are most proud of?
TB: I’m most proud of my family (husband and daughters). Thankful to be doing life with them. They teach me, encourage me, challenge me and I’m so proud of the people they are. I love them fiercely. When it comes to art (since this is an interview about art) 🙂 …I’d be most proud to see my greeting cards in major retail chains and big box stores across the world. i’m working with Recycled Paper Greetings (a division of American Greetings since 2011) and this year designed a line of 48 faith-based greeting cards that are licensed with Legacy Publishing. It’s been a prayer of mine for a while to share more of my faith through my art and it’s been so neat seeing this line come together. The cards are part of Buy A Card, Feed A Child program that helps feed hungry children and families across the world. I love knowing the cards are not only encouraging but also truly on mission. It’s also been very exciting to see my art expand into new product categories such as journals, notebooks, list pads and coasters for the first time that are licensed through Legacy. Later this year, my first calendar I designed will be available in Hobby Lobby stores across the country. My art is also licensed on gift bags that available in T.J. Maxx stores right now. It’s been quite a journey over the past 8 years watching it grow, spread wings and take flight. I’ve been so grateful to share my art and my heart in this way. So thankful each day to wake up and do something that I love so much that I get to call my job. It’s extremely rewarding and fulfilling.
TB: I decided to license my work when my first daughter was born. I didn’t have the time or freedom to set appointments and meet with stores with an infant. A friend I met in the industry told me about licensing my art to manufacturers where the artist gets a percentage of all sales yet not have to deal with sales/ printing / inventory / logistics / shipping, etc. I exhibited at the National Stationary Show in 2011 in New York City which was what lead to my partnership with Recycled Paper Greetings.
TB: I’d say to stand out and be different in your own unique way. There is such a vast sea of amazing artists out there these days…really GREAT artists. I’d say more than a difficulty but a challenge would be finding your own voice creatively that is set apart…and that typically just takes lots of time, honing in and soul searching. I think artists have a great advantage these days with social media and different online platforms. Even with online presence it can be daunting task (to me personally) having to take time to focus on the marketing/advertising side of things as it takes me away from actually creating. It’s just part of trying to juggle and balance being an artist and a business owner which work two different sides of the brain at the same time!