Tara Deacon

— A studio visit

One of my favorites: 'Zu Verschenken'

Tara Deacon is a South African artist I came across half a year ago. I was drawn to her leafy foliage and everyday objects, from chairs to pottery.

I got to see the brushstrokes.

There's so much online it's difficult to immediately tell whether something is special. Many works appear exciting at first, but upon another glance, they lose appeal.

Several months went by before I came across Tara's work again. Not knowing it was her, I fawned over multiple illustrations until I came across the ones I was first attracted to. The same paintings won my heart even more--my eyes hadn't tired.

Perhaps it has something to do with the amount of nature featured in her work. It's refreshing to look at. But color is the strongest component that makes Tara's paintings stand out. No matter the combination, her works all suggest a cohesive flavor of optimism. Her paintings give me a feeling of warmth, happiness and freedom.

One of my recent favorites is an illustration of cardamom. The wavy strokes on the exterior of the pods looked as if they were softly coming alive.

"Sometimes I visualize the colors before I start." Other times, Tara experiments with different shades before deciding.

Producing a consistent style hadn't always been easy. She mentioned how long it took to find her own voice. This was a challenge only after she found herself as an illustrator, which hadn't been straight forward.

Having studied industrial design, she started playing with watercolors while au pairing in Holland. Eventually, Tara created more illustrations, and moved to gouache, the paint that first sparked her interest back in high school.

After graduating, Tara had a decision to make: should she work for a furniture manufacturer? With her background, she had expertise in injection molds and product design. But it didn't feel right.

Green palettes: "I don't wash them out. I leave them in unless I really want to start over. I'll use them for reference, maybe use a few shades in the next illustration."

I related to her experience. I didn't know what truly felt right until I felt something that really didn't feel right. Having frame of reference helps point out a direction. Even if it feels less secure.

At one point Tara held two jobs to make ends meet, and tried her best to reserve enough energy to continue painting. Pouring over her notebooks, I saw that she shared similar insecurities.

"Maybe I should get a real job"

Although I consider it less and less, I do consider it from time to time. But I've come to realize that the cost of taking your own path comes hand in hand with feeling insecure. You don't know what will happen. No one's gone your way. Even if they've come close, they haven't done it specifically your way.

An Italian beach: a page from Tara's travel notebook

I'm excited to see more of Tara's work as she illustrates for a variety of upcoming projects.

Find Tara's vibrant illustrations at taradeacon.com.

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