Artist Spotlight: Tahlia Day

I found Tahlia's artwork on Etsy and was incredibly impressed by the ingenuity of her style. Her technique creates beautiful shapes and her color choices add to the complexity and appeal of the work.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I live right outside Madison, Wisconsin with my mother, two younger brothers, two cats, and a dog. (My mom has been wonderful about letting me stay with her and use her big basement as a studio while I work on getting my student loans paid off.) My “day job” is freelance editing and proofreading -- I love having my own business because I’m not really cut out for the corporate 9-5 lifestyle and I can manage my time in whatever eccentric way I want :).
2. In addition to creating art, how else do you spend your time? What are your favorite hobbies, places to go, people to see?
I’m kind of a hermity geek who lives in my head most of the time. I read a lot of books (I’m a regular at the library) and spend a lot of time on the Internet. I also like movies, folk music, marathoning good TV shows on DVD, and gaming, whether PC/console or tabletop. I knit and sew occasionally when I get ideas for things to make – like most artists, I’m always interested in trying out new techniques and learning new things, and I’ve experimented with a lot of crafts.
3. Were you always drawn to art? If so, how did this manifest growing up? If not, what made you first want to become an artist?
I’ve been making up stories and creating things for as long as I can remember, but I didn’t really get into formal visual art until college. I majored in art and took a lot of art history at the small liberal arts college I went to, and then ended up getting a second degree from a professional art school (the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, which was an amazing experience). That was just three years ago, so I feel like I’m still emerging as an artist.
4. Your “Charted Unterritories” collection is so unique! How did you come up with the methodology?
Thank you! I had the original idea during a landscape drawing class where the professor had us make journals out of watercolor paper that we prepared with washes in various colors before drawing on it. I was fascinated by the random shapes the watercolor made as it dried on the paper, so I started drawing around them and noticed that my drawings developed into topography-like forms.
I really loved the notion of the water on the paper mimicking geological processes in a way and creating little continents and seas and islands and worlds, or maps of nonexistent ones. So I kept working on them after that class, refined it, added more layers of painting and drawing, experimented with different types of grounds, etc. I’ve been making them for about four years now and I still have many more ideas for ways to push the concept further.

5. Where do you draw your inspiration?
Most of it for the individual pieces comes out of the way the paint reacts on the paper -- I don’t know what they’re going to look like when I start; I start with a random splatter on wet paper and let it dry and work from what I get. That’s always interesting.
Otherwise, I’m a big fan of fantasy, folklore, and mythology, and I draw on what I’ve read to find most of the titles and stories that go with my paintings. (I’ve loved the maps in fantasy novels ever since my mom read Tolkien to me as a little girl, so that’s another inspiration.) I also look to medieval illuminated manuscripts for inspiration on the pieces that include text and margin illustrations.
6. How do you promote your work?
Not as well as I should! I’m quite shy and not good at self-promotion. I’ve shown/sold work at several local juried art fairs over the last three summers, and I have a website, but haven’t done much to promote it beyond handing out postcards in my art fair tent.
I just started my Etsy shop about a month ago, and I joined a couple of teams (Team WIST and Team Discovery), which has been very helpful (Thanks, teammates!).
7. What advice would you give other artists that are new to selling their work?
I’m still pretty new to it myself! I’ve struggled a lot with pricing and I think the best decision I’ve made is to offer prints/reproductions of my work, so I can price my originals fairly and most people can still afford to buy something. I also started making note cards this year, and those were pretty popular at the art fairs.
8. Where do you see yourself in five years?
I’m not sure! Most likely in my own place with my cats, hopefully selling more work and showing in more venues. I did some bookbinding in school and I’d like to get back into making some artist’s books, doing more with illumination and gilding, possibly doing larger-scale pieces.

Tahlia's work can be found at:

1 comment

  1. Wonderful interview and post!! Lovely to get to know a fello teammate, and to follow your blog Andrea! Nice to get to know you Tahlia !