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Craft With Conscience: Tara Guluska

Craft With Conscience

'Craft With Conscience' began in early 2016 as a weekly Instagram series dedicated to sharing the work of other creatives and as a platform to openly discuss certain aspects of ethical art-making and consuming in the age of the internet and social media.  

This series arose out of my own frustrations related to seeing my work constantly copied stitch-for-stitch, sold without permission, and credited to other people.  Rather than wallowing in unproductive negative emotions, I wanted to find a way to bring this common issue to light in a positive way.  My solution was to share the work of artists, crafters, designers, and makers who I greatly admire for their originality and dedication. Initially, I shared work similar in materials or subject matter to my own, having heard the argument, "There are only so many ways to stitch plants, I'm not copying you..." one too many times.  The truth is, no matter what the medium or subject, every artist from hobby crafter to professional painter has their own perspective and voice. It takes effort to develop one's visual vocabulary and it can be disheartening when your's is taken and misused by other individuals and sometimes larger companies.

All that being said, now is an incredible time for working artists because of the vast resources of the internet including sources of inspiration, the ability to reach a large and global audience, and as a community building tool. As you may know, I love sharing my work on Instagram and following other makers. It's a wonderful way to connect with other artists, be inspired, and feel supported, but we all need to be aware of how we use these resources and what effect it may have on others.

Since the start of 2016, 'Craft With Conscience' has grown and evolved just like any other creative pursuit and has recently expanded to include short interviews with featured artists. I've asked participating artists a series of questions about their studio process, sources of inspiration, and how image-sharing sites like Instagram and Pinterest influence and affect them. I hope you read on to see what they have to say!

Craft With Conscience: Tara Guluska

Sarah Benning

Tara Galuska // Paper Artist // New Westminster, BC, Canada

Tara is a paper artist whose delicate and intricate miniature paper plant artworks explore interior spaces and the plant owners themselves. Born in Zimbabwe in 1984, Tara spent her early childhood in Zambia before moving to Australia. She now lives in Vancouver, Canada, with her husband and two cats (and many plants). Over the last two years Tara has built a thriving art practice and business and creates artworks for clients from all over the world. In addition, she works with select brands to create custom work for their projects including Urban Outfitters, The Land of Nod and last year she lent her paper engineering skills to a commercial for Tide.

Check out more of her amazing work on instagram, facebook, or her website.

1. I began my #CraftWithConscience series as a way to simultaneously promote the work of other makers and to discuss the complicated issues surrounding creative inspiration and developing one's own visual vocabulary. The internet is an ever growing fixture in many artist’s lives and businesses, could you talk about the role the internet plays in your artistic and professional life?

I love the internet! It's given me so much and plays a huge role in the business side of my art career. It's where I get the majority of my opportunities and where most of my clients and collectors find me too.

As much as I love it though I do feel more of a desire to define my boundaries around it for myself and my creative work especially lately.

I'm creating some new work right now and really feel a desire to cocoon and I don't want to share it because I'm not ready.  I had been putting pressure on myself to share because "that's what you're supposed to do" but had to ask myself why?  I need to be able to make work for a while without any feedback or too much input from others work.

2. Where do you find inspiration for your work?  In what ways has the internet and/or social media impacted your design process?

My life and my experiences are where I find my inspiration! Some recent inspiring adventures include a visit to the Vancouver Art Gallery, ROVE an art walk I also showed work in and a heritage home tour in my neighbourhood. Today I'm going to visit some used bookstores and go on a walk on the Fraser River for a little boost of inspiration. Instagram and all the art available to view online is great but there is nothing like real life inspiration!

Photo by:  Nicole Wong   @tokyo_to
Tara Galuska CactusArtwork.jpg
Photos by:  Nicole Wong   @tokyo_to
Tara Galuska Snake Plant Artwork.jpg

3. Sites like Pinterest and Instagram are popular places for artists’ to share their own work. They also act as public visual archives, often leading to creative work by others that walks the line between ‘inspiration’ and ‘infringement.’ Have you encountered copies of your work online and how does it affect you? What are your strategies for dealing with it?

I had one of those experiences this morning actually! It used to feel like a punch in the gut but now it doesn't get under my skin so much or for as long.

I am only in competition with myself and that is my main focus. I feel so grateful to be a creative person because I am always coming up with new work and ideas and asking myself what is next? Where is my work going? How can I push this?

I don't like being copied but I do like when I have inspired someone to explore their own creativity! That is one of the many things that makes putting my work out there worth it, even if it may mean dealing with a few copies here and there.

Photo by:   Nicole Wong       @tokyo_to
Snake Plant Tara Galuska.jpg

4. Do you have any advice for aspiring artists or creative business people?

I would not be where I am without the support and accountability that I get from my community and I encourage artists and creative business people to find yours or even make your own!

Being an artist and the sole person working on my business can be very lonely and often overwhelming. It was something I really struggled with and fortunately that turned around when I found THRIVE a community for female visual artists.

Tiny Plant Art Tara Galuska.jpg

5. Do you have any favorite blogs, artists, or Instagram accounts that you’d like to share?

Some artists I am very excited by at the moment include @jonburgerman, Natalie Baxter and @aimeehennybrown. Also while it is not specifically an art account @chillwildlife is everything good about the internet!

Snake Plant Tara Galuska Paper Art.jpg
Photo by:  Nicole Wong   @tokyo_to
Photos by:  Nicole Wong   @tokyo_to

All photos provided by the artist