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Artist Spotlight: Tara Reed’s Bold Style

I’m so excited to introduce a new series to the blog: Artist Spotlights!  In this series I’ll introduce you to an artist who is killing it in surface design, illustration, or lettering so you can get inspired by their journey and story. 

Each of the artists are featured in Studio Chats in my membership The Studio, so you can hear all about their journey from newbie creative to professional designer in those chats.

Meet Tara Reed!

Tara is an illustrator and surface designer who licenses her artwork to companies around the world like Joann Fabrics, Cloud9, Jiggy Puzzles and many more.  

One thing I love so much about Tara and her style is her BOLD color choices and out-of-the box illustrations.  Tuna cans and florals?  Yes please.

How Did Tara Find Her Bold Style?

I asked Tara in our Studio Chat how she found her style and avoided the temptation to keep experimenting with various styles.

Tara: “For me it was a lifelong journey. I was doing watercolors when I was like 12 years old!  So it took me a really, really long time to find my style. So if you’re feeling frustrated remember everybody’s on their own timeline. And for me it took a really long time, you know?  I needed to work at Spoonflower for nine years. I needed to gain all this other knowledge about myself in order to do this.”

Leaning Into Community

Tara recently made the huge leap from a full time job as Community Manager at Spoonflower to a full-time freelance artist.  I asked Tara how she deals with the doubt that comes up when you’re a freelance artist, working alone, and making your own deadlines.  She pointed out how easy it is too be too hard on yourself when you work alone, and how important it is to connect with other artists!

Tara: “I think we’re just so hard on ourselves as creatives, just inherently. I think we’re just very hard on ourselves.  That’s what I love about talking to other artists. It’s like, oh my gosh, they get it. She gets it. It makes me feel less alone in this…cause sometimes I feel like I’m just over here spinning my wheels. Like, am I any good?”

Being Flexible

Tara opened up about the moment she realized that just using her designs on fabric was not going to be sustainable in the long run, because many companies want exclusive contracts with artists in their product niche.

Tara: “I didn’t realize that some companies would want you to just design for them. So why am I just focusing on fabric? So then I opened up to other products. I was like, oh, people on Instagram repost my art as nail art. So why not reach out to nail companies? So you just really have to think creatively and not just focus in on one thing.”

Now you can find Tara’s work on puzzles, wallpaper, home decor, and even earrings!

Watch the Interview

You can watch the whole interview where I get to ask Tara all my burning questions about her style, art licensing strategy, and making full-time freelancing sustainable in the Studio Chat.

Studio Chats are only available to members of The Studio and new chats come out every single month!

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