An interview with Tash Shackleton

WNMS – What current projects are you working on Tash?
Loads! I am currently painting for exhibitions and art sales all over NZ, as well as trying to make sure all the galleries I am in have enough work. I am contemplating getting into craft markets to sell my giftware range, so there is that. Plus I am constantly expanding my giftware range as well as working on new ideas for my paintings – the latest of which is a selection of retro inspired paintings which are an expansion of my Moonlight Bay series.

WNMS – Tell us about your giftware range.
My giftware range came to fruition because I wanted some affordable products featuring my art for those who couldn’t financially commit to purchasing a painting and to generate funds through something other than just painting. My most popular item to date is my ‘Fridge Art’ magnets, but I also do glass painting (a resurrected passion from my late teens) and I am also getting into jewellerymaking featuring images from my paintings. I hope in time to make my images iconic! Well that’s my aim anyway.

WNMS – Do you sell your giftware range through shops/ galleries as well as your website or just via your website?
At this stage it’s predominantly my website and Trademe but I am contemplating getting into craft markets to promote and sell my giftware in the future as well as expanding into further online crafting markets such as Etsy.

WNMS – Your Moonlight Bay series, how did that come about?
I had always wanted to use elongated figures in my art but I could never seem to perfect a face to match. I’d drawn up a composition sans faces and had the perfect colour scheme in mind. I had the plans sitting in my sketchbook for a while unsure of whether to take the risk and commit it to canvas or not, then one day I was watching an episode of the cartoon “Hey Arnold!” and at the end of the episode they sang a song with the final line ‘On Moonlight Bay’ and it hit me like a spark… that was the theme. My faceless, elongated figures playing and lounging on the beach under the light of the moon, it all just seemed to come together. I sold my original “Moonlight Bay” piece on auction site Trademe, it was one of my most successful auctions hence my series of moonlight scenarios was born.

WNMS  – Do you paint every day?
Not every day, but most days. Usually if I’m not painting I’ll be tattooing, drawing, crafting or something generally artistic anyway.

WNMS – How many works do you currently average in a year?
I range anywhere from 50-200 paintings per year

WNMS – Do you work on multiple pieces at a time?
Always! It’s the best way I’ve found to work. At times I have up to ten pieces on the go!

WNMS – What was your first exhibition and where?
That was a while ago! Um, it was either when I made it into the final of the Telecom Art Awards, or our 6th form art class end of year exhibition -both of which were when I was only 16. I sold several pieces in our art class exhibition for $25 each.

WNMS – What type of materials do you use?
Oh… everything! I’m always elbow deep in art and craft. Everything from paint, to coloured pencil, to glass paint, metal, beads, and of course my tattoo guns.

WNMS – Do you work with sale in mind?
Definitely. I’ve always aimed to be able to make money from what I love doing and make the most of my talents.

WNMS – Do you remember your first sale? If so, what was it?
6th form, I sold 2 paintings to my old art teacher (from form 1-2), one was on a saw the other a scrub cutter blade (Our theme for the year was tools), I sold them for $25 each

WNMS – How does place – Dunedin –influence your work?
I’ve just been accepted as an artist member for the Otago Art Society so that means more involvement with art in Dunedin which I am looking forward to.

WNMS – You paint portraits, cars, pets and other commission work from photos. What percentage of your work is commissioned?
It’s only a small percentage, but I’d like it to increase in time.

WNMS – Do you work in silence or have music playing?
Music most definitely!

WNMS – What type of music?
Metal, I’m a metal head. But my music taste expands to rock, grunge and punk etc so there is some mellower stuff in amongst the metal!

WNMS – Do you prefer to be on your own while you work?
On my own, but that’s kind of hard when I’m tattooing!

WNMS – What inspires you to paint and how do you keep motivated when things get tough in the studio?
I have to remember I am making money doing what I love and there are not many people out there who can say that. I know many who would kill to be able to do what I am doing. I get to work my own hours and am essentially ‘living the dream’. I have to remember how lucky I am to have this luxury and for having the talent in the first place – I don’t want to let it go to waste… I need to use it and let it grow! I also have to remember not to compare myself to other artists… that’s the biggest killer of motivation – not feeling good enough! I have to remember I am unique, my art is unique so comparing my work is not only de-motivating but it is also counterproductive.

WNMS – What was your most fun selling experience?
My solo exhibition at Terrace Downs Resort:  “Strangely familiar”. It was run by fellow artist Rachael Inch who does an amazing job of running regular exhibitions at the resort. She made it such an awesome experience and I had an absolute blast!

WNMS – You’ve been an artist for the past ? years, how has the influx of social media changed the way you market your art?
I have been an artist FOREVER! It’s in my DNA. The influx of social media has expanded my market. I find Facebook a great platform for marketing my art especially my tattooing.

WNMS – What’s been your greatest success as an artist?
One of my paintings was bought to be on the set of the TV program “Go Girls” which was pretty cool. I have yet to actually see it but just the thought that it was bought with that intention was still pretty neat! Oh and having a bunch of school kids wanting to do their school project on me, as a NZ artist, was pretty awesome – them randomly approaching me via my old website is not something I would have ever imagined happening as an artist.

WNMS – What other interests do you have (besides painting)?
Tattooing. Writing – I’m currently working on a sci fi/thriller novel as well as countless other projects. Unfortunately my writing always takes second place to my art/craft/tattooing so I often find it hard to get the time these days!

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