April 4th, 2018
The first glorious piece of work that I saw from Tara Krebs was actually a collaboration piece between her and an artist we have previously interviewed, Alex Garant. The piece was titled "Perennial". One can’t really ask for a better introduction to an artist’s work. Tara’s work is phenomenal, using colours that pop and grab your attention. Her scenes look happy and right out of a nature magazine, but always have much darker undertones. It seems like such a cute nature scene but upon closer inspection you can see the cute dark aspects of the scene as well.
It’s for this reason that I think her more recent work takes her to a whole new level. With her thesis exhibition and book launch coming at the end of April, titled "You'll Distract the Boys!:" A Choose-Your-Own Compendium of Female Existence. From the preview that I’ve seen, her work is perfect showing the struggles women have to endure in today's society and the fight they are taking to change it.
Tara’s work is beautiful and her message is strong and powerful.
Where are you from?
I live in Toronto, Ontario, and was raised in a suburb just North of the city.
How did you get started on your artistic journey?
It's hard to pinpoint, because I've been making art since before I can remember, and have just been compulsively experimenting ever since.
Where does your inspiration come from?
My work is highly influenced by nature, memory, emotion, pop culture, women, and so on. I'm super inspired by sci-fi and magic. Sometimes I'll glance at certain shapes or colours in passing, and a composition begins to form in my mind. But inspiration can come from anywhere, really. I'm easily intrigued.
What are you favourite books?
The Secret Garden, The Princess Bride, The Missing Piece Meets the Big O, The Disaster Artist. I tend to prefer words that are accompanied by pictures, like comics and graphic novels.
How long does it usually take to complete a piece? What is your process from start to finish?
Depending on the size of the piece and intricacy of the composition, it can take anywhere from a few days to a month. I start with sketches and then transfer them to my painting surface by drawing in simple lines and shapes. I will usually have the concept pretty thought out at this point, but will leave room to add little things in as I go. I like to allow extra details and characters to reveal themselves to me as I work. I tend to work from morning 'til night, so it's quite a time-consuming and physically laborious process.
The work for your Masters of Fine Arts degree have been great to see. Very empowering and showing issues women deal with. How did you come up with this as your thesis?
Thanks, I really appreciate that. When I entered my MFA, I'd originally planned to do something with sculpture and installation, but in the end, I couldn't deny that my heart wanted to make pictures and stories. I'd already been planning to one day create a choose-your-own-adventure exhibition, but it was such a huge commitment that I could never justify the time and dedication that sort of undertaking would require. I knew that my thesis would likely incorporate interactive elements, and have something to do with communicating the experience of being female, because that's something that's been more and more important to me as I've gotten older.
Finding my way to this project was totally unexpected, but has been such an empowering, educational, and strengthening experience for me. My illustrated book "You'll Distract The Boys!": A Choose-Your-Own Compendium of Female Existence will be available near the end of April, when I exhibit the work for my final grad school exhibition. It's been quite a ride, especially since the subject matter is such an emotionally heavy topic to have immersed myself in. So, I'm going to need a bit of a breather when I'm done. And after that, I'll going to dust off my brushes and get back to painting again! I can't wait. It feels weird having barely painted anything in the last two years.
What made you want to get a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, and then continue with the Masters program?
I'm still trying to figure that out. Haha. When I applied, I was feeling quite sad and unsure of my path. My father had recently passed away, and he had always been so supportive of my choice to pursue art, and I didn't feel like I had the chance to show him that I'd really succeeded (whatever that means) before he died. So I guess part of me felt like I somehow owed it to him to do this. To honour him, in a way. I didn't think I'd be accepted, because when I researched the programs I was applying to, there didn't seem to be anyone doing illustrative, pop-surrealist work like myself. But by some kind of cosmic trickery, I was offered a place in my preferred program, and went "Whellp! I guess I'm going to do this." My gut instinct was telling me not to, which was hard to ignore because that instinct has always served me well. I felt that I was at a crucial moment with my painting practice where I was really on to something, and was getting attention from a bunch of galleries I wanted to work with, so getting my MFA would suddenly put that on hold. But I went for it anyway, and to be honest, I never did have that moment where I went "Yes! This is where I belong" ( I hope I'm not just DESTROYING anyone's romantic notions around academia, haha). But so many great things have come out of the experience, and I'm quite sure that this book wouldn't exist, had I taken another path. So I'm glad to have had this opportunity.
When you dream, what do you dream of?
I have a lot of really weird nightmares, which is strange because I'm generally a pretty joyful person. For most of my life, I had these crazy dreams/experiences where I'd be trapped somewhere between sleep and awake, and my bedroom in real-life would synthesize with my dream world, and I'd open my eyes and see both worlds combined, and physically interact with what I was seeing in different ways. Sometimes when I'd be waking up from one of those, I'd get trapped in the in-between place, and need to walk around my apartment to shake myself out of it. I get less of those now, but my dreams are still pretty bananas.
Do you listen to music when you are creating? If so what do you like?
All kinds! I like to listen to music that reflects the mood and feeling of what I'm painting. Sometimes I need total silence. I also play movies in the background to keep me locked into my task. Those are usually films that I don't care about that much, or have already seen, because I'm sort of half-listening. I've probably "marathoned" The Office about six or seven times while I'm working. When I look at one of my paintings, the narratives of these films are so deeply engrained in my subconscious that I'll focus on a bush, or tree, or evil bunny, or something, and get a flash of what I was watching at the time.
What do you do when you aren't working on your art and school?
Being in grad school, it's hard to remember what I used to do for fun, before my life became a crazy tornado of working on my thesis during every waking moment! Haha. But generally, if I'm not in my studio, I'm ideally somewhere in nature, or having a meal with friends, or passed out on my couch, reading comics and booping my dog's nose. Probably several of those things at once.
How have you grown as an artist from when you first started to now?
Well, I'm certainly a lot taller, and my skill has improved vastly, but my subject has generally remained just as eerie as it was when I was little.
You've done a collaboration with Alex Garant. Who else have you worked with, and who would you love to collaborate with?
I actually really love collaborations! I haven't done a ton (unless you count several that I've done with kids), but I'd like to do more. There's something so satisfying and beautiful about combining your style with someone else's to create something new. But you have to really have trust and respect, and be open to a certain level of risk and uncertainty.
A Perilous Journey was your solo show with Modern Eden Gallery. How did you come up with the pieces for that show?
I've always been into fairy tales and storytelling. I used to spend a lot of quiet, alone time with my imagination, and create worlds from my mind. I started doing less of that in my adult years, because of the distraction of technology, and how fast-paced it has made everything. But I'm getting back into it.
I came up with this idea one day that I wanted to do a series of paintings that told a story, but the viewers would only be given the most climactic moments of that tale, and would have to fill in the rest of the information in their heads to "write" the story. The goal was to re-acquaint visitors with their sense of wonder and imaginative play. I showed the work a second time last year in Toronto, and this time added two little stations between some of the paintings where people could write and pin up their own contributions to the story. I wasn't sure if anyone was going to participate, but by the end of the show, the panels were covered several inches thick with little pieces of paper containing really poignant, lovely, funny, and moving bits of writing and drawing. It was really great to see people engaging in the work, sharing their interpretations, and just using their imaginations and having fun.
I have been enjoying the small zines you were making. Will those be released?
Thanks! I released a bunch locally, but just haven't had the time to prepare more for a wider release. I may have additional copies available during my thesis exhibition in April. Stay tuned!
Do you prefer Oreo or Fudgee-O cookies?
I'm one of those weirdos that doesn't really like chocolate! So I'd have to say Oreo.