Please state your name and what it is that you do.
My name is Laura Tan, and I’m a 2 dimensional visual artist. I work mainly with drawing (all media), painting (oil and watercolor) and some mixed media (drawing/painting on digitally printed images).
What got you interested in being an artist?
My love of drawing hooked me. I’ve always drawn pictures, as long as I can remember.
How long have you been an artist?
I think I’ve been an artist my whole life. In 1st grade I won a first place ribbon for a drawing I made with oil pastels. Throughout grade school I was always the designated class artist for projects. My dad would bring rolls of white paper home from the Herald where he worked early on, and he would buy me step-by-step books on how to paint—all before I was 10. By the time I reached high school it was kind of a given: I excelled in art and it was my major in college. I sold my first paintings in college.
How would you describe your subject matter?
My subject matter is representational and diverse: birds, still life, figurative, selfies, and beach landscapes. It’s also ‘playfully associative,’ meaning, straightforward narratives don’t exist in my images, like in traditional realism; I think poetic and personal associations—mine and the viewer’s—can create stories from the parts that exist together in a piece.
What themes seem to occur/reoccur in your work?
I think my themes are familiar ones: the celebration of life, death, joy, sorrow— the earthly (sensual) and the sublime (the unknowns, life’s mysteries).
What do you enjoy working on the most?
I enjoy working on anything where drawing is involved: where I get the instant gratification of my hand! So when I’m drawing, which can be at the beach or in my studio, and include all media, oil or watercolor paint…I am enjoying my work.
Do you do any research prior to starting on a new piece?
The only research I ever really do is internet-based trolling for image information. ‘Research’ isn’t really a part of my process, other than needing to gather visual information or some factual knowledge that I wouldn’t have access to myself, like great wildlife photos and things like that.
Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?
This is a tough question! When I was about 8 years old I rode my bike to Fuch’s Park in South Miami where there was an art show (in those days we could do that by ourselves!). I remember seeing one artist whose work was all watercolors, done in mostly monochromatic sepia and black tones, silhouettes of pond or fishing themes…and I went home and tried to imitate one, to make a painting just like his. I still have it. That’s probably an inspired moment, right?
Name something you love and why.
I love watching birds, listening to them, and being outside—in nature. I find it all very soothing, maybe because it’s unpredictable and spontaneous, and for me that’s calming. There’s no noise—it’s quiet.
What's the best piece of advice you've been given?
‘If you accept what you have, you can do wonders with it.’ In other words, don’t try to be something or someone you’re not: accept your own unique talents, idiosyncrasies and ideas, and go from there.
What type of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have?
Well, I like my privacy, an organized workspace and my music, (I always listen to music while I work). So I guess my ritual is to go into my studio, close the door, choose music that suits my mood, and begin organizing my space, plans, and work for that day.
What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
While in college I valet parked cars at the Mutiny Hotel and then I waited tables at Monty’s (who didn’t?). As an [adult] artist I’ve: designed and taught college courses, high school and elementary school art; been a fine art reproduction painter (reproduced original expressionist/impressionist/futurist paintings from the original works in private collections); been a team building trainer/facilitator for corporate workshops through art; and been a fine art photographer, documenting collections and other artists’ work for publication.