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Arts & Culture: Tai Newman

What are three adjectives to describe your style?

Classical, evocative, emotive.

Walk us through your creative process. Does it vary, if so, how?

This one is hard to pin down. An idea may hit me suddenly. Sometimes I’ll just immerse myself in researching the topic of interest for days. Sometimes I’ll just lay around, listening to music and daydreaming about it. Sometimes I’ll do a lot of rough sketches and journaling just to hash the idea out. Once I feel like I’ve finally refined it to the point of clarity, I’ll bring it to life.

How has your art evolved since you started?

I’ve been making art for as long as I can remember, so I think it’s evolved in every way imaginable. I’m self-taught, and art has always been a big part of my identity, but for years I was too intimidated to claim it as anything more than a hobby. I was just really experimental for a long time. I’d hone in on a niche every now and then and do ok with it but would eventually feel like it wasn’t really sustainable. It didn’t feel authentic to what I wanted to communicate about myself. I have worked with a variety of themes in acrylics, watercolors, oil pastels and now finally, oil paint. I’ve always been a great admirer of a lot of the 19th-century realist painters like John William Waterhouse or William-Adolph Bouguereau, but I just assumed aspiring to those greats was too lofty for me. Then one day I thought “Who cares, what does it hurt to try?” Since then, I’ve been focusing heavily on learning more of the traditional methods for drawing and oil painting.

What is your favorite creative tool, and why?

The internet. I can learn whatever I want. I have to be intentional with it though. Going down rabbit holes every now and then can be a great way to stumble upon some inspiration, but it’s also very easy to get distracted and unproductive.

What about being an artist fills your cup?

It’s just who I am. Much of life chips away at me. Not to say I don’t count my blessings or garner value from these other facets, but art is what I can do to mend myself and keep myself whole and sincere.

Why should others take interest in the arts?

I love the Nietzsche quote “We have art in order not to die of the truth.” Our world is evolving quickly. With globalization, it’s harder to be blind to the ugliness that exists. Art is a refuge. It’s the better parts of ourselves.

Any advice for new or struggling artists?

Keep working. Everyday. Try to learn something new everyday. Make something everyday. Push yourself out of your comfort zone. If you’re not satisfied with what you’re making, then make more art than anyone else you know. The more you dislike your art, the more art you need to be making. All artists make bad art. It’s inevitable. It’s just part of paying your dues as an artist. The sooner you get it over with, the sooner you can move on to making good art.

What upcoming project should we look for, and where can we look for it?

Being in the middle of a pandemic, there aren’t many events on the books right now. I am, however, cranking away at exploring a new theme that I’ve been keeping under wraps as it all comes together. I’ve been utilizing social media heavily to keep people up to speed with what I’m doing, So I would say give me a follow and stay tuned for what’s next.

What question do you never get asked that you would like to be asked? How would you answer?

What are you trying to communicate? I would answer – Myself. All of these deep complexities that make me what I am. That I myself don’t even fully understand or know how to articulate. But making art is my best effort to try. Every person is unfathomably complex and strange, and yet we all still somehow manage to be humans. Trying to connect. It’s unnerving and wonderful. I appreciate anyone’s effort to try to connect and communicate themselves authentically.