An interview with Tabitha Swanson
Tell us a little bit about your background.
I’m originally from Canada, but have been based in Berlin for the last five years. My background is graphic design, fashion, and marketing, and after finishing my marketing degree, I co-ran a creative strategy agency with a former classmate.
When boiled down, my creative practice is primarily about learning and exploration. I find exploring quite stimulating in general; I’m very curious, and find it to be my main motivation in life! Art, design, and tech are fun from that perspective as they are always expanding and limitless. Also, with art and anything creative, there is no limit to how far you can explore within yourself.
The ever changing nature of tech particularly is such a playful space for curious creatives. How did you get started in the digital sphere of image making?
I grew up drawing and painting a lot. My nose was always in a book and I had a lot of exposure to different worlds and fantasy through that, though I didn’t really use the computer or internet much outside of my school until I was an adult. When I was applying for design school, I needed to submit about 7 different pieces and one of them included something in Photoshop. I had to learn how to use it to complete that piece and that was my first ever experience creating digitally.
You’re a designer, creative director, AR creator and more. Where are the parameters of your creative practice and how does being a digital creative allow you to work in a more multi disciplinary way?
I have my hands in a lot of pots and that’s the way I prefer it. After I moved to Berlin, I stopped working in marketing and really took some time to engage in self-discovery and seeing what I wanted to do/what was important to me.
I was freelancing for a couple years and then ended up taking a job at Zalando in UX/UI. I worked there for a little over a year, but quit in 2019 when I realized I was really in love with XR and 3D and world building and wanted to take on more jobs in that field. So I switched visas back to a freelancing visa and sort of dove in. I think keeping play in my life is extremely important and one of my main philosophies. I would like to one day make a film and write a book and I don’t yet know what those look like, but just that they are waiting for me.
We can't wait to see the film when it materialises! Where do you draw inspiration from and what are you trying to communicate with your work?
I’m really lucky to have the friends that I do and to be part of the artist community both in Berlin and online – the people there inspire me everyday.
I grew up reading quite a lot and I think that shaped me and my perspective. I also grew up in a very culturally diverse family and in addition to that, while I was exposed to many different religions through family members, I was raised quite Anglican and being constantly surrounded by traditions, ceremonies, and objects of reverence and meaning certainly shaped me.
What inspires me perhaps the most though is the unseen and the unknown and the faint brushes we make against IT. I’m trying to communicate this feeling. Every religion and culture in the world has created stories and narratives trying to explain IT in their own ways. I think it’s something we can all relate to, though it’s undefinable, so communicating IT is by way of that, very difficult. I can only communicate how I see and feel IT.
"I was [once] more concerned with things being perfect before I released them, but over the years, I think I’ve come to realise that we’re all going to die soon enough, so who cares, let’s just post what we want."
Your social media often shows work in progress, tests, and experimentations. Are you interested in the unpolished, rough side to digital art making, and if so, how does this feed into your work?
I do show a lot of tests and progress works. I think at a different point in my life, I was more concerned with things being perfect before I released them, but over the years, I think I’ve come to realise that we’re all going to die soon enough, so who cares, let’s just post what we want. Everything is a process, continually progressing, nothing is final.
Tell us more about the upcoming launch of your digital fashion collection?
I studied fashion marketing in school and I’ve always been interested in fashion and self-expression from an artistic perspective. I enjoy the psychology behind it as well. When I was younger, I used to have sketchbooks upon sketchbooks of my different fashion lines and it was my childhood dream to be a fashion designer.
It’s been years since then and while I’ve worked for fashion companies as a designer/creator, it feels like the right time to make a fashion line of my own. I feel ready and it feels full-circle.