Meet Tara O' Brien. She is the watercolour-lovin' illo-girl talent behind the awesome body positive artwork that you'll find at Sparrow & the Fox
that I'm in big heart stuff with. I've just purched myself a Own Your Body pendant
, because even go-for-it girls, like my sweet-ass self, need a reminder, especially when that reminder comes in the form of a super-cute accessory, right?!
Describe yourself in a tweet...
I am a fierce fat femme
who loves to draw more than anything.....except maybe ice cream.
How and when did you discover your love for all things art-y?
I don't even know! Since before I can remember. I've always been the 'arty' one. I used to LIVE for art classes in school, where we had access to paints and pencils and all things I didn't have at home. I could get lost in art as a child and It just developed from there. I still lose myself when I'm drawing now. Its incredible.
Your work explores people of all shapes and sizes and is culturally diverse - why is it important to create work this way?
Well body positivity and self-love is a topic that is very important to me. I struggled for a long time with my own body image and in recent years I have come to love myself for who and what I am. I discovered things like fat acceptance and such on tumblr, and while it helped me, in time I found flaws within it as a 'movement'. It started to appear to me as something that was largely exclusive to white ciswomen whose bodies fell into a somewhat restricted size category. I came to the conclusion that such restrictions made that 'movement' the complete antithesis of what I was looking for. Body positivity includes everyone, regardless of size, colour, gender, etc. All bodies are good bodies, there are no wrong bodies. My illustration mostly takes from my experiences with people, and my life doesn't restrict itself to only featuring people of one body type, or one gender or race. So why should my artwork? At the moment, my work published online may seem to limit itself to women, but as more of my illustrations are uploaded, a more diverse range of gender identities will present itself within my work as a whole.
Can you tell us a bit about your creative process please?
I am at a point where my illustrations are rarely too pre-meditated. It is usually me just sitting down to draw as a way of relaxing. I grab some paper and some pencils and just start. Its only then really that an idea will come to me. Maybe i'll be reminded of some fabulous person or creature I recently encountered and they may become the focus of what I am working on. I guess I have a method to my drawing. I have a style that I usually work in and I am relatively comfortable in knowing how to achieve it. That isn't to say that my method takes me in the same direction every time. Sometimes I end up with something completely different and new but it pretty much always starts with pencil on paper. Then I'll finalize my lines with pen and then bust out the watercolours.
How do they go from ideas in your head to actual real life illo's o' awesome?
Well to be honest I rarely ever sit down to draw something in particular, I mean Its usually people I'm drawing but I'll just put the pen to paper and see what comes out. Usually what happens is I'll be subconsiously inspired by something that has happened to me that day and that will influence me. I'm rarely out and like "Oh I have to run home to draw this particular thing!' The ideas that come to me when I am drawing tend to be developed rather thoroughly through my process. I get very involved with the characters I create, often developing stories for them. It all happens while drawing though.
What tools do you use and love most?
I would be utterly lost without my watercolours. I always used to use acrylic paints until I found a set of very old watercolours my grandfather used to own, and I still use that set.
Who and what inspires you?
Oh everyone from Gustav Klimt to Ursala from the little mermaid. Lots of things and people really. A lot of my inspiration comes from empowered people I encounter both in real life and on the internet.
When and how did you realise that you could sell and share your talent with the world?
I was that girl in school that everyone asked to draw them pictures, when I was 13 or 14 I had wedding dresses and ballgowns designed for everyone in my class that I carried around in a huge folder everywhere I went. More reciantly it happened through social media. Seeing the response a drawing would get that I put up on my blog or facebook. That encouraged me to put more and more up eventually people started asking for commissions and prints so it has all gone from there.
What do you hope for your work when you sell a copy or when people see it on the internet or in a shop?
You know I would love to think that I could inspire someone. I have gotten feedback from a few people through my blog that they feel better about themselves because of a drawing or illustration I have done. And that means the world to me, I never thought I could have an influence over somebody like that, its fantastic.
You have an online shop, when did you set that up and why?
Thats a very recent thing, it's still only a baby! I had a shop on Etsy under my own name but I wanted to start something independent from that. Then Sparrow and the Fox was born.
What's next in the world of Tara?
Oh dear, who knows! I'll be continuing to push my drawings as far as they can go. Expanding Sparrow and the Fox to Jewelery and fashion pieces. A year from now I will have completed my degree in Graphic Design so I'll be focusing on making my work into a career. It's all very exciting and scary at the same time!
What does the term SASSY mean to you?
Sassy is a word that I am using more and more, it's just awesome. It is being awesome. Feeling awesome. No matter what kind of person you are, a little sassy-ness in your life can take you places. Its about fierceness, empowerment, being whatever the hell you need to be to feel good.
To find out more about Tara and her AHH-FRIKKIN'-MAZIN' work, head over to Sparrow & the fox