Q: What inspires your work?
A: Life and its events around me inspire what I design, even the feeling of something. I’m inspired by moments in history and music, other artists and mediums. I draw my designs. I write short poems, stories, and songs. I even record music sometimes. I used to be a stylist, and I like to dabble but I want to cultivate this. I want to cultivate the making of leather goods and eventually get into making custom shoes. My father and mother were artisans, master tailors, but they had many other talents. My father could draw and was a sculptor. But I want to take this one thing that I like to do and hone that.
Q: How do you balance art and parenting?
A. My parenting isn’t separate from my artistry. My son and how he responds to life’s events inspire me to create. As he has grown older, I’ve watched him develop his own look and style. It’s interesting because it’s his own, separate from me. I thought he loved cute T-shirts, and then one day when he was 9, he asked, “Can we please stop shopping at Children’s Place?” Ha! I didn’t want him to have his pants hanging down his butt, and I told him so. There was this long period where he was trying on different things and wearing different looks. I would try to influence him, but I would have to step back and let him do his thing. So watching him and listening to his stories about his junior-high friends and life totally inspires me.
Q: What are your struggles?
A: Dealing with reality itself. Connecting and balancing the everyday things of life and everything that a human being has to do to succeed. Now that I’m 41, I see the benefit of balance. I'm learning why it’s important to connect to the real world and accepting that you have to balance living as an artist. That’s why there is no struggle when I talk about my art. I completely understand why I do it. That’s my Dr. Seuss brain. I think a lot of artists struggle with how to connect and make a business with your art. Creating the Etsy store is the beginning, and making this pursuit [is] my main reality, connecting to the needs of the real world with my art. In the last few years, I’ve taken that on, and it’s been an interesting voyage. Painful. Taking that on is the only way I will succeed as an artist. I have to translate my entire self in order to do that. It’s like learning a new language. I struggle with never wanting to compromise my art. I struggle with being understood without compromising myself, but that’s the part of translating that artists have to do to connect with people. Connecting and translating. It’s a struggle, but that’s part of something that I’m doing now without apologies.
Tanisha Christie is an interdisciplinary performing artist and filmmaker. After years of working at the nexus of arts, media, social justice, and healing, she is currently finishing her master of social work (clinical specialization) at Hunter College in New York City. A child of a Solo Mom, she loves to ride her bike to the beach.
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