Artist and Illustrator
Can you explain a little about yourself?
Hi, my name is Tasha.
I’m a creative living and working in Bristol, this is my studio where I do my current project, which is potheads. So, potheads are handmade, ceramic pots that have a plant for a hairstyle, which is fun, and I mostly run workshops where people come and they make their own, which I really enjoy. I kind of have a background in working in arts and wellbeing, I worked for the NHS mental health trust for about a year, where I was running an arts project in the community. Yeah, I’m passionate about using art to bring people together, to aid wellbeing, to aid mental health, yeah, I just think arts a powerful tool for people and the community.
I’m curious, did you work together with mental health professionals?
Yeah, so I was like, kind of a liaison between a creative charity called creativity works and the NHS mental health partnership. So I’d work, like in the hospital on the acute mental health ward, doing like art groups there and getting people engaged and kind of feeling comfortable enough with me to then come and do groups for when they are back at home, like to engage with the community, using art and creativity as their focus, which I think is so powerful as a tool to engage
How has living in Bristol influenced your practice?
Loads! Bristol is such a great creative city. Yeah, I don’t think any of this would have started if I hadn’t been in Bristol. Just like the kind of creative energy that is all around, all the creative people that I’m around like people that I went to uni with as well. Like a lot of people that I studied with are still here and they’re doing lots of amazing creative things from like Femi, he owns this studio he has like a sign making company. My friend Haz, she does graffiti, Grace is running lots of workshops for young people, there’s lots I think of inspiring people in the city. Yeah, it’s just a great colourful city, a good city to be creative in.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Probably from like I was saying, people around me, yeah, just sort of like, by just sort of going with the flow and letting things happen. I think yeah, it’s really, really inspired by people around me, by being surrounded by like street art all the time I do a lot of graffiti myself and I think I wouldn’t have gotten into it if I hadn’t been inspired by just walking passed it every day. I take a lot of inspiration from nature as you can see, I’m a bit obsessed with plants.
When you were young, what career did you imagine doing?
I actually thought I was going to be a vet when I was really young. I really liked animals and I think I realized like how gory It was like how much studying was involved like science. So then I’ve always, always been creative like it’s really cheesy isn’t it but it’s like I can always remember drawing like as a child and just being like having my head into some kind of creative process, and I’m still like that now, I kind of jump around between different processes and when I really get into it I get really really into it.
What’s special to you about Bristol?
Yeah, Kind of the same all the graffiti everywhere, the people I’ve seen it is a really really friendly city like compared to that, like I’ve lived in…. I’m lucky because I’m from Brighton which is another very creative city and in the UK like Bristol and Brighton are the best and the most warm and welcoming. But I think there’s that feeling of I’m Bristol a lot, like I lived in London for a few years and Yeah, like, I never really felt as integrated because people don’t really talk to each other, like on the street Bristol just feels very open and welcoming.
What is the part of your job that outsiders wouldn’t think is a apart of your job?
I guess like. obviously, I love, I get to make lots of pots and run workshops which is lots of fun, but I also have to. Like, that’s kind of like the tip of the iceberg, the fun bit, but then underneath all of that that’s making that happen it’s like me. Obviously, it’s all just me so I have to do all my marketing and branding, like, think about like doing all my accounts, like all of that stuff it’s all just me and for some reason as well like when I talk about potheads like
on social media, I say ‘we’, and was like we’re doing this and we’re doing that but actually it’s just me. So, every single little thing there’s also things that you just don’t think about that you have to do, yeah and a lot of it is kind of boring, like doing your accounts is not that fun.
What is the most fun thing about being freelance?
Yeah, just having the freedom to do what I want to do and decide when I want to do stuff but if I’ve got an idea, oh, I want to do a workshop in a pub, like just do it, I don’t have to ask someone if that’s a good idea or not. Yeah, that freedom to have an idea and make it happen there’s no one standing in your way of doing that, which is great.
What was the idea around your Potheads project?
Okay, so I think it started, so before I was working for the NHS, I was working for Brandon Trust, so they support people with learning disabilities, and I was working in a pottery studio that they have. Which is kind of like a day centre, so people come, and they are there for the day, we like do activities with them. So, I didn’t do any pottery when I was working there. I just did, I was running two groups like an art group, but obviously I’d like got involved in a lot of the pottery that was going on and used clay quite a lot in the groups that I was running, and then I think I came up with the idea of making..cus the process of making a pothead is very simple and that’s what’s so great about it, it’s like pottery is so accessible so it should be accessible to everyone. So that’s where that idea came from. But then it didn’t really work so well with the group that I was running at the time, but I just carried on making them because I was like, I just really like making pots! So, I just kept making them. And then, yeah, a few people showed interest and wanted to buy some. And then, my friend. Grace. She encouraged me to run a workshop with the group that she was running, and it just went on from there, which is a good thing, so I just kind of carried on.
Who are your role models?
Like I was saying before, like all my friends who have all done amazingly since, like especially since uni. Yeah, its quite a long time ago now, I sit and look at what people are doing now and I’m like wow that’s really amazing and aspire to be like them, yeah like my friends.
How important is networking to your career?
I really really hate the term networking. I find the idea of formally networking really hard like it just makes me feel really anxious, I don’t really go to networking events but having said that I do think that networking is really important, it happens everywhere, like there has been lots of little things that have happened that have made potheads the thing for me, like knowing Grace and her encouraging me to like doing it as a workshop, knowing Femi and like himencouraging me to come and get studio here and all the people I’ve met through being at this studio, just even when you’re just chatting to people in the pub you never know who you’re talking to, and like, you know, they sort of benefit what your doing and vice versa. I’ve done some workshops with people who I’ve just literally met. Like I brought a sofa off of someone that it was like, I’ve done some people hate life just like that literally bad like, I think I saw someone and I was talking to her and she was like actually now that’s something that we would actually like to do with my work, so like she ended up doing a couple of workshops for her work party shop like, so networking is really important in creative industries.
How do you come up with new ideas and what they do when you get stuck?
I seem to go through phases where I’ve just got like all the Ideas and I’ve started writing them down because, like, they just disappear otherwise. So, I probably got like this notebook that’s just full of crazy ideas that I’m never actually going to do. But I think the key is to just, if you’ve got an idea like just start doing it like no matter how small that feels like if you start doing it then your going to start to get a feel for like if its going to work, rather than it just being just like a pipe dream that might happen. If I get stuck, I find like going walking and nature, like I walk my dog every day, but like going out and just getting completely away from the city, that kind of really helps me to kind of like reset. I think if I don’t do that regularly then I do kind of start to get a bit, a bit bogged down and bit stuck, so I think that’s important for like ideas and just wellbeing.
Interview conducted by Maria, Laura and Anna
Tasha Bee is a community artist based in Bristol, UK. With a background in graphic design and illustration, Tasha works across many mediums and enjoys using art and creativity to empower herself and others.
In her own practice, she enjoys getting messy with hands-on processes and developing new skills. Current favourites are ceramics, graffiti art and printmaking.
Tasha works with a variety of groups to deliver creative workshops. Her focus is to nurture a safe and supportive space for individuals to embrace creativity and to uncover hidden talents, connect with others and improve wellbeing.