InstaBAM! - Tara Collette

InstaBAM! - Tara Collette

In our digital era, the necessary tools for expression can be stored within 64GB and fit neatly into a pocket, ready for use whenever inspiration strikes. Something new can appear in front of an audience in seconds when an Instagram or Tumblr feed is the public gallery of choice. While graphic designer Tara Collette embraces new digital possibilities, she does not believe them to be a necessary component of her own creative process.

“I think that there are thousands of benefits regarding the digital era, yet I personally feel some of the best work can be made without it,” the recent University of Salford graduate explains.

A new resident at Islington Mill, Collette’s approach is experimental in that she isn’t inclined to stick to one specific style: “I’m still trying different ways of working all the time - some days I will be making GIFs, others I’ll be making enormous fabric banners. I think it’s important for people to realise that you don’t have to have everything figured out as a design graduate. I used to worry about not having a certain ‘style’ but now I try and channel these thoughts into making new work.”

Her projects utilise both old and new methods of design. Large cuts of fabric sewn together and emblazoned with bold, colourful slogans – ‘FUCK THE GRADE’ – take on the look of historic trade union banners yet express the defiance of the modern artist. The physical handling and crafting of textiles brings Collette out of the digital space that many current graphic design trends occupy.

A recent project, however, saw Collette turn to digital to create an individual GIF each day for three months. Featuring everyday objects including bicycles, printers, and scratch cards, the ‘GIFADAY’ collection stems from Collette’s newfound passion for the format.

“I joined a workshop ran by Steve Hockett on ‘How to make a GIF’ in March 2017, which taught me the basics - document set up, frames, exporting etc. I didn’t want to graduate and stop making, so I started GIFADAY in April and continued this for 90 days,” she says of the project’s origins.

“Before starting the project I was influenced by the likes of Jessica Walsh and Timothy Goodman’s GIFs that they created for their project 40 Days of Dating. These two aside, I’ve never really looked into other “GIF makers” as such.”

The difference between art and design is a matter of communication for Collette: “I’d like to think that art has more of an emotional side to it, maybe with a message apparent or hidden within the work. Design, for me, seems like more of a critical judgement and decision-making type of thing and it’s used as a tool of communication, for me, it’s similar to art but maybe it has more of a purpose in terms of communication.”

This view of design as a method of critique also makes itself apparent within her work. Both the fabric banners and GIFs feature text that points towards critical self-expression – ‘not everyone will like your work,’ ‘IS THIS SHIT?’ These appear as refreshing admissions of creative doubt from a confident young designer who is firmly taking charge of their future output.

As technology continues to evolve and the digital world grows, methods of sharing and consumption change. Art and design are gradually becoming accessible for all rather than reserved for the privileged few. Culture is available to consume via even the most basic of internet connections. Close contact with the public and new methods of networking with fellow creatives therefore places the artist and designer in a unique conflict between self expression and self critique.

“When online, we constantly compare our work to the work of others, we browse Pinterest and Instagram looking at final pieces and more than often wish we could create similar really quickly,” Collette remarks.

“I think this in itself is impacting the role of designers, rather than focusing on our own practice and how we can improve our work, we waste time looking at how good other people are. As a result, it seems to me like designers are becoming impatient, we want to be really good, really quickly. On the other hand, I think the digital era is great in terms of being able to share work and get ourselves known on social media.”

Despite these vast possibilities for comparison and critique in the digital age, for Collette, the existence of design as a tool of communication is still a source of inspiration: “I feel that the people around me in everyday life influence me more than anything, speaking to other creatives in similar situations to myself, hearing their thoughts and opinions, comparing those to mine, all this has a heavy influence on my work.”

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