Freethinker: Artist, Tabitha Hope

On being unconstrained in creativity

Explain what you do in a few sentences?
I am an artist based in Sydney, Australia. I fell in love with lettering over a decade ago and now I get to letter, draw, paint, design and make rugs for a living. I worried for a while that my offering was too broad and that I should narrow my focus but I have instead decided not to fight my curiosities and see where creativity takes me.

How do you work? Has that changed over time?
I moved to the USA in my early 20s and worked as a graphic designer and creative director. Moving home after the pandemic I really wanted to slow things down a little, spend less time on my computer and more time working with my hands. I am loving paint on my hands and wool fibres all over my clothes.

How would you define a “free thinker” ?
Free thinker's are curious, unbothered by convention. They don't wait for directions, they follow their intuition.

Would you use this term to describe yourself and if so, why?
I hope I always stay curious and I most certainly attempt to march to my own beat.

Textural art is a progression for you from painting. Did this feel like a risk for you?
I think looking back on it, it was more of a risk than I actually calculated at the time. I bought my first tufting gun during the 2021 Sydney locked down and fell in love. I Ioved the tactility and physicality of it. I quickly out grew my sunroom though and decided to back myself and get a studio in Paddington. It was an expense that didn't warrant the work at the time but I knew without the space to grow I wouldn't progress.

Describe your creative process when working on a project?
I feel quite trapped indoors when I am trying to come up with ideas. I need sun on my back and fresh air and time. I also tend to keep my ideas close to my chest until I feel like they are a little baked - from there I can share my thoughts and look for feedback. I've learned not to rush that process, my little Pisces soul needs a minute to dream and process and then all feedback is welcome.

Where do you find inspiration?
Cliche to be sure but it's everywhere. I love walking everywhere I go and find that as a great way to spark thought. I also love a gallery gift shop. I wish I could buy all the books at the Sydney Modern - alas I can't, so I just treat that gallery shop like an extension of my living room in the meantime.

What challenges you?

Mornings. My natural body clock was more suited to my NYC lifestyle than the Sydney one. Genuinely trying to fit in with the early birds in this city but it's not coming easily.

What role do you believe artists play in society?
We are all creators in our own way - some highlight what might go unseen, some bring emotion into spaces, others bring colour and joy. All are vital.

How does nature influence you?
As a Queenslander I am very motivated by the sun. A little reptilian I suppose. Nature's ever-changing colors, textures, and patterns are a constant source of inspiration

How does movement influence you?
I have always struggled to sit still. My left leg gets a real bounce going if I have been idle for too long. My ways to move are similar to my profession, varied... tennis, pilates, walking, running, bouldering and a little boxing. The pandemic gave me tennis and tufting. Born out of boredom and now obsessions.

What has been a pivotal moment for you in how you view the world and in turn your art?
I think this has been a slow burn of pushing the limits. When I made the choice to not return to full time work and instead carve out some space and time to see what was possible, it lit a fire. It's a fine line you have to walk when your art pays yours bills. Commoditizing it can suck the life out of it or push you to keep evolving - I am here for the later.

Do you have any favourite artists? If yes, who?
I struggle to narrow this list down but a constant for me has always been Hilma AF Klint. She's considered the pioneer of abstract art. The scale of her work is so impressive and her use of colour is perfection.

What motivates you to create?
The love of it. I count my lucky stars that everyday I get to make and create and some days even get my hands dirty.

Pop into our Mosman boutique to check our Tabitha's mural and shop our new collection - Free Thinkers.