Meet: Tabitha Swanson
Tabitha Swanson’s illustrated graphics are captivating. The Berlin-based creative has a singular eye for comical lines, bold colour and collage, and tackles everything from body hair to Roman busts. She’s worked on a wide-range of projects with everyone from Mercedes Benz to Taylor Swift, doing everything from branding and planning events to web and set design. We caught up with the diligent designer and illustrator to talk latest projects, the allure of lentils, and studying everyday.
Tell us about your journey so far, how did you end up designing?
I grew up in a small town in central Canada of around 1,400 people. I was always kind of that weird art kid whose school books were absolutely covered in drawings. I ended up going to school for a long time and graduated programs for graphic design, fashion, and marketing.
I’ve worked professionally as a designer and marketer for at over five years and after school, I started my own marketing agency. It was a great experience and I learned a lot, but when I moved to Berlin, I decided I wanted to start making more art translated my own thoughts and feelings rather than working strictly on marketing and advertising-based projects.
What are you up to work-wise this week?
Doing some graphic design work for companies in Vancouver in LA as well as finishing up my very first set design for a talk show! Also working on my German… I’m studying everyday.
How's your work/life balance going?
Better than it’s ever been. I have a tendency to overexert myself. In my last years of school, I was a full-time student, working full-time, volunteering, running my own business, and still trying to have a social life – it was way too much! These days, I’m still productive, but really trying to put a great deal of focus on taking care of myself and enjoying those still moments of peace and silence.
Do you have a favourite album/artist you're listening to right now?
I’ve been listening to Steve Reich a lot… my boyfriend got me hooked.
What was the last lesson you learnt?
I think I push myself too hard and sometimes burn out. If I’m not doing something productive all the time, I beat myself up about it. I’ve been trying to make an effort to let myself have more down time and take care of myself better – it’s more productive in the long run, really.
Do you have any wisdom to pass on?
Honestly, this might sound cliché, but just keep doing it. Just keep pushing yourself to experiment, try new things, and be the best version of yourself you can be.
What drives you?
The fact that there are new things to learn out there and there always will be.
Do you have any current obsessions?
I’ve been making just heaps of lentils these days...
What are you reading?
My current read is Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari.
Who do you like to follow on Instagram?
What are you looking forward to in 2017?
Continuing to focus on myself and developing personally.
Best place you've travelled to this year?
Hard to say… maybe Budapest? I’m hoping to go to Estonia soon, which will be a treat.
Where do you like to hang out in Berlin?
Transit for food! Nathanja & Henrick and Mama Bar for drinks.
When was the last time you fucked up?
This is a regular thing for me: going to the grocery shop to get one thing and walk out with 10 things and none of them are the thing I initially went in for.
Who inspires you?
So, so many people in my life that I’ve been fortunate enough to meet and the hum of creative energy around me here in Berlin.
What would you like to read about in the next issue of Riposte?
I love the not-so-glamorous stories you folks are mixing in there about topics like domestic abuse – these kinds of articles make it accessible for people who may not search it out on their own, but could benefit from reading!
Check out more of Tabitha’s work on her website here.