Artist Interview: Tamia Saunders – Face Value, Or Creating Stories

May 18, 2023




Tamia Saunders is located at August House and is the current Female Studio exchange awardee. She is one of the featured artists in Open Studios Joburg 2023.


What sort of training have you received and how important do you think it is to seek training (in terms of learning first principles and refining technique)?

The training I’ve received was in high school, when I studied visual art. From then on, I’ve been self-taught. I think it is important to seek training because as much as you can teach yourself as an artist, there are certain practices and principles that can’t be self-taught. Exposure to more tools and art techniques enables an artist to be more versatile in their craft.


What is your principal medium, and why did you choose it?

My principle medium is acrylic paint. I chose it because I enjoy using it the most out of any other medium and it’s a more durable and flexible paint than most.


Describe the techniques you use most? How complicated are your methods, and why is each step necessary?

My techniques are not complicated at all. My methods usually consist of me coming up with an idea I would like to create and then drafting some sketches on how I would like the portrait to look – a woman or man, and what’s happening with their facial structure, colour, hair and so on, as well as sketching other things I’d like to add to the piece and then putting it all together and creating one artwork. Each step is necessary because I want to be very intentional with the work I create and feeling I want to evoke in the viewer.


Who is the single other artist whose style you most admire, and why?

I would say that I admire Frida Kahlo the most because all her works were heterogeneous. Her style wasn’t confined to a specific class. As much as her portraits were figurative, they were surrealist and realistic as well.


Galleries and other traditional means are only one way of marketing art. What do you believe are the most important other routes, and what is the most important insight you have gained in that area in your career?

I believe that the most important other routes would be to promote your art with a strong internet presence as well as by participating in art competitions and using your art portfolio. The most important insight I’ve gained in my career would be that all these non-traditional routes provide effective ways to gain exposure in the art world, especially for emerging artists. Networking is also important because it’s part of making your work relevant within the art community.


Why do you create? What are your stated goals in producing art?

Creating art has always been an outlet for me. It’s been a way for me to express certain thoughts and emotions as well as what I feel inspired by. I want to create portraits that evoke something in the viewer. My goal is for the viewer to look at my work and create a story that resonates with them.