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21st November 2018

The Creative Space: illustrator Tasha Wetton

Liv Clarke interviews UoM graduate Tasha Wetton about the illustrations she creates and how she balanced her degree with her creative interests
The Creative Space: illustrator Tasha Wetton
Photo: Tasha Wetton

A lot of students at university devote all their time to the subject they’re studying, squeeze in some socialising, and then the rest of the day is designated for Netflix. But its important to set aside time for the things that you enjoy, which is what Tasha Wetton did while at university, and still does as a graduate today.

Tasha graduated from her Speech and Language degree this summer and now works as a speech and language therapist in the NHS, helping children who have difficulty communicating. Despite being creative from a young age: “When I was about 3 my Mum says that one day I just sat down and started drawing the conservatory!” she decided to choose a career path that would enable her to help others. However, Tasha saw no reason to give up on her artwork: “It’s the one thing that’s been a constant my whole life, I love anything creative, it gives me such a buzz!”

Just a glance at her portfolio reveals how talented she is; her drawings are playful and imaginative, but still capture the essence of the subject. Tasha creates stylised portraits of figures from pop culture, in both ink and in digital mediums; she’s branched out into architectural drawings and inspirational quotes as well.

Photo: Tasha Wetton
Photo: Tasha Wetton

“My work is quite illustrative and detailed, and I often draw people as I find faces so interesting, but I also love to draw plants, animals, and buildings too,” Tasha explains. She tries to develop her style while keeping it consistent: “For a long time I just worked in black and white but recently I rediscovered colour and I love how it adds such a vibrancy and magic to my drawings.” What’s impressive is the professional quality of her work, even more surprising considering she does not study art.

An upside of continuing her illustrations at university was that she had something to turn to when her degree became too stressful: “At times balancing art and my degree was really easy as it was a great way to de-stress and being creative makes me feel so content and happy.” Tasha’s creative skills also came into use when she volunteered with The Closet (a clothing shop run by University of Manchester students in collaboration with Manchester Mind and Missguided). The Closet allowed her to share her work with others, alongside her own online store Bluboca, which she launched while at college. “I set it up on Redbubble, which I would highly recommend, it’s a great website…it was easy to balance it with uni work as I could just upload new designs whenever I wanted to.”

It was not always easy keeping up the illustrations and studying at the same time, as anyone with extra-curricular activities knows. “At times it was hard, especially when I had more work to do,” Tasha tells me, “in my final years of uni I just wanted to live and make memories, so art took a back seat.”

However, it was still important for her to fit in art when she could, as that balance helped her stay in a happy mindset, and ultimately made her time at university more enrichening. “Your degree is important of course, but it’s also so important to do the things you love, whether that be art, sport, cooking, music; make memories, meet new people and take all the opportunities that come your way,” Tasha smiles. “At uni you learn on your degree, but you also have all these chances to grow and learn in so many other ways too. I took every opportunity and did anything and everything that made me happy and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.”

Photo: Tasha Wetton
Photo: Tasha Wetton

Tasha continues to produce illustrations, even though she’s graduated, and finds sources of inspiration everywhere: “these days it’s not so much artists that inspire me. It’s a mixture of seeing things that inspire me, like photos on Instagram or amazing art exhibits, which then give me that urge to draw and create,” Tasha explains. “I also get inspired by seeing people who take the time to create, because that inspires me to keep on creating too and to always make time for it, no matter how crazy life gets.”

What advice does she have for students who want to maintain their creative interests? “Do it! I always thought I’d do something creative as a career, but life had other plans and I somehow ended up as a bachelor of science!” Tasha laughs. “So to hold onto my creative streak at uni, I made an Instagram account to give me motivation to create new art. I volunteered my art skills. I did illustrations for people. Started a radio show. I made presents and cards for people’s birthdays. These days, anything is possible! If you really love something, or you really want to give something new a try, you’ll always find time for it. Always!”

You can see more of Tasha’s work on her Instagram page @tashawettonart.

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