TALENT FROM ATLANTA, Georgia’s TILA Studios turned heads at Art Basel 2018, but we can expect even more from Tiffany LaTrice this year. In 2016, LaTrice founded TILA Studios primarily to have a studio space of her own, but time has shown that much greater things were meant for TILA Studios. The studio’s mission is to empower black female artists to not only create, but also showcase their artwork. LaTrice and members of TILA Studios made major waves at the Miami Art Basel in December 2018, but we spoke with LaTrice a couple months after Art Basel to see what’s next for her and this growing studio.
Where were you right before you started your art studio and what made you want to open a studio?
I started it in 2016. I was taking an art entrepreneur course at an organization called C4 Atlanta, and the class was super eye opening to me. Primarily because I wanted to be more successful in learning how to be an artist and knowing the business behind art. I was selling my work digitally, but not in galleries or museums and I wanted to know what channel and avenue I wanted to take. So in just doing that class I realized there were other women especially women of color that had the same experiences as me in knowing not how to enter the industry, knowing the industry has a lot of glass ceilings so what can we create for us? And I knew I needed to find space outside of my home, because a lot of artists, a lot of female artists work inside their home.
Outside is a studio and studio costs are so high so I was like, ‘Okay well I know these glass ceilings, I personally need a studio space, other women probably need a studio space. It makes sense for us to have a studio space for us.’ So that’s how the idea came about. Just out my own personal need to do it.
Why did you choose Atlanta to open your studio here?
I think Atlanta is the next wave of creative energy and creative workforce. A lot of films and industries are coming here. There are more creative economy jobs like a lot of artists are freelance workers in Atlanta and the population is growing and doubling and tripling. So a lot of stuff is happening this year. It’s the largest population of African Americans and African American women and that is my target market.
What services are you providing for these artists?
We have three folds. Something that we do is we act as an agent on behalf of all members and secure opportunities based on their careers goals. We’re also providing a space and resources for artists to create. Within that membership model we have the opportunity to do our seasonal programs. So those are focused on career readiness and preparedness. So that deals with understanding the business of doing art. Lastly, we have our experiential gallery that allows artists to kind of innovate, and we help them sell their work. So those kinds of launching pads and opportunities that’s a full circle investment helps the artist until their fully capable of transforming into a full-time artist and creating a lifestyle off of their art.
Can you tell me about the opportunity you had this past December at Art Basel?
So this last December was kind of a strategic move. I just knew that my first experience in Miami at Art Basel in 2015 was transformative. The amount of accessibility I had to artists and gallery owners and the amount of conversations and connections that I built, just made me think how I always want to pay it forward. So I wanted to create this opportunity for my members. I think it’d be very beneficial for my members to see my vision for the studio and that is us expressing the international art industry, the global art market. So for them to understand the grandness of my vision I need to take them to one of the grandest art fairs and that was Art Basel. So I had this plan to do that and it just kind of morphed. The stars kind of started to align and I started this whole fundraising campaign and got the right team members in line and we were off to the races in a short time. It was a really cool thing to see come to life.
How would describe the atmosphere of TILA and the artists around you?
I think it’s very diverse, which I love about the studio. I would say anybody that ever comes into the space takes the space very seriously like they hold it very sacred to them and to me that speaks volumes because I think it just shows you how we don’t have space. You know, we don’t have community and we don’t have as much private space for us to explore and learn from each other. So members tell me all the time that they love TILA and they hold it sacred. We hold it very valuable and we keep the energy very positive. So when you come in there are these big glass windows and there’s a lot of natural light. It’s just a very collaborative, open space where we’ll probably have about 4 to 5 people every couple hour rotating throughout the space. Sometimes it can be loud, sometimes we’ll be singing but it’s very communal, very collaborative and very empowering.
Can you tell me more on why creating this sense of community is so important to you?
I think that at this time in political and social climate that we’re currently experiencing, I think we’re just all looking for safe spaces to go and feel loved and feel valued. I think physical space provides that. So I think it’s such a unique time to do that. Art is at the forefront of expressing and promoting change. Art is always the catalyst for social, economical and political change. So I think just being able to invest in such a resource in our community is critical. Just giving physical space for people to feel valued and feel loved is something that we all need and I think that sometimes we forget that we need it until we have it, and we’re like “man, I’ve always wanted this.” That’s a thing that always comes back. For me, when I have members that are 22 up to 50 that are like, “man, we didn’t know we needed you.” So that is so affirming to me that it is such a necessity.
You had a big year in 2018, what do you plan to do in the upcoming year to keep that momentum going and elevate things even further?
I think just more impact, more partnership, more strategic partnerships in 2019. Right now it’s really building a local community. Sometimes I think you get a lot of national press and you think, “Oh! I need to go this big!” And two I don’t think we’ve done everything that we needed to do in Atlanta or Georgia as a whole. My focus this year is to being more strategic in how I need to elevate and empower our Georgia based artists and I’m hoping to double my impact this year. We collectively served 126 women last year but I want to double that and just see how many more we can support. So that’s my immediate focus. My mission is to empower black women to showcase and create their art. I need to be doing that at a grander level or a higher impact.
Where do you see art evolving for female artists and where do you hope it goes?
I think that non-traditional and traditional routes are opportunity and access. So in the traditional route that’s really just disrupting the institution and the gallery structure and making sure that women are being represented and valued and exhibited. But I also see non-traditional routes like I think that black women and female artists are so creative that you know we can plan a partnership thinking of other ways to involve your portfolio beyond a traditional exhibition space. So like bringing partnerships or a pop-up shop or developing your own fashion line like where else can your art live? So I’m always trying to broaden an artists’ horizon to look beyond the traditional spaces to have a successful career.
What can we expect from the gallery in TILA this Spring/summer?
Our first exhibition that will be coming up is our Garden Fellows exhibition and those are the ten black women, Georgia-based artists, that we took to Miami for Art Basel so we’re going to be including a whole exhibition so that the city can embrace them, because this is all of their work from Miami so I think it’s time for it to be exhibited in their own city. So we’re working on that currently. That will be at the end of March and the beginning of April.