We had the good fortune of connecting with Tate Meyer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tate, how do you define success?
I used to believe success meant getting an internship while in undergrad, moving somewhere new to work a 9-5, making art at all times, and somehow having the headspace for a healthy relationship with myself, and others. In the last two years, as the constant unpredictable nature of the world revealed itself, I learned I needed to reevaluate what I considered successful. I’ve learned that I feel most successful when I’m creating things that are genuine and real to me. This might sound obvious to some people, but when you’re constantly meeting deadlines, making art with other people’s ideas, and using mediums strictly to get work done the fastest, the simple concept of authenticity can disappear. The pandemic motivated me to try more mediums (out of boredom if we’re being real). Hands-on materials like clay, embroidery, felting, and collaging were exciting and new to me. I made art, and felt forgiving and kind towards myself, because I had no expectations. I felt excited to make mistakes for the first time in years. I was making art for me, and the way I began to feel about what I was doing with my career changed rapidly. The pride I started taking in my work radiated. Others were interested in what I was making, and it wasn’t because I ~hoped~ that they would be. They were interested because of how I carried my art, how proud I was of it, and how happy it made me. They cared, because of how much I started to. Relying on what feels right, trusting my gut, and using intuition to guide me with my art have made me feel more successful than ever. I genuinely believe things will always work out so long as I continue working, learning, and growing. Success used to be all about money to me, but now, success is about a feeling that I will never get enough of.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I love spreading positivity in my art, using lots of cute creatures with big eyes, asymmetrical features, and goofy smiles. I love primary colors, and pinks, and really anything that conveys happiness.
I do lots of everything, and I get bored easily so I switch between materials and mediums a lot. I think this might be confusing for some, since it doesn’t adhere to the stigma of consistency when it comes to artists + having a style, etc. However, I think if someone looked at something I stitched, something I painted, or something I built with clay, it would be clear that everything was made by me!
As far as my work ethic goes, I am never one to compete or compare myself to others. I did that for a very long time, and found that I was never making art that was “good enough” for me. Instead, I am constantly trying to do better than myself the day before. This has made me more focused, and intentional with everything that I create and do. I never try to be the best, but I always try to be MY best. This forgiveness with myself is why I am so comfortable trying new mediums, and putting my designs on new products. Sometimes these things work, and sometimes they just don’t, and both are necessary in my growth to becoming a better artist and person everyday. I think this kindness shows in the work I make, and makes people happy to see. I’m excited for all of my successes and failures, because both make me my best. I think my work reflects the kindness and forgiveness I try to give myself everyday, but also reflects the ambition and dedication I strive for with my art.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Most of the time I spend with friends is spent eating…..! Cuban Window Cafe on Abercorn, it’s connected to an El Cheapo gas station, they have the best service and food. It’s owned by a couple who moved here from Miami, and they remembered me and my boyfriend after the first time we went. They ask us how things are every time we go, and it’s small subtle kindness like that that truly makes a difference. The food comes out quick, it’s cheap, and it’s super delicious. Make sure you get a side of the mojo sauce with your empanadas.
I’ve also been spending so much time at Savannah’s Clay Spot since last summer. Lisa Bradley is the owner and she’s the sweetest lady I’ve ever met. I took a couple 6-week ceramic classes there and Lisa is so hands-on and helpful. Sometimes I would show up with a photo of something I saw online that I wanted to make, and she would show me exactly how and pull out books to give me some inspiration, or if she had seen something she thought I might like. She’s great to talk to, and she always remembers the last story you told her. She always asks me about my crazy family, or how my store is going. She’s a gem.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are a lot of people that have shown me what I’m capable of. The first one that comes to mind is my professor and mentor, Kurt Vargo. Kurt taught me one of the most important things about my art: If something feels “easy” (or natural) to you, there’s a reason, and you should investigate it. There were styles and ways I made art that never felt like “enough” because they didn’t include rendering for 14 hours, or skipping sleep. Through his advice I realized that time spent on art doesn’t necessarily represent how successful it is. I embraced what felt natural to me, and submerged myself in it.
I could truly write paragraphs about all of my undergrad professors who have individually been the greatest influence in regards to revealing my own potential. Shoutout to the SCAD Illustration faculty, Arden von Haager, and Megan Berkheiser. I can’t thank them all enough for how much they’ve helped me grow.
Photos by Bert Lemoine