Interview with Tashera Jean

I first met Tashera on Facebook. Her art was stunningly different from the other robot products that this robot focused group had been sharing so far and I was taken by surprise. So I reached out to see if she would do this interview with me on our blog. Needless to say, she was incredibly eager to participate and I’m thrilled to be sharing our conversation, and also some images of her original artwork here.

Steampunk and Robots and Jewelry- Oh My!

So I guess the best question I could ask to get things started is, when did you first start crafting? I noticed that your Etsy Page says you’ve been on there since 2008.

I first started crafting when I was five with my grandmother. We would make Christmas ornaments together for her holiday shows and I would get to keep half of the money. But professionally, I started selling my work in 2008 on Etsy.

That’s sweet. So this has come to you pretty naturally then? Did you always sort of feel like this was your calling?

Not at all! I mean, I have always enjoyed crafting but I went to school, and got both of my degrees, in Psychology.

From Psychologist to full time artist? So what would you say changed to help you make such a leap?

I guess life kind of changed the path I was on. I got sick in 2008 and my doctor suggested I find a hobby to help me deal with things. So I started crafting again.

At first it was just a stress reliever but if I’m being honest, I was also in need of money to support my family.

Through some advertisement I don’t recall, I heard about a place called Etsy. So I made a pair of shrink plastic owl earrings, photographed them with my little Kodak point and shoot camera on the back porch, and put them online. Sure enough they sold and from that point I was hooked!

Well, that is a fascinating origin story. It’s so cool how one point in your life can flip like a switch and we find ourselves taking new paths we never thought possible before.

Yeah, life is a crazy ride – that’s for sure.

A great deal of your artwork could take the IMAGINATION for a ride. I’ve been scrolling through your gallery for days and I noticed that Robots and steampunk seems to be the focus in much of it. Has Steampunk and Robot Science fiction always been of interest to you or did it come to you after you decided to be an artist?

I have been fascinated by robots for as long as I can recall! My Grandpa and I would always watch those delightfully cheesy 1950’s science fiction movies.

Regarding the steampunk, I actually discovered that by accident. I was given a jewelry box (that belonged to my late Grandma) which was filled with a few broken watches and other odds and ends and decided to dismantle the watches to see if there were any usable parts inside I could use to alter my shrink plastic jewelry! Once I had the watches dismantled, and had dismantled a bunch of other costume jewelry, I started fiddling with things just to see what I could make.

Well, I came up with an owl necklace! So once again, I put her on Etsy for $96.00 (because that was the cost of my electricity bill) and she sold within an hour!

It was only then that I discovered how big this ‘steampunk thing’ was.

Amazing! And this sort of brings me to my next question. I’ve only seen SOME of your robot sculptures on Etsy, but there aren’t many currently available. Would you say they sell out quickly?

I do several art shows a year so between the shows, private sales via Facebook, repeat customers, and Etsy- they thankfully do sell out rather quickly.

One of my favorite pieces of yours was the Robot being assembled by little people, very Gulliver’s Travels esque with a hint of Iron Giant. Does pop culture and/or Science Fiction in general have any influence in your art?

Both fantastic movies! Science fiction has a major influence on my work. I love mid century mindset of how the future was envisioned complete with flying cars and robot housemaids courtesy of the Jetsons!

Regarding pop culture, I don’t know that it directly has an influence on my work, at least not consciously, but irony sure does.

I love all things kitsch- the more absurd the better! Like a robot fishing for humans. Or animals wearing human clothing (which I do a lot in my steampunk animal jewelry collection).

I completely understand. Much like I appreciate artwork from people such as Eric Joyner who blends realism with absurdity– So, if you could answer this question- Out of all of your robot centered pieces, which was your absolute favorite to create and why?

Hmm, out of every robot piece ever… that’s so many! I would say it’s this guy I named Oliver. I don’t know why he holds such a special place in my heart. He wasn’t the first robot I made or anything. He doesn’t have a function like a lot of robots I make that are lamps or clocks. But he is the only robot I have ever kept for myself (incidentally I don’t keep any of my own art, jewelry, or other creations either). I like his face I guess. He looks kind. Weird, right?!

Weird is another word for wonderful. I think that’s a wonderful thing to hold onto, a piece of your history and it shows how far you’ve come. Oliver the kind little robot, could be your mascot. Who knows. – Speaking of who knows what might happen…

What do you think is in your near future? and where would you like to take this wonderfully unique business of yours? I know you’ve done shows and conventions, do you think perhaps one day you’d set up a real life art gallery?

In an ideal world, I would be able to sit in my 10 x 10 foot laundry room and just create things. I wouldn’t have to worry about photographing items, advertising on social media, or listing stuff to sell online. I would just be able to craft and have someone else do the rest.

I am not a business woman, nor do I want to be. But I fear until I can create my own little robot army of helper bots, I am destined to do those things. I learned a long time ago, that planning for the future is nice, but anything can happen. In an instant, your life can drastically change.

This realization taught me to just live in the present. To enjoy the beauty of every day life. To be thankful for all that I have in the here and now. I guess it’s a really good thing for me I have a man who loves me and that is much more structured and future-oriented!

That is a wonderful philosophy to live by.

Well, we appreciate that even though you must break out of your comfort zone to do so, that you continue to share your gifts with us all.

Thank you for giving Planet Robot this bit of insight into your artistic world, there’s still much we’re looking forward to seeing from you.

Thank you so much for wanting to learn more about me and my work Blitz. I get beyond thrilled when people connect with my artwork and by extension, me.

If you’d like to purchase any of Tashera’s art, here is a LINK to her Etsy Shop. Thanks for reading.

Keep clanking on, Fellow Robo Enthusiasts!

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