Women of Wednesday: Tiffany Gholar on Writing, Art, and Making Your Own Doors

WOMEN OF WEDNESDAY is a micro-interview series featuring women of color in various industries and walks of life, focused on highlighting their pursuits and making it easy for readers to support their endeavors. If you would like to be featured, please submit your answers to the below five questions here.

Tiffany Gholar, Artist, Writer, and Interior Designer; Chicago

1. Tell us about the work you’re doing and why it’s important.

I am an artist, interior designer, and writer. As an artist, I focus mainly on abstract painting. I like to create work with a lot of texture. My paintings are more like wall sculptures. I use recycled packaging materials like corrugated cardboard, foam sheets, and kraft paper to make textured surfaces to paint on. I call my style Post-Consumerism. My goal is to have a zero-waste studio practice, so even things like old tubes of paint and broken paintbrushes get incorporated into my artwork. I also try to use non-toxic materials as much as possible. It’s better for both my immediate environment and the planet. In addition to Post-Consumerism, my other two bodies of work are Recessionism, which was inspired by the recession and features canvases covered with shredded money, and The Doll Project, a series of digital photographs in which I used Barbie dolls to embody and critique the fashion, beauty, and diet industries and their impossible beauty standards.

I am still trying to get my interior design practice going. The housing market crashed right after I graduated so it was hard to find many clients and build up a substantial portfolio. Despite the challenges I’ve faced, I am still passionate about it and love attending interior design trade shows so I can immerse myself in it. I love finding out about new products and one of my favorite aspects of the design process is shopping for my clients. In fact, because I have found so many beautiful things while looking for other things, my interior design Pinterest board now has thousands of product photos on it. I really could look at furniture all day.

As for writing, I recently published a young adult novel about two Chicago teens in the early 90s who meet at a therapeutic boarding school. It’s called A Bitter Pill to Swallow and won a Chicago Writers Association’s 2016 Book of the Year Award. Before that, I published three books about my artwork. Because I published independently, I had a chance to design my own book covers and that led to illustration projects for other indie authors.

2. What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in pursuing the work that’s important to you?

The biggest challenge I’ve faced has been the lack of opportunities to do the kind of work that actually matters to me. Maybe it’s been the economy as a whole or just the job market or bad timing, but I had a very hard time finding work in my fields of interest. I had hoped that interior design would be a more practical choice but when I graduated, doors didn’t open no matter how many times I knocked. The main reason I decided to go back to school to study painting was that I felt like I had nothing left to lose. I learned a valuable lesson from constantly being rejected: to be independent and do it myself. Taking an entrepreneurial approach to my creative endeavors is the only way I get to do anything I care about.

3. What do you need in order to continue your work in the way you envision?

More customers, more clients, more gallery representation, and unrestricted grants.

4. Where and how can we support you to make #3 happen?

There are links to all my online stores on my website, www.tiffanygholar.com/shop. I’d be happy to take on an interior design project in the Chicago area or an illustration project anywhere because I can do that remotely, so anyone interested in that can email me from my website. And any social media shares would be greatly appreciated!

5. What is your favorite quote?

I have so many! It was hard choosing just one, but I think this applies:

“Doing what you love isn’t a privilege; it’s an obligation.”

— Barbara Sher