We had the good fortune of connecting with Tammy Tappan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tammy, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I consider the willingness to tolerate risk to be one of the most important factors in my life. Along with change, it has been a constant in my life. I was raised by fairly conservative parents, so when I announced that I was dropping out of art school to start a sign company at the age of 19, the response was one of concern. To me it seemed pretty logical though. It was creative and everyone needs a sign at some point. That business grew to nearly 50 employees over 28 years and risk became my middle name. Every time I committed to a new piece of equipment, the purchase of a building, or hiring staff, I had to weigh the risk financially, as well as strategically.
To date, I have been self-employed my entire life! This history became very important when I decided to pivot in my career and pursue art full time. I have learned that the willingness to stretch yourself and take risks is necessary to living life fully. I had always planned to be an artist but, it seemed like the biggest risk I had ever taken. The typical questions of “can you make a living?” and “is my work good enough?” bubbled to the surface. I finally decided to take the plunge in 2016. It was a measured decision and I applied many of the skills acquired from my previous business to my pursuit of being a full time artist. Well worth the risk…I love my life as an artist!
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
Looking back at my path to becoming an artist I recognize that I am fortunate to have acquired the “non-artsy” skills necessary to running a successful business first. As an entrepreneur for almost 30 years, I had to learn to market myself and my products, identify my customer and communicate clearly. Understanding cost of production and the value of our most important asset, time are also extremely valuable to a career as an artist.
Although my career always had a creative component, the transition to full time artist was daunting. It required a lot of soul searching and talking myself through the self-doubt. I remember my big commitment was securing a studio/gallery space in early 2017. I had budgeted for 4 months of rent and told myself, if I can sell enough to cover the rent, it would work itself out. For three weeks, I sold ZERO! I was freaking out. Then I had a gentleman walking in one day and tour the gallery. He said very little and walked out. I thought…this isn’t going to work. He came back the next day with another man (his interpreter) and bought 3 pieces of bronze sculpture. The crazy part of this story is the purchase was exactly 4 months of rent! From that day forward, I have had the confidence that I am exactly where I am supposed to be and doing what I was called to do.
One of my biggest challenges was actually figuring out who I was as an artist. When I started, I could draw, paint and sculpt but, I did not have a signature style that was clearly mine. I have spent several years in the studio and I can now say that when I look at my body of work, it is Tammy Tappan. I am really excited about participating in my first year with The Celebration of Fine Art Show in Scottsdale, AZ this winter.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
As an artist, I absolutely love the galleries in Old Town Scottsdale so I would start there. I have also enjoyed the Cave Creek area and it’s horsey vibe.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have several people that I would like to give a shout out to.
#1 my mom – Diana Bondeson. I will always remember her telling me “If it isn’t working, don’t be afraid to change it.” I have applied this wisdom to everything from my personal life to my artwork. Sometimes you just have to change directions and take a new path.
#2 my dad – Chuck Tappan. My dad has always been the voice of reason. He has taught me to breakdown a problem and weigh the risk before jumping. Then I jump anyway and he is there to pick me up. Best dad ever.
#3 my husband – Joel Fulmer. Pursuing a career as an artist is not a one person job. I have the best husband ever. He encourages me to go for it and helps me get there when I over committed…which is often!