Tabitha Swanson’s unearthly 3D designs are a triumph of texture and feeling

We find out how the Berlin-based creative’s experience with synesthesia has led to their distinctively fluffy characters.

Date
23 March 2022

For multi-disciplinary designer and creative technologist Tabitha Swanson, the process of “exploration” is their “main purpose in life”. Confidently delving into various mediums, from graphic sculpting, animation and VR, the Tabitha is always sure to add their own unique touch every step of the way. And, describing their creativity as “a never-ending journey”, the artist also explains how intertwined navigating their feelings and emotions is with their ever-changing practice. Alongside their avid journaling, “channelling feelings into my art is another way of expressing to myself what’s going on in my head and allowing me to analyse it”, they say. “For my personal work, I very rarely have a finished piece in mind when I start something, maybe vaguely, but for me, the process of creation is just as important as the finished piece, if not more.”

An element that has added to Tabitha’s work in brilliant and unusual ways is their experience with synesthesia. But, interestingly, whilst synesthesia usually results in letters and numbers having associated colours and feelings, for Tabitha “it slightly extends to auditory and kinetic”. This experience has pushed Tabitha to replicate these particular sensations, as they explain, “colours and textures feel a certain way to me and I need to allow them to express themselves as they need to”. Focusing on texture is one of the means by which Tabitha’s translates this synesthesia into their work, with their half alien half humanistic creatures all being covered in a furry, fuzzy layer of skin. Being so accurate in their depiction of texture, one of the strongest feelings you experience when viewing Tabitha’s creatures is an uncanny sensation of knowing exactly what they feel like…

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Tabitha Swanson: Round and round and down below (Copyright © Tabitha Swanson, 2021)

Born in Canada, Tabitha tells us that their means of inspiration has always been endless. Growing up with “my nose in a book for most of my pre-adult life and a love of film”, the designer offers us an endless list of influences, “my friends, the creative scene online, nature, food, learning about different cultures and religions, history, old art, the ocean, empty spaces, nothingness, understanding the fears of myself and others, and more”. This ability to seek inspiration anywhere, they explain, is “so often about state of mind and perspective”, more than anything else.

After completing various programmes throughout university, such as graphic design and fashion marketing, Tabitha finished with a marketing degree. Going on to co-found a boutique marketing agency which ran for two years before closing in 2016, Tabitha then moved to Berlin, which offered a welcome new step. Excited to use their creativity for themselves as opposed to a “corporate purpose”, Tabitha started creating one piece every day, “even if it wasn't something I was proud of, just so I could get into the habit of accessing that creative energy”. It was then in late 2018, after quitting a full time UX/UI design job at Zalando, that Tabitha entered the freelance world. And, since then, the designer has created projects for numerous big names, including Nike, Adidas, Highsnobiety, Reebok, Vogue Germany and more.

Always looking for ways to innovate and expand their design repertoire, last year Tabitha started their digital fashion line All The Hidden Things. With the software allowing for elaborate designs, but Tabitha’s clear eye tapping into current high-fashion trends, the fluffy shoes, molten fabrics and characteristically fuzzy woollen garments clothed on glass mannequins all come together to look like a high-tech fashion show from the near-future. And, taking the project even further, a priority for Tabitha this coming year is to develop the fashion line into AR to allow for people to try on outfits in the collection. We can’t wait to see how it turns out!

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Tabitha Swanson: Reality is an Obstacle (Copyright © Tabitha Swanson, 2021)

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Tabitha Swanson: Spontaneous Human Combustion (Copyright © Tabitha Swanson, 2021)

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Tabitha Swanson: Honey the duality of everything (Copyright © Tabitha Swanson, 2021)

GalleryTabitha Swanson: Tarot Series – Lust XI (Copyright © Laura Schaeffer, Tabitha Swanson, 2021)

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Tabitha Swanson: Standing on a Patch of Dead Grass (Copyright © Tabitha Swanson, 2021)

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Tabitha Swanson: Snakeskin Shoe (Copyright © Tabitha Swanson, 2021)

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Tabitha Swanson: Things no mortal ought ever to know (Copyright © Tabitha Swanson, 2021)

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Tabitha Swanson: Only by acknowledging death may one truly live (Copyright © Tabitha Swanson, 2021)

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About the Author

Olivia Hingley

Olivia joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in illustration, photography, ceramic design and platforming creativity from the north of England.

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