Soft-spoken and exquisitely beautiful Tiffani Taylor is thrilled that her eponymous gallery turns 11 this weekend.
Located in the heart of a historic district often known for its rapid turnover, and on the heels of a two-year global pandemic, this is quite an accomplishment. But not surprising. Taylor’s gentle nature belies what she calls “the fire in my belly” – the drive and ambition to show off and achieve success as an artist.
“I was six years old in Ogden, Utah, when I told my grandparents and my mother that I was going to grow up, become an artist and live in France,” Taylor tells me. From an early age, she immersed herself in art and art history, applying for scholarships and participating in competitions.
“I think as artists we need omens and affirmations along our journey, and I got some even in middle school and high school from teachers, family, friends. friends and judges. I was the youngest person to win first place in the Western Art Guild competition. When I was 16, I saw a poster for SCAD at my school and knew I would attend. She later received the SCAD Presidential, Portfolio, and Academic Fellowships and came to Savannah in 1988.
Reflecting on her journey, she says, “Twenty years ago I graduated from the class of SCAD, had just bought my first car, started my LLC and a year later I was able to buy my first house. Most local art lovers know the story of how Andre Leon Talley, (recently deceased, but at the time editor of Vogue and administrator on the board of SCAD) heard his major speech promotion, came to his show that night, and then offered his art to Oprah and Diane von Furstenberg.
What many don’t know, however, is that prior to this success, “I lived on $2 a day as a college student and held many jobs throughout college.” Taylor continues, “One of my first jobs was at Midnight Star Pottery. I painted a Mother’s Day gift for my mother and the owner invited me to paint all the display pottery for the window. So when I was working there, I would pull out my portfolio of murals that I had painted the previous summer when I was 17 and have little business cards printed. I have painted murals, pottery, watercolors and mixed media, never turning down an opportunity or a commission. And that’s how I got my first clients and built my business from there.
Now the holder of a master’s degree in painting and a master’s degree in art history from her alma mater, Taylor is heavily involved in encouraging fellow alumni. “I was a pioneer of President Wallace’s SCAD Alumni Atelier scholarship program in 2015, where I had a gallery in France for the summer. I’m incredibly grateful. How many universities reach out to their alumni, offering honoraria, art supplies, travel, accommodation and space in France to share your work with the world? »
For Taylor, this opportunity led famous fashion designer Pierre Cardin to become a patron and the director of the prestigious ICART art school in Paris asked him to teach a course on art and marketing.
Today, faithful to the goals she set for herself at the age of six, Taylor divides her time between France, Savannah and Wyoming where her family lives. At one point, she tells me, she had an apartment in France but gave it up to come back to SCAD to get an MFA because “I knew I wanted to be a teacher.” She believes that teaching is her ultimate calling and aspires to teach “the craft of art”.
“As an artist, having business skills is as important as spending time in your studio,” Taylor says. “I love teaching students of all demographics and ages the pieces they need to put together to create that patchwork quilt that makes up a great business…How to create streams of income with your art…Know the Law on the copyright of 1976… Knowing that you can license an image and create products… I want every artist to know these things.
She says it all, surrounded not only by her stunning paintings and pottery pieces, but also by a range of “Lifestyle Collection” items such as phone cases, pillows, cutting boards, ornaments, puzzles and more – all created with his copyrighted images of poppies, the marsh, birds and the flower markets of Paris. (I admit I bought a baby onesie and hat painted with her signature poppies.)
“As someone known for his poppies, I think it’s important to note that I’m not the first to paint them!” she tells me. “My inspiration is the fire of childhood in my belly to achieve my goal. I have also experienced them in Italy and France of course, but my favorite poppies will always be those in my memory.
Taylor is also known for incorporating sheet music and poetry and stream-of-consciousness affirmations into her soft-hued feminine paintings that are often accented with flecks of gold leaf. As a child and teenager, her grandmother and sisters sang at county fairs, and Taylor grew up listening to her sing and her mother play the piano.
“My use of music stems from a dream I had in college when I was homesick,” she says. “I dreamed of my grandmother playing the piano and I was in the Wyoming landscape where we camped every summer. The music filtered through the aspens. I’ve been keeping a journal since I was in 5th grade and I could also see my journals leaking. This dream has guided my work since my first term at SCAD.
Despite her early financial struggles, Taylor says she never felt “less than.” Even in college, “I just wanted everyone to have the same incredible sense of accomplishment that I felt. As a junior, I had a vision to help others. I was walking down Drayton Street thinking how grateful I was for the Presidential Scholarship and thought, ‘One day I’m going to have a fund to help other artists so they can feel this joy.’
Today, true to his vision, recipients of the annual Tiffani Taylor Endowed Painting Scholarship receive nearly $2,000 in art supplies for their senior showcase.
But back to the party! Taylor hopes the community will join her this Saturday, June 11 for champagne and macaroons to mark her gallery’s 11th anniversary. Located on Whitaker Street, it’s a beautiful space filled with light and joy that also features prints by Tamara Garvey and Morgan Adler, as well as original works by her good friends Sally Mayer Seidel and Melissa Schneider.
“I have a home studio where I paint, but originally I painted at the gallery. The inspiration came from the small galleries I visited in Florence, Italy, and seeing the painters in their smocks. And that inspiration was associated with the Rothko Chapel, one of my favorite sacred spaces. I hope we will invoke that same spirit. ”
The Tiffani Taylor Gallery, 11 Whitaker Street, Savannah, celebrates its 11th year on Saturday, June 11 with a champagne and macaroon celebration between 5 and 6 p.m. See Taylor’s work at TiffaniTaylor.com or on Instagram @tiffanitaylorsav