February 13, 2012

Phoenix Fashion Artist- Tanina Jackson

On Friday morning, I had the honor to meet and interview local Fashion Artist, Tanina Jackson. We started our morning chat with some coffee, {well I did...she favors a Vanilla Bean Frapp} and then got right to it! 

As I walked into her condo-turned-studio I was greeted by Tanina, dozens of paintings on walls and easels, and another young lady sitting at a desk working on a computer. I soon learned that there are currently three businesses being run out of the studio: Kid Kandy custom bead necklaces, life coaching {the young lady at the desk is Masha Tikhonova a life coach!}, and Babe & Butter which is Tanina's artwork. 

Before I continue, let me tell you how this whole meeting came about.... A friend of mine shared one of Tanina's pieces on her Facebook page and I was immediately a fan. After a few clicks I ended up on the Babe & Butter website and knew I had to meet the person behind these paintings {not to mention I NEEDED to get my hands on one of her cosmetic bags}. I sent Tanina an email about setting up an interview and she was kind of enough to let me ask all the questions I wanted {my recording alone was 40 minutes!}. 

Okay so back to Tanina, she grew up in Mesa and attended ASU where she earned a degree in Communications. After she graduated she attended fashion design school in Dubai for a few months. With a degree in communications and some fashion design experience under her belt, I had to ask, "Why art?" She tells me that she started to learn how to paint when she was 13 from two artists in Mesa, Lloyd and Tom, "I was the youngest person in the class. I was 13 and most of the people in class were 60, 70, 80." When she graduated from ASU it hit her that she had to decide what she was going to do and she did, "I"m going to be an artist."

Painting comes naturally to Tanina, {the picture above is her first painting...} and she began to sell her paintings almost immediately. Though she is not quite as convinced of her natural talent as I am, "I have painted a lot, I have painted hundreds of pictures--I don't know what determines skill and talent." Her humble attitude toward her talent, skill, and artwork, make me an even bigger fan. 

Why Fashion and Art? ... Fashion Art

"I fell in love with art first and then when I got a little bit older I fell in love  with fashion. My early years of school [high school] I would get Elle and Vogue and read every single word from front to back. I had notebooks and notebooks of pictures cut out.  And I just fell in love with it. I think it's one of our greatest forms of expression."

Tanina's art is unique, there is no question about that, but she sees what she does as another form of fashion just with a different result--a painting instead of a garment. "I don’t look at it as very separate. Well when I studied fashion design and we would come up with inspiration boards, and kind of work out the colors for that season and do our sketching… I kind of looked at it as a very similar thing."

Eventually Tanina does want to combine her two passions by collaborating with a high-end designer on handbags--she doing the artwork and they {read: Dior} doing the bag designs. Until that day {which I am 100% convinced will come soon} she is enjoying her life, "My life is pretty dreamy," she says of her days, which start at 2 or 3 in the afternoon returning emails, doing some work on Facebook, blogging {read the Babe & Butter blog here}, and then painting for 4 to 7 hours in the evening, sometimes till 8 o'clock in the morning. "I just like painting at night. For me, that's my ideal schedule."

Defining Her Work:
Tanina's artwork is painted entirely from oil paints and she almost only paints on canvas. All of her work is from photographs--she gets a vision and then actually makes it happen in a photograph before painting it. As far as what she classifies her artwork as, she says she really doesn't try to classify it beyond "Fashion Art." 

Babe&Butter reflects the progress women have made. "Admirable women today explore their interests wholeheartedly. They don't dress to impress, they dress to express and in many ways self-expression allows women to be who they are not what they are suppose to be" -Tanina Jackson

Fave designer/brand? Dior “I love their colors and I think that they do some, they take a lot of risks in the stuff they put out.”

Favorite stores? Anthropologie, Urban, anywhere...“I really enjoy shopping. I think-- put me in a thrift store and I’ll have fun.”

Consider yourself a "blogger"? “Yeah I kind of, I wish I could blog more. I love having a blog, I think we are really lucky that we live in a society where we are able to express our ideas like that and share it with other people."

Why Babe & Butter? "The inspiration for the name of my studio actually came from a Lil Wayne song. I love hip hop and it is a huge influence influence on me.The song is a love song. The line goes 'I remember we would sit at home all day/you call me butter, I call you babe. I toyed around with Butter&Babe and Babe&Butter and decided to go with Babe&Butter.  No one expects that's where it came from, but it did, and I love it."

Greatest moment as an artist? When she found out she got the Kiosk {Tempe Market Place} & "I saw a bag at a club on a girl I didn’t know. That was special. It was a total different feeling I don’t even know how to describe it. Being recognized for my artwork from people I don’t know. When you make art it is revealing of your soul and to put it out and people like it... that’s awesome."

 To see and purchase her artwork, invite Tanina to paint live at an event, or just to tell her how awesome her work is please visit her at: 

Babe & Butter Website

P.S. Thank you Tanina for the cosmetic bag! LOVE IT~~ 


  1. So cool! I loved this post. Her art is awesome and edgy and that cosmetic bag is super rad.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this artist... paintings are amazing! Great Post!