Artist Of The Week: Anastasia Tasou
These days, when you have 92K Instagram followers you know you've got to be doing something right. Step forward artist Anastasia Tasou. Her doodles deal with the struggle of those niggling everyday thoughts and pressures, as well as focussing on positivity and being comfortable with yourself. With two books and an online store full of t-shirts, prints and stickers, we wanted to hear from the lady herself...
For those who don't know, can you tell us a bit about who you are and the work you do?
Hello! My name is Anastasia and I draw and write how I feel. I create merchandise from my drawings and have an online store. I love my job, I love drawing and I love feelings.
What inspires you and the pieces you create?
My thoughts, memories and experiences inspire what I do. I feel things and think things, and those thoughts flow from brain to my hand to the page. I like to keep things simple and creating is like a therapy for me.
Your style of text is instantly recognisable. Is it something that comes naturally, or have you developed its look over time?
The writing you see is how I write when I write in capital letters, totally natural and not anything I've tried to develop, which is also why I often keep in scribbled out words and mistakes. It helps me be honest with myself and with my thoughts. Writing has strangely been a big part of my life, maybe not always positive though. When I was learning to handwrite things *nicely* at school, I got my pen confiscated and was given a pencil to use instead because my writing was so messy. Later on I always struggled to read my own essays back because my regular lowercase handwriting was so untidy, but since I was about 17 I've used my own writing in art (whether that be at college or just for myself) because it works for me to express myself, and now using capital letters I feel as though I'm giving the words from my head a lot of importance, like I'm detoxing them from my brain and onto the paper.
You have an Instagram page dedicated to people who get your work tattooed on them. That's pretty nuts! Why do you think so many people resonate with what you do in such a way?
Thank you so much! I am so honoured to have my words and drawings on those lovely people for life, it's so flattering. I'm not totally sure why people connect with my work, but I think there's some kind of longing within most of us to be understood, or to relate, or to not feel so alone (especially when the world is in such an intense time.) It's comforting when people relate because, then I don't feel so alone in the things I feel. It's pretty scary putting your deepest thoughts online and being so emotionally vulnerable within my work, but it's also empowering and I'm grateful for every person who connects with what I do in some way.
Can you tell us about your new book, You'll Be Okay?
My new book is basically a part two to my first solo book project, Better Every Day. It also works entirely on its own, so you can enjoy each book separately or together. In my first book, I wanted to create pages that would help people on bad days, so the idea is you can flick through to any page and have something to help you calm down, or to interact with, and with the second book I hoped to carry on this concept. I call it 'realistic positivity' because there's so many mindfulness/positivity type books available, but a lot of them aren't really accessible or relevant to a regular person's everyday life. It sucks to be told to just be more present when you're feeling really depressed, so I wanted to make something for those people who don't find it easy to relate to many other books on the same kind of subject. I also think it's so important to remind people that they aren't alone, and I hope that both of my books can be there for people who need some comfort on dark days, when no one else is around to offer support.
You speak openly about self care, mental illness and positivity. Is this something you have experiences in, and do you think they're topics that need awareness raising?
I don't like to focus too much on particular names or diagnosis for myself online or anything like that, but I do find it important to let other people know that I totally get it, I get those hard days, I've been there and am often right in the middle of it, and I don't ever wish to paint everything as perfect when it really isn't. It's great to get discussions going and start talking about how we feel (if we feel comfortable doing so) but I also think, for me at least, it's important to use social media for some good. I like making drawings that are real to me, and sometimes that means they're super depressing and dark, but other times a bit motivational. I hope by talking about these subjects and creating work about my own emotions and difficult times, that I can keep the conversation going and let people know that it's fine to feel down and they don't have to feel guilty for not always being the 100% positive guru that we are so often shown online to be the ideal state of mind.
You have a huge social media following. What do you think of the impact Instagram has on artists today?
I think that Instagram is great for discovering new artists, I especially love scrolling through the explore bit and seeing really inspiring work. I also love to be able to watch what my friends are liking because it's great to know what people I look up to are into too. Sometimes it makes me a little sad though, as some individuals are making brilliant work but don't get any recognition, and then they feel like they shouldn't continue because of that. So it has great and also not so great aspects. Maybe I can use this answer to highlight that regardless of how many likes you get or followers you have, you can still keep creating and doing your thing, creating just to create is a good way to live and work.
What's your favourite medium to work with - ink, pencil, pen?
I love how Indian ink changes and flows with water and I think it's really magical to use. But then also sometimes I crave the simplicity of a regular HB pencil and a black marker just to get out what I'm experiencing as easily as possible.
What can we expect from you in the future, have you got anything exciting in the pipeline?
I just launched a huge collection, I think it's about 49 new items, for Christmas. It's the best feeling to create products that I genuinely love and enjoy using and wearing myself! Apart from that, I'm just going to keep drawing, keep travelling, and I really hope to do some massive messy paintings sometime soon.
What's been your favourite doodle to date?
It changes daily, haha. Right now it's a pencil drawing of my reaper with the words 'sleeping forever'. I love the dark drawings the best.
What advice would you give to those wanting to get into illustration?
Draw draw draw as much as you can, keep creating, seek opportunities to learn with people who do what you'd love to do, push yourself with new materials and have fun with it, & don't feel too bad when you have a creative block, it happens!
Finally, if you could collaborate with any artist, who would it be and why?
Kanye, but by collaborate I mean talk with about art and music and life for a really long time.