Spring is a wonderful time in Savannah City Market. Everybody emerges from the holiday season full of cheer, and ready to explore outdoors! This Spring, visitors to Savannah City Market will have a new artist to discover as we welcome Tafy LaPlanche to the Art Center. Before she moves in, we’re giving you a sneak peek at her work and her story.
How did you discover your passion for art? When I was 13, I was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes. Being the oldest in the pediatric unit, I never had access to the Nintendo 64. To pass the time the nurses gave me pen and paper. I think it was meant to be a journal but I ended up drawing everyone around me since I always had nurses in and out. My mother ended up putting me in an art class due to it but the teacher and students only spoke Mandarin. I learned that despite a language barrier, art in itself was a universal language.
What made you decide to pursue art as a career? I was out of touch with it for so long. It wasn’t until I picked up my paint brush after many years that I realized it was who I was. Pursuing it as a career was my affirmation that I wasn’t going to deny that very true part of myself anymore. I’m an artist – and I want everyone to know that :D.
Why did you choose to open in Savannah City Market? The other artists that were already in that space. Being around others who not only have the best energy anyone can ask to be around but also invest and love what they do is priceless to me. It motivates and continuously inspires you. After talking to a few I just really envisioned myself in Savannah City Market. Plus, I grew up in an exposed brick wall house so the nostalgia really hit when I saw the studio space I wanted.
How do you describe your art? Vibrant and unique portraits for vibrant and unique people. I say that because oftentimes people don’t find themselves to be either. It always brings me joy when a client tells me how my portrait of them has given their self confidence back. I hope that when people buy my work whether it’s a personalized portrait of them or not – that the feeling from my work allows the viewer to see themselves in a brighter light.
Describe the experience people can expect when they visit your studio or purchase your work? Not only do I use my studio space to show/sell my work, but I’ve created a comfortable atmosphere for those who are being drawn or painted by me to sit down, take a load off, and allow me to get to know them a bit more. When you step into my space you can look around and see my work, watch me paint, sit down, scroll through sketchbooks, get a commission done, and say hello to Veronica. She’s my carnivorous plant that hides out in the corner. Every work purchased comes with a story. I provide a space to tell it.
What is your artistic background and inspiration for your work? Strap in readers… this one’s an epic tale. I was painting landscapes for a while. Being Haitian, my father expected me to go into doing market paintings. But when you’re young, anything your parents tell you to do – you’re going to avoid doing it. I was given the opportunity to paint landscapes in Tuscany. I thought it would be a good change of scenery and perhaps relight my passion for painting. So there I am, in a beautiful sunflower field. Canvas out; paintbrush in hand. Suddenly, I hear a loud buzzing noise. So loud I became aggravated and swapped my hand around til the noise went away. All of a sudden I couldn’t see out of my right eye. My eye lid had swelled up! I WAS STUNG BY A BEE AND I WAS ALLERGIC! Out of nowhere, an elderly woman emerged from the hill. She invited me to her home to take care of the bee sting. As a naive teenager, I followed her thinking she must have some home remedy. She is an old Italian woman after all. Once in her home, she gives me half an onion to put on my eye. As I cried at her table, I watched her go about her day. Cooking, cleaning, interacting with her chickens. And I realized – the stories of people is what I was passionate about. It’s what inspired my work. From that moment on, I left landscape painting behind me and created portraits based on the stories of people I met through my travels.
What is your favorite memory and/or work that you have done as an artist? ‘Ou Pi Bon Ne’ (You Better Knot) is my favorite painting. It’s a profile of a woman rocking Bantu knots and has papayas in the background. When I painted her, I had just met my aunt for the first time. And from talking to her I got this encouragement that it was okay to be a badass woman. That you don’t have to fit a mold to be accepted. Acceptance starts from within and being loud and being proud of who you are is a gift. I used that energy in that painting and for anyone who enters my studio you can tell right away she’s my favorite. Not only have I done a drawing of her, I painted her, I made a digital print of her, and I made her my first limited edition pin. You Better Knot is a play on words due to the hairstyle but also a message to not mess with a kick-ass lady! Anyone who purchases a version of her will carry that confidence with them.
How can people connect with you? My website launches on April 13th so you can follow me on Instagram or Twitter to be updated on that. My Instagram is @lepouf_art and my Twitter is @qtpie2bnvd. If you are curious about my space or me as an artist, I do studio tours both virtually and physically. I dedicate 30 minutes to show you around and get an insight on current collections and upcoming work. Any and all questions are welcomed! You can message me on any of my social media accounts to check availability.