We had the good fortune of connecting with Tania Dibbs and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tania, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
Giving up is really never in the realm of possibility for an artist with a successful career. It’s not a conscious choice, either, it is just not in the fabric of the makeup of those who make it in the arts. There might be course alterations and changes in expectations but giving up is just simply not one of the options. In other areas of life this can be a challenging trait but in my pursuit of an art career this attribute has helped me tremendously.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Getting to this point in my career was certainly not easy. There is no roadmap for becoming an artist. I have spent years learning ways to monetize my work that don’t leave me dependent on the skill of a salesperson in a gallery. I work with a lot of designers and consultants. I maintain relationships with private clients. My facebook art page brings me a lot of business, and I license images to Restoration Hardware to sell as reproductions. I have learned to be flexible and open minded in my business model while resisting commercializing my work. Starting out in the arts was hard, but over the years as my business skills grew it became so much easier. Art was never really encouraged as a possible career path for me, but after graduating with a degree in biology and moving out West, I still harbored life in art as a sort of daydream and possibility. I worked a lot of jobs: cooking, teaching skiing, and as a carpenter, but realized that without committing myself fully my dream life would never happen. I moved into a little tool shed in Aspen that had no plumbing in order to save on rent so I would not spend all my working hours supporting my housing. I desperately wanted to make it as an artist. The shed was my home for about 6 years. I put in weeks of labor to make it habitable, adding windows, a closet, insulation, and heat. I had no plumbing so worked a couple of nights a week as a maid at The Aspen Club so I could use the facilities there, otherwise I put on a coat and walked to the main house across the yard to use the bathroom. It took me a while to get my nerve up to state my goals publicly. Even to me it sounded fantastical to say “I am an artist.” I shared my goal with a ski school client who had become a friend, telling him that come summer I was not going to get another construction job but was going to work on a portfolio of art. He wrote me a check for six thousand dollars and said he would pick a few pieces from the resulting collection at the end of the summer. Eventually I showed these pieces in a solo show in Aspen at a well-known gallery. By trial and error and doggedness, I slowly developed my work and learned the business.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Like most Coloradoans I love the outdoors, and would spend as much time sharing the natural beauty of this area as possible: hiking, biking, and taking scenic drives. You can put good food in your mouth in any city in the country, but where else can you be enjoying vistas at altitude under the crisp blue Colorado sky?
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have a few close friends who have doggedly supported me over the years, waving the flag of my fan club even when I was barely making it, believing in me more than I believed in myself. Having them to lean on when times were tough helped me get through a lot of challenges. The arts are completely subjective, so having someone you trust look at a troublesome work in progress and say something positive, or look at a troublesome point in your career and remind you of where you started has made all the difference.
Tania Dibbs Lemuel Bolaños