Tia O’Donnell (born 14th January 1997) is a British artist, based in London. O’Donnell is recognised for striving to shine a light on mental health issues and for her autobiographical artwork. Tia produces work in a wide variety of media including painting, sculpture, film, photography and illustrations. She has exhibited her work at various galleries including The Saatchi, Groucho Club, 10 Greek Street, The Letherby Gallery, The Nayland Rock Margate, Notting Hill Carnival, Hoxton Basement and The Joseph Froissart Gallery Paris.
When reaching out about this collaboration you suggested creating a design in regards to mental health, can you explain why?
I create work about things that I relate to personally. My work is the only place I feel safe to express myself. I want everyone to feel comfortable with expression. The reason I am an artist is strongly connected to my own mental wellbeing and so I feel driven to raise awareness about mental health issues in my work. I feel that we are in a time when mental health is is still a taboo subject that people shy away from and see as weakness. We all have a voice and we all have stories: your story could help someone with their story. It’s important to share.
You mentioned you’re holding an exhibition soon, would you be able to tell us some more about that?
Yes! Opening on the 11th January 2020 I’ll be holding my first solo show. The exhibition is called ‘MIND FULL’. The exhibition explores my journey through my life and talks openly about struggles with mental health and anxiety. Projects that I’ve been working on with some incredibly talented people from all over the world have now come together in one big space. Can’t express how excited I am to share these stories with everyone.
Is there anything exciting that you’re working on at the moment or in the near future that you can share with us?
Absolutely! I’m currently planning a project titled ‘Masked’. The project is depicting my alter ego ‘Christina’, who is the complete opposite of myself. Christina is bold, careless and unafraid. Christina is taking herself on mini vacations around the UK (which Tia would feel incredibly anxious about) and will be documenting herself in these areas alone. Christina is a coping mechanism to try and smooth out the kinks in Tia’s life. The project will be a mixture of video work, photography and collage.
Can you talk us through your process and where you find your inspiration?
Being born an artist is a burden. You’re never satisfied and you always feel like you’re chasing satisfaction. My work is autobiographical. I struggle to create things that I personally have not experienced. Usually my work stems from some form of trauma, memory or experience. I keep a journal where all my stories are recorded, and I also have lots of memory boxes. I work in various different types of media so what the project is based on will determine the format. Each process is different so it’s difficult to narrow it down to one method, there’s never really a starter, main course and dessert. Sometimes its just all dessert and no starter, other times it’s just the main course without the starter or the dessert, if that makes sense!
Explain the idea behind the designs submitted to this collaboration
The ’Skull tank’ is a representation of being stuck in an anxiety loop of overthinking. I wanted to depict how a thought just seems to swim round the mind again and again, like a fish in a bowl. ‘I Love Me Not’ was created by unravelling the concept of picking daisies, there is a 50/50 chance you’ll land on ’she/he loves me not’ or ‘he/she loves me’. The idea behind leaving your mood up to picking petals from a flower seems funny, when the outcome is either you’ll love yourself one day or hate yourself the next. ‘Potty Pooper’ is based on a time where I am sure most people will be able to relate too. Suffering from a panic attack when being at a party or event and having to leave immediately, feeling really guilty about ruining not only your night but your friends night too. Feeling like a right party pooper!
Created to shine a light on mental health – each of Tia’s designs is in support of YoungMinds. 25% of the profits are donated from every sale.