Tania Nelson

Art medium(s): Photography, Painting, Mixed-media Collage

How do you describe your art? Grungy, opinionated, humorous, historical.

Were you always interested in following a creative path? Interested? Yes. Doing it? No. As a kid I learned to craft things from my mom, and art class was easily my favorite. I took art classes in high school, and photography in college. Then I had a 20-year career in banking. I maintained a side business of handmade goods, but it wasn’t until I left that career in 2019 that I could commit all of my energy to art and photography.

What does your “day-in-the-life” as an artist look like? Every day starts with coffee and reading, but after that it varies. My studio practice includes art journaling, photo walking, seeing work from other artists at museums and galleries, and generally staying in touch with, and supporting, my local artist friends. I’ve recently taken on the coordination of a few small exhibits for other artists and there is a fair amount of planning time required with those. And, of course I work on paintings and mixed-media pieces for exhibits, and I do all of the editing for my coffee table photo zine, Genuine Curiosity.

Where do you get your creative inspiration? Anywhere there are humans interacting or wherever there is evidence of human activity. I gather a lot of ideas and input for my projects by wandering around places with my camera. I live in Green Bay and do a fair amount of exploring there, but I really love driving to other towns and cities to explore. The Lakeshore and Fox Valley regions are particular favorites. Spending time with other artists also drives my creativity. I think it’s so important for artists to surround themselves with other people who live by the power of their imaginations.

Why do you love what you do? The work I do allows me to use the accumulation of my experiences to share ideas and stories through art and photography. It’s also very satisfying to create something and have other people connect to it in both predictable and unexpected ways.

Have you faced any challenges as an artist? My biggest challenge is defending what I do as work. Many people see art as a hobby, or a side gig. I could write for days about where that comes from, but the bottom line is that if you remove art and artists from your community, you remove its soul. Not all work is efficient or profit-driven, but it has a purpose none-the-less.

One thing that might surprise people about being an artist, in your opinion: Practicing art involves a lot of study work. Artists love a good rabbit hole and will spend weeks, months and years winding through a subject that interests them. Finished pieces of art happen along the way.

Early bird or night owl? A little of both. I get up early every day and primarily work into mid-afternoon. But I also stay up late watching documentaries and British mystery shows.

Favorite movie or book? I have far too many favorite books to name here! I just finished The Story of Art Without Men, by Katy Hessel. I am currently reading Paper Valley: The Fight for the Fox River Cleanup by David Allen and Susan Campbell.

Is the glass half full or half empty? The glass empties, and it fills, and sometimes gets knocked off the counter by my cats. All of it is exciting!

What makes you happiest: Exploring, learning, studying. Adding new concepts and ideas to my knowledge bank. Sharing and discussing these things.

Find Tania on Instagram, Threads and Facebook @tanianelsonart and on

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