Spotlight: Tara Lawson, Ishi Studio

We recently caught up with Tara Lawson, a newcomer from afar who has found a home within Spokane’s creative scene. She’s a trained designer and silversmith who creates bright, colorful clay statement jewelry through her business Ishi Studio. Her Australian-accented words are as effusive and delightful as they are expletive-riddled. Here’s a snippet of our conversation:

You’ve been here about a year. How have you found a home within Spokane’s arts community?

It’s like one of those scratch-and-sniff stickers from when you were a kid. The creative scene in Spokane isn’t so obviously in your face when you first land here. But then you scratch the surface a little, and you get to the really good stuff. I’ve made great friends who have drawn me into this city and inspired me to participate and keep making things.

What brought you to Spokane?

Spokane was sort of a compromise. After coming to the U.S., I lived in an isolated cabin with my now husband, Allen Stone, near his tiny hometown of Chewelah, Washington. This wasn’t conducive for someone like me, especially being alone there 80% of the year. So we tried Seattle for a while, packed in with roommates and paying way too much for rent and living. So a mid-sized nearby city felt like a great compromise for us.

So, as a visual artist and a musician, you two are finding your niche here?

Yes. We live here now, and we want to be a part of this creative scene. Like-minded people inspire me, and if you look here, you find them. It has been wonderful to jump into it, and to put my work out there. I typically like to stay behind the scenes when it comes to my jewelry work, but this summer, I took the chance of making a ton of new pieces and selling them to the public at Bazaar. People were really positive. And it really is the community of other artists and entrepreneurs that inspired me to take that step.

Side hustle has become a part of our cultural lexicon. You mentioned you have a day job; how does living in Spokane support keeping your creative fires burning as well?

Well, there’s certainly the cost advantage, which plays itself out in a couple ways. You have a bit more time to devote to creative work if you’re not as worried about simply paying your bills. And you are more likely to have space — I mentioned being packed together in my Seattle house of a bunch of roommates. But again, money isn’t the only thing; you do need enough relationships and friends who are encouraging you to make art, and enough of a scene who will come out to enjoy and ultimately buy art. We’re excited to keep building those sorts of connections here as we meet more and more people who have been here a lot longer, building up the community.

The time is right.

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