Illustrator Tegan Price on the importance of good mental health with the help of creativity as she launches workshops in London

Artist has taken successful concept of workshops she ran for major brands such as Nike, ASOS and Timberland to help other freelancers or individuals get together and create.

Freelancing can be a lonely gig, however much you love it. Long days, head down, hard at work – they don’t necessarily have you craving office life, maybe just a chat with a few like-minded individuals who aren’t your dog, cat or other half.

But multidisciplinary artist Tegan Price has created her own solution for those days when you really need to bounce your ideas off a real live person: a series of creative workshops where anyone can get together and work on a themed project.

The idea came from similar events she has hosted for major brands in recent years – creating custom plant pots for Valentine’s Day with a team from Nike or embroidery with New Balance.

Now Tegan, who graduated from Arts University Bournemouth in 2017, is on her own (or more likely not) recreating the plant pot workshop this Thursday (15 February) in London.

We caught up with the bundle of positive energy that is Tegan to find out what has driven her to create such memorable designs – her swimsuits for Speedo are particularly beautiful – and why she decided to roll out her workshop series.

Tegan explains: “Early in 2022, I had an email from Nike inviting me to come and host a creative workshop to celebrate Nike’s 50th anniversary at NikeTown London. I hadn’t hosted one before, but I’d recently painted a ‘heel series’ of Nike sneakers, so the idea was that people could come and re-create these in their own style.

“We debated using some kind of stencil but ultimately decided to let people do their own thing – as it would be way more fun to watch everyone paint the sneakers and shape of the iconic Swoosh themselves!

“It was even better than we thought. The set-up was unreal, and everyone’s creations were at a really high level, too, with so much variety. It was something I realised that I absolutely loved doing.

“Over the two years since, I would share photos of workshops I’d done online, and other brands would pick up on them. I’ve now hosted many more for Nike, as well as New Balance, ASOS, and Timberland. From canvas painting, custom football jerseys and tote bags to plant pots and embroidered socks.”

But it isn’t just about creativity for Tegan; she has recognised a need that many of us working from home understand but don’t always address – looking after your mental health.

Tegan adds: “I’m a super chatty person, and I work from home 99 per cent of the time, so I enjoy getting out and sharing my love for creating with the people who come to my workshops. It’s a massive mental health boost for everyone who attends. Everyone always says to me how relaxing it is to sit and paint, and I always think, on the flip side, there’s nothing more satisfying than watching everyone’s pieces come to life throughout the session and how all their minds work in such wonderfully different ways.

“I hope this will be an ongoing series, as I know these kinds of workshops are great for those who don’t create often and act as a massive mental health boost, especially during these winter months, while bringing like-minded people together. I really thrive from these events having so many creative heads under one roof to connect with.”

Tegan is a great example for young artists or designers doubting themselves or their education choices to keep creating, showing their work – physically and online – and making contacts.

She admits that she almost dropped her BA Hons in graphic design course at Bournemouth but is now glad she stuck with it.

“I’ve always wanted to do and be so many different things: to design magazines, album covers and clothing; to be a photographer, stylist, animator, illustrator, painter, and even a writer. When I was young, it all came from drawing things, people usually, with big eyelashes and colourful clothing, alongside lots of ‘bubble writing’, as dubbed by my six-year-old self. I’ve made my career from doing those things, although I prefer to call it ‘typography’ now,” adds Tegan.

“University was actually a confusing time for me. I was an illustrator surrounded by designers who thrived with conceptual minds. I almost changed courses at one point but was advised not to due to the technical principles I’d learn in graphic design. During this time, I decided to spend my time illustrating fashion campaigns on websites and magazines daily, religiously sharing my work on Instagram and tagging the brands.”

After leaving university, Tegan had her first stint as a freelancer, securing her first commission for Nike and live illustrating a fashion event for Gucci.

Brands like that do not just come knocking if you haven’t put the effort in to get your work seen, so Tegan’s online presence and her commitment to picking up freelance illustration jobs even while working as Head of Creative, within the sneaker industry for over three years, was the catalyst for striking out on her own again.

It was brave, but it also meant she no longer had to commute into London and back, which at one point, she did for five hours a day, five days a week.

The move paid off, though. Tegan’s portfolio is crammed full of colourful and chaotic work for the likes of eBay, Speedo, New Balance, Adidas, Office, and JD Sports, alongside a stint in VCCP London’s creative studio.

So what inspires her to keep her work fresh and wear so many hats?

Tegan answers: “I like to create everything I can, influenced by fashion, pop culture, sneakers, colour and typography. All things that are happy and vibrant. One day, I’ll be wanting to do some illustrations. Next, I’ll make them into posters, stickers, embroidery patterns for clothing, blankets, tote bags, vases, and so on.

“Personal work is massive to me for development and exploration; a good amount of artwork I make for myself is made simply because I want to create, to spontaneously make a fun visual/product. Deciding on colour palettes is also one of my favourite parts of the process; I’m a huge fan of integrating popping and contrasting hues in my work. When it comes to client work, every freelancer knows that buzz of excitement when that next enquiry comes through. I thrive off working to a hard deadline, so once the project is a go, I love the hyperfocus stage, late-night working and the satisfaction of having it all come together.”

This brings us back to the often lonely world of the freelancer, burning the midnight oil and working longer hours than you might in a studio. It’s a wonderful opportunity, but before you decide if it’s the career for you, there are a few things to consider.

Tegan admits she’s lucky that her graphic designer partner also often works from home – and that she gets to spend all day with her Border Terrier puppy. But it’s the freedom that swings it for her.

“I can feel lonely sometimes, but then I remember both sides have pros and cons. It’s great to work with some of your besties, but that comes with many other elements, too.

“As outgoing as I am, I enjoy being in my own bubble in my studio, choosing what I want to work towards and create when I wake up each day. I treasure the fact that I can dictate how my week looks. I’m very close with my family, so if I want to go back home and spend time with them, go on a spontaneous trip or do something for myself, then I can.”

The last few years post-pandemic have been a whirlwind for Tegan. She spent last summer designing a swimwear collection for Speedo and created art to be displayed on a vast scale at some of the UK’s biggest sneaker events. Her work will even feature on a custom e-bike released later this year.

That’s not to mention the in-house workshops which led to her current project.

“It has been great to host for brands, a chance to connect with their consumers and teams – but after sharing them on socials, I found people asking how they could sign up or how gutted they were that they missed out. Often, these events I did were for a specific audience or activation and weren’t always open to the general public,” she adds.

“So, after two years of experience hosting for brands, I wanted 2024 to be the year I made it possible for the people who have wanted to come to one of my workshops to be able to do so without these barriers.”

Guests at her first event will have an hour and a half to come, relax and unwind while getting creative, either on their own, with a date or with their mates and a lovely new personalised pot and plant to take home.

Tegan says: “I’ve also got the second one planned for March. I’ll have a pop-up shop at each workshop so people can check out my work. My plants from last year’s workshop are still thriving in their custom pots, so they’ll be there too as inspiration, and hopefully, in a year, my guests will have the same.”

Clearly always busy, Tegan is also the kind of creative who constantly challenges herself and dreams of the brands she would love to create for, expanding her already impressive portfolio.

What are her plans other than expanding on the workshop project?

“To be more carefree with the work I’m putting out there in my personal projects while also, hopefully, bringing a bit of joy to people through the artwork I create. January has been great for experimentation as it’s usually quiet on client work, so it’s been a great time to reset, plan and get excited for the year. I’ve got many plans for fun products (including embroidered apparel) in the pipeline,” she says.

“I’d love to continue to host these workshops more regularly, taking them into creative studios for team-building days and to different cities around the UK, making creativity more accessible for those unable to come to London. I’m hosting one at Arts University Bournemouth in February and one for a charity in June, so I’m looking forward to seeing what comes of them and who they could help.

As for brand work, I want to work with like-minded brands who want to bring positivity and playfulness to their campaigns. I’ve had Apple and Adobe in my sights for a while – two brands that represent those things and that I use and love every day. I’d like to think that both of their brand identities would work well with my style. For now, I’ll keep manifesting.”

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