Emma Tindale


'I’m learning to back myself': Emma Tindale's painting her own future one portrait at a time

"When I was deciding what career path to choose, I was scared of the risks that come with creative work."

Emma Tindale's foray into the art world is anything but linear. Previously working in PR and advertising with limited connections in the industry, the now-self-taught painter from Sydney has only been a full-time artist for the last year-and-a-half.

"I’m sure a lot of women in all industries say this, but I’ve encountered a bit of imposter syndrome, especially as I’ve taken a non-traditional approach to getting started," she tells Missing Perspectives.

As she showcases her work at The Other Art Fair in Sydney this weekend, we chat to Tindale about the inspiration behind her work, and making the career move from marketing to art.

Congratulations on featuring at The Other Art Fair. Tell us a bit about your pieces featuring at the multi-day event. 

Thank you so much! I paint contemporary portraits, and tend to favour a moody/ romantic colour palette. In this collection of works, I’ve painted a series of portraits that are framed like playing cards. I’ve felt that portraiture can be seen as elitist or too traditional, and I want my work to be modern and accessible to everyone, so I used the iconography of cards to frame the portraits as they are universally known and for everyone to enjoy. 

How long does the artwork take to create?

It depends on the scale, but an artwork can take me anywhere from 1-2 days, to weeks or months. I’m very particular about all of the little details, so I like to finish a work and then leave it for a while, because I always notice things that I want to come back and change. 

Photo: Supplied

What is your usual creative process and where do you seek inspiration? 

My creative process starts from sourcing a million images and putting a hundred mood boards together. I draw inspiration from diverse sources such as high fashion photography, queer icons, old editorial photoshoots from the 80s and 90s, contemporary photographers and Pinterest. I’m really inspired by the contorted poses and fluid movement of high fashion photography, and I often turn to interior design for colour combinations. I usually have about five paintings on the go at once which helps me to not fixate too much on one piece.

You are a self-taught painter. How long have you been doing this, and what made you decide to get into it? 

I’ve always painted and drawn, it’s always been my favourite thing to do and what’s felt most natural to me. When I was deciding what career path to choose, I was scared of the risks that come with creative work, so I studied a Bachelor of PR and Advertising for better job security. In my last full-time role in 2022, I was working as a marketing manager for an Art Consultancy Firm and spent all day marketing the careers of other artists, and admired that they had the strength to do it. I just wanted to be on their side of the industry instead of writing about them, and so I decided to quit my job and go all in, knowing how much I’d regret it if I never tried. It’s now been a year-and-a-half of doing this and it's the best decision I’ve ever made. 

As an emerging female artist, what are the challenges you have encountered in this field, and how have you navigated them? 

I’m sure a lot of women in all industries say this, but I’ve encountered a bit of imposter syndrome, especially as I’ve taken a non-traditional approach to getting started. When people ask me where I studied or who my mentors are, I feel unqualified or like too much of an amateur and feel the need to over-explain how much work I put into this. I’m always looking at the work of other artists and comparing their skills, vision and creativity to mine, but I’m learning to back myself and be happy with what I’m doing regardless of how it holds up against other people in this industry. 

Has your participation in The Other Art Fair impacted your career, and if so, how? 

My participation in The Other Art Fair in 2023 was the biggest catalyst in starting my career. It was my first year selling art, and I felt quite stuck with how to get my name out there or get a foot in the door as I didn’t have any connections in the industry. The Other Art Fair allowed thousands of people to view my work, introduced me to incredible artists, gallery owners and curators and helped me start to build an audience. All opportunities and commissions that I’ve since done are from showing at The Other Art Fair. 

Photo: Supplied

What would you say are your career highlights? 

Honestly, The Other Art Fair last year. I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited to work. I have a couple of gallery exhibitions booked for the rest of the year, which I’m really looking forward to as well, and a huge highlight has been doing private commissions for families and getting to know the people that appreciate my art. It's so personal meeting people who invest in my work and hearing what connects them to it. 

What is your advice for other young women who would like to pursue an art career?

I think if you’re a creative person, you’ll always be drawn to making art and finding ways to fulfill this part of yourself, so I’d say to back yourself and just do it. I’d also recommend going to galleries whenever you can, following anyone that makes you feel inspired or is in a position that you want to be in, reading books about art history and experimenting with styles until you find what feels like you. Other than that, speak to new people and talk about what you’re doing, as that way, you can make really valuable connections and find inspiration in the strangest places.

Emma Tindale is one of many artists appearing at The Other Art Fair, Sydney that's taking place from May 16-19 at White Bay Cruise Terminal. Click here for tickets and program information.