The Queen of Hearts

Make way for the new princess of the sweetly spooky!  

Article by Dee Myra, Amrita Sareen & Marion Ang Suet Hoon, Photos by Yan Qian

Tara McPherson, based out of New York City and known as the crown princess of poster art, recently unveiled her limited edition camera and her collaborations with Peek!.

Art and photography fans gathered at Peek! Galleria this past weekend to celebrate the launch (and the new home) of the Darkroom Army. Setting an indelible impression, the Darkroom Army is an unforgettable initiative to bring back the dying art form of analogue photography equipment by collaborating with the best local and international artists.

The princess herself inaugurated the Darkroom Army Lecture Series and unveiled the Darkroom Army x Tara McPherson’s limited edition “Love Blows” analogue camera. Her design was specially skinned onto the body of the FEB-5B rangefinder, giving the black and boring camera body a fresh and modern new look. The Cotton Candy Machine, her art boutique concept hailing from NYC, is also calling Peek!’s extended second floor space home as a pop-up store.

Tara’s store features many of her artworks on prints, lithographs, t-shirts, cushions, stickers and art toys. One of the most exclusive items in store is the the Artist Edition of her new artbook, Bunny in the Moon – limited to 50 copies worldwide. Pretty sweet!

Her art toys include the “Magic Love Hello Kitty”, a 6-inch toy figurine produced in collaboration with Hello Kitty and Kid Robot. However, it was sold-out within minutes of the launch of the pop-up store!

Lecturing in a hospital white interior, Tara exudes intimidating confidence with black and blonde hair and two full sleeves of tattoos. Her self-deprecating humour, while describing her journey as an artist, puts the audience at ease: “I got fired from the coffeeshop I was working at for giving away food to my friends.”

So why, one may ask, does Tara have such a cult following? For one, Tara has lent her artistic abilities to a variety of media. From rock band posters to toys, Tara has done it all while retaining her recognisable style.

Even the casual observer could recognise a recurring pattern in her work. Aside from her fondness of pastel colours on dark characters, a heart-shaped hole in the chest appears on many of her figures. As narrated by Tara, this has been a part of her personal work since college and then decided to put it in one of her commercial works. Needless to say, her client loved it and it evolved into her icon.

“If you put your own personal touch into commercial work, it really shows,” she remarked.

Tara also gamely offered her own personal experience getting work as an independent artist fresh out of school.

“Put yourself into situations where you actually get to meet people you’d like to work with,” she advised, nodding sagely with all the wisdom of an African medicine woman. “When you’re in the right place at the right time, magic happens.”

As the lecture drew to an end, Tara displayed photos of tattoos of her artwork people have done, only proving how big a hit her art has become. Walking the fine line between simple and elaborate, Tara has created dark characters with that glimmer of hope everybody can relate to.

Oh, and Tara’s advice to aspiring artists? “Work your ass off.”