Tamara Duncan

creative director/designer
Location: Brooklyn, New York

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How did you become a designer/artist?

I’d say I apprenticed my way into design. I graduated with a degree in American Studies, but started auditing design classes as an alum when a friend in the design department saw one of my doodled-up notebooks and suggested I take some classes.

I really, REALLY, lucked out when I took a class with an adjunct professor (and soon-to-be mentor) who hired me as an intern at his studio. I worked as an HTML developer there at first, but made sure to nag for more design opportunities — not only did they give me those opportunities, but nurtured me along the way. Within four years at the firm, I was a senior designer.

Eventually I transferred up to the New York office as an Art Director, and two years later I started my own company, OrangeYouGlad, with Mary DeMichele (another former Iconixx employee).

Where are you from originally?

Canton, CT. I currently live in Brooklyn, NY.

What are you doing now?

I co-own a small design studio in Brooklyn called OrangeYouGlad. I’d say I was the creative director, but as of yet, we have no one to direct, so I’m still doing all of the designing. I’m also starting work on a series of pieces to be featured at the Wicked Pulp Gallery in Portland, ME this winter.

What are your plans for the future?

Did my mom ask you to ask me that?

What American artist inspires you most?

I was asked a similar question when I was in 5th grade and my response at that time was Richard Pryor. I don’t think I’ve changed much over the years. It’s still humor, cleverness, and playfulness in art that excites me the most.

I recently went to two great exhibits: Greater New York at PS1 and Basquiat at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Both of these shows made me want to rush home and start work on something right away.

What unlocks your creativity?

I love traveling with my husband. We’ve been all over the place. Seeing a new place always refreshes me. I especially love seeing street art from other countries.

I also really love trash. I love finding random, busted-up equipment on the street, rusty old tin ceiling tiles, solitary cabinet doors, photographs, and other odds and ends. There is something so exciting about finding an element outside of its original environment, imagining the story of that element’s existence (why it’s on the street, who put it there, etc.), and then being able to look at it as something new — both visually and functionally — that still carries the mark of its age and history. You just can’t fake wear and tear and intrigue on something new.